Ah, Berlioz.

The Symphonie Fantastique is one of those works that, even after hearing it dozens of times over the past 40 years, still gives me head to toe goosebumps. It was written only 6 years after Beethoven’s 9th, but it sounds so different, more like it was written 50 years later. I heard it performed by the Houston Symphony last season, and it was spectacular. But on the drive today from Fries, VA to Columbia, SC I listened to pretty much the whole thing on Sirius XM.

This version, especially the first 2 or 3 movements, was markedly slower than any other performance I’ve ever heard. Oftentimes I listen to a song performed at a slower tempo than normal and it just falls apart like a one-egg puddin’. Some songs, especially those with lyrics, have a certain “right” tempo and performers that try to get too artistic just blow it completely. And so it can be with classical pieces that have been heard many times within a certain range of tempos. I started to get that feeling at first with this performance. However, the more I listened the more I realized that the slower tempo was really adding drama to the accented syncopation that is the hallmark and driving force of the piece. Plus, the slower tempo highlighted certain instruments that I had never really heard before. All told, I’m sure there were drivers on I-77 that thought me a lunatic as I conducted the piece while driving down the road, but fie upon ‘em! The goosebumps were there.

So tonight (Friday) I’m shacking up in another Cracker Barrel parking lot. This works out pretty well, at least so far. Since it requires keeping a low profile (no unhooking from the Big ‘Un, no slideouts, no electrical hookup) it makes for a quiet evening: reading, blogging, that sort of thing. And a big boy shot of Balvenie.

Leave it to Cracker Barrel to provide food for thought. This sign seen tonight:

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Do any retailers still give out stamps? I remember collecting them and pasting them in the little books as a kid, then redeeming them for pretty neat stuff. Have they gone the way of the buggy whip?

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