Make Haste Slowly

Yesterday, while I was at a mass in Visitation Church here in Kansas City, I noticed that the organ prelude that had been performed at the 9 a.m. Mass was the Largo from Bach’s Double Violin Concerto.  It got me thinking.  First of all, I love this movement, especially in the version performed by Salvatore Accardo and Anna-Sophie Mutter and the English Chamber Orchestra.  The second movement of the Concerto has the time given as Largo ma non tanto — “Slowly, but not too much.”  Well, Accardo and Mutter stretch that “but not too much” as far as they can.  It is the most langorously slow movement I think I’ve ever heard, but it works — not only slow, the performance by Mutter and Accardo is perhaps also the most sensual reading I’ve ever heard of this piece.  I remember the first time I heard it and I was amazed.  I love Bach’s music, but most of the time I like it for its grandeur.  Bach’s rendition of Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott always makes me want to run out and become a Lutheran (a serious old-time Lutheran) — the feeling doesn’t last, but it’s pretty powerful stuff.  And so, when I heard this piece the first time, I thought how much the old guy surprised me — this was not some majestic work for the glory of God, but more like an intimate conversation between lovers — very beautiful and sensual and so tantalizingly slow.  I’m sure that the organist was not able to capture that — the organ for all its power does not have the subtlety of a well played violin, and a single player on an organ cannot, Bergin and McCarthy-like, speak the two parts so convincingly. 

It did make me think, though, how much the senses matter to me in my appreciation of a service.  And so often a service can come across as little more than a poorly done radio address — you’re getting the audio, but it’s not particularly scintillating, and the other senses are left in the lurch.  And so often we’re led to attend and think about the words we hear, but there is so much more to be gained by something we feel as well as understand.  I think I probably want more of the reason beyond reason that Pascal speaks of, at least in my religion.

speaking my truth in love,


0 Responses to “Make Haste Slowly”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: