September 25, 2012 Leave a comment
By Rob Packer
The true sign of a great book, whether fiction, poetry or non-fiction, is that it changes your perspective, that it influences you for weeks after you put it down, that it opens your eyes to the new, or makes you remember what you didn’t realize you’d forgotten. Open City by Teju Cole (my thoughts on it here) is turning into one of those books and it’s not giving too much away to say that a Mahler symphony appears at a key moment towards the end of the book (beautifully described, by the way). I didn’t realize, though, that Open City had left a subtle itch on the Mahler part of my brain. Last Sunday, I had to scratch it and decided to listen to Mahler’s symphonies one by one.
I queued all ten of them up on Spotify and when I do this a “listening project” like this, I usually put another track between the albums or symphonies like the lemon sorbet you sometimes find between your starter and main course at posh dinners. And with something like Mahler’s symphonies with their different emotional calibrations, a track by TV on the Radio, Hot Chip or Rihanna works perfectly to know it’s time to move onto the next symphony or to turn it off and go to bed. It doesn’t always.