Bach of the North

  I have a friend who likes to listen to Bach. I don’t have much friendship with him, and I have more divine friendship. He doesn’t play the piano and doesn’t have many CDs. He often listens to Bach’s piano music when driving over the mountain. He is Robert, the worker in the repair facility of the apartment I rented.
  Robert, who is of Irish descent with the sturdy figure of a “big brother” and a thick braid behind his head, often travels by car and must listen to classical music on the radio. He said coarsely, “I listen to Bach every time I drive over a mountain!”
  God, how does that feel? I drive on the ordinary streets of the city and sometimes listen to music. To use the “road” to feel music is simply to “plant” music in one’s memory and life. Paving the road with music, that road is the road of love that exudes soft brilliance, and with the road, the world of happiness is suddenly wide and far-reaching, absorbing the warmth of the fireworks on the world. And driving in the mountains, accompanied by white clouds and snow…
  Robert had a degree in geology and was a white-collar worker in an office. Later, he was not free enough, so he resigned and became a worker with irregular working hours. He lives in remote and cold Alaska, hunting deer with the locals. “I read quietly at home when it’s coldest. I have a lot of books!” Of course I like this kind of weird person. Every time the fireplace at home breaks down, I happily wait for Robert to come, even to work. Talk to me. I never discussed the performance version with him, or even asked him if he likes my beloved Glenn Gould (Canadian pianist, famous for playing Bach’s music-Editor’s Note). I would love to hear him tell stories in a place farther north than Canada. In winter, surrounded by snow and ice, the lake there is silver-gray, there are puffins with orange-red beaks and white belly, and there are fishermen who are as aggressive as Robert. I know that in that cold and clear place, he not only hunts deer, but also listens to Bach’s “British Suite” and “The Art of Fugue.” Generally, people who listen to this kind of music always have “reasons”. Maybe Robert just wants to relax, or maybe he just thinks Bach’s music suits his taste best. I still refrained from asking, and quietly hid my love for Gould.
  Today I am moving from this house, which means that I will never see Robert again. While packing things up, I heard Bach’s “Partita” again, and I regretted it again. Why not talk to Robert about Gould? You will like him, Robert.
  Listen, when “The Art of Fugue” sounded under Gould’s finger, the sound of the silver-rimmed pipe organ meanders like a stream in the staff, and I seem to be following it in this deep mountain, in the cloud on the cliff. Walk down and walk with the tree. Bach turned the subject upside down and played the German game lonely like a dice. Gould even buried himself in singing softly. I stepped back to a far, far away place, covered my mouth in amazement and couldn’t make a sound. His favorite is the “Gothenburg Variations” he played in 1981. Starting from the sparse star-like theme, from the sound of pearls and jade to the thunderbolt, the cold and gleaming voice is deeply buried in the tenderness and quietly melted away. All our fears and tensions about this world. Many times, I looked at the music score, watched the melody shuttle between his left and right hands, and quickly built an exquisite and transparent building, which melted into the wind in an instant, and then a new building appeared. The changing rhythm, the prosperous carvings and the supernatural counterpoint make the listener helpless. Bach’s music is a “desperate” world for the performers and listeners. Those who decide to imprison themselves must have a mysterious and endless paradise in their hearts. Otherwise, how can they find the song of life hidden in the dull and boring surface in this forest-like depth? I have read many texts written by Gould and his interviews, but the moments when he left the music most shocked me.
  ”I always think of those long summer nights. The snow melted, and wild geese and ducks flew north in groups. When the sun rose, there was the last glimmer of light in the sky. I like to sit by the lake and watch The geese and ducks fly around the lake quietly. I feel as if I are part of the peaceful surroundings. I hope this time will never end…” This was when Gould interviewed residents of northern Canada in the 1960s. Of recordings. These recordings have nothing to do with music, and the interviewee may not know Bach. But Gould likes those northerners who live in the cold and loneliness, perhaps because the lonely north is like his beloved, “womb-like quiet” recording studio.
  ”I’ll tell you an interesting story. I know the two brothers, they live less than 100 meters apart. It seems that they never talk to each other. In fact, they are not hostile to each other, they just do everything by themselves and never ask The other side helped. They all have their own boats. In fact, they need help from others, but they still do it themselves. Guess what happened? They both died on the same day, and I buried them by myself. This one is here, that one is here Over there, as they did before they were alive.” These arrogant and stubborn northerners!
  A man’s voice: “I’ve lived here for 11 years and have seen all kinds of people who come here for different reasons—perhaps for settlement or short-term travel. I have not seen anyone who is not affected by this. People affected by the place.” After listening to this recording, I think Robert is among them. Many of Bach’s immortal works were not appreciated until after his death, but the coldness of the world has never frozen his warm faith. As for Gould, he was content to be intimate with the microphone alone in the recording studio, and would never live on stage waiting for someone to applaud. Robert, who is studying quietly in the cold weather, must be very concerned about that kind of loneliness.
  I won’t see Robert again, and I didn’t even say goodbye. I only knew that he was going to drive back to Alaska alone with Bach’s music soon. He has a long journey to cross Canada. He said that Bach’s music can keep him mentally healthy and calm, as long as it is Bach, any tune is fine. I still can’t bear to ask him if he likes Gould. He is not a connoisseur, he only listens to Bach for “happiness”, maybe he has never heard of Gould at all. But he was already in Gould’s sight-the kind of person who is obsessed with his own way of life, experiencing the tranquility and vastness in the sea and sky ice valley with loneliness and tenacity, the kind of person who looks at the world instead of occupying the world . Unconsciously, he had been waiting for Gould in silence.

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