When I listen to Fur Elise by Beethoven, I hear a beautiful, seamless flow that is both resolute and reflective. It is a piece that is quite moving and graceful. When I play the piece on the piano, the fixity of the timing is very striking. The piece sounds so meandering and flowing, yet is quite precise.
I recently attended my son’s honor band performance at a local theater. One of the visiting band conductors commented that, ‘In baseball, you can hit the ball 50% of the time and that’s considered a good batting average. In football you get 4 tries. In band you get 1 try, and 90% isn’t good enough. On the other hand, there isn’t a 350 lb tackle coming at our soloists, so it all balances out.’ But the point is, to be good, a piece of music must be played with precision and accuracy. Even music that sounds unstructured, must be played with precision. Music is a precise art.
For my birthday this year, my parents sent me a bottle of Pedroncellis’ Petite Sirah. Petite Sirah, not to be confused with Syrah, is a grape that is not on Mark Oldman’s list of wines from light to heavy. But if I were to place it, I’d put is somewhere after New World Cabernet Sauvignon, but before Barolo. It’s a very heavy wine with lots of tannins.
The Pedroncelli Petite Sirah is a very grown up glass of wine. It is structured and balanced. There is nothing fruity about it. If it were a person, Pedroncelli Petite Sirah would be Nurse Ratched, strict, and humorless, yes, but also very focused, disciplined and intense. The color is a deep purple red. The nose is peppery, cedar and the flavor has hints of licorice. The finish is long with great tannins. “When I first tasted this wine, I was at a dinner party,” my friend Betsy recently told me. “My hostess poured me a glass. I took one sip, and that was it. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted to sit and experience the wine.’ Now, that’s a good glass of wine. And she makes a good point. This wine is so intense and precise, it commands your full attention, like a great piece of music.