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Healdsburg, April 15, 2016
You remember what it was like driving down toward Susa from the Moncenisio pass I always recall that when driving down from Mt. Shasta through Redding and onto the Central Valley, leaving the snow and mist behind, as if there were a choice in the matter, and coming out to a warmer day, further advanced in the season.
The mood was enhanced yesterday, when the radio finally found a noncommercial station amongst all the inter-station hiss it had coped with up in the mountains. What a lucky break the Chico campus wasnt damaged during the attacks! Mozart was on. Not only Mozart; the Coronation Concerto, played with spirit and wit by Alfred Brendel. The sunlight-and-shadow effect of the minor-key passages in the finale exactly matched the skies below Redding, reminding me to stop at whats left of the old outlet shops near Corning, to visit the Mozart Mall.
Id been closing in on my complete collection while up in Portland, where theres any number of used CD stores. At one of them I heard about the Mozart Mall. Who could believe it? A shop devoted to the greatest musical genius of all time, except perhaps for Cage...
The shop had begun in the town of Mt. Shasta ten years ago, before the Intensification, during the Mozart Semiquincentennial, or maybe the following year, Im not sure. Someone ran it out of her living room for a few months, just as a hobby and to entertain a group of friends. It was one of them, I think, who had the idea of setting it up in the mall, when so many outlets and franchises went bust after the crash of 2010, leaving the malls with empty shops for years.
Anyway it seems to be thriving now, partly because of the economic recovery following the Reorganization, partly because of the discovery a couple of years ago of the missing pages of the Requiem, just in time for the funeral obsequies of President Bush III. Its a curious place, with its old-fashioned espresso machines and its sofas. It even has a set of loudspeakers, which make it necessary to share your listening with other people, even total strangers. It isnt obligatory, though, thank the muses, and we hooked ourselves up to headcaps.
Its very comfortable. The woman who runs the shop was lucky to have both time and a decent computer back in 2006, when she cruised the Internet how I miss it and downloaded all the Mozart she could find, sound files, images, and text. Shes found old-style motherboards and memory and managed to re-create a hard-wired version of the Internet, or at least a lot of the Mozart part of it, right in her shop.
Her partner is a theater director, and shes contributed a wonderful dimension to the shop a virtual theater allowing you to sample old videodiscs of Mozart operas, as well as that one promising experiment in historical reconstruction, the one the Salzburg Festival produced in 2009, just before the Final Intensification. Id forgotten how persuasive it was; I dont see how musical performance can get more real, short of using real musicians and real instruments unthinkable, of course, today.
Unfortunately the accelerated time mode is no longer available technology like that is gone, along with all the weapons, and its probably a good thing so we were content with just part of one of the quartets, but it was a pleasure to see Mozart on the viola and Haydn playing violin. I never did learn much German, let alone the 18th-century Vienna vernacular, so the joking went past me, but the winks and nudges between them during the Dissonant finale were pure pleasure.
MallMozart is part museum, too. They have almost the complete Collected Mozart Edition on shelves, real original paper copies. And they even sell DVDs of the scores, including the autographs, and searchable DVD versions of the Internet sites that used to be available through the airwaves. I dont know how they got permission for all this.
I met Khalila, the woman who runs the place the daughter, I think, of one of the founders. She said the idea came from the old coffeehouse concept; thats why they still have that espresso machine. Theres even an idea to franchise a series of MallMozarts throughout the entire country, from Medford down to Carmel. Its a great idea, of course: its time to begin developing a national cultural sense.
Were back on the road; Ill send this the next time I can make a connection, probably at the next hydrocell stop. Hope youre well and having fun!