All Reviews From The Rational Argumentator
Christopher Schlegel’s first symfonic work is an elegant, enjoyable, tightly logical creation, permeated with a spirit of grandeur and heroism that presents a welcome alternative to the blandness of much of today’s esthetic culture. Mr. Schlegel created the Symphony #1 in C Major in 1994-1995, and used it as the first practical application of his unique symfonic style. Thus, both the context and content of the symfony are best summarized by his own recollection of it: “I think of a long journey filled with difficult obstacles that are in the end joyously and victoriously conquered.” This journey is steady, but not monotonous, and will present the listener with many intriguing experiences along the way.
A noble symfony must by its nature depict a noble subject, one worthy of contemplation and emulation. Mr. Schlegel provides this subject for his Symphony #2 in E Minor. Of it, he writes, “Whenever I listen to this symphony I think of ancient Vikings: living in a cold, harsh, forbidding land, sailing far away to unknown, dangerous places, seas and lands. I kept most of the work in minor keys, which many times project sadness and/or loneliness. These things are present in the work to a smaller degree, but the main thing I wanted to get across with this ‘minor’ sound was essentially the incredible seriousness of purpose with which the Vikings must have faced their existence.” This seriousness of purpose is indeed abundantly found in Mr. Schlegel’s work, and is a worthy subject for listeners to delve into, especially as applied to moments of extreme adversity.
I would like to introduce every man who appreciates classical music and Reason to the work of one of the most innovative and ingenious composers of our time, who has both built upon the legacies of great classical masters such as Beethoven and Mozart, and extended classical music’s possibilities for harmony, theme, and structure into a new and radiant realm. Christopher Schlegel provides the long-awaited reaction against those modernists who would wish to tear down the musical edifice of Western culture, and instead seeks to build it up to unprecedented heights. The traditional symfony contains four movements, but Mr. Schlegel’s “Symphony #3: The Virtues of Man,” exhibits seven purposeful and rationally integrated ones. Each of the movements is named after one of the seven cardinal virtues of the individualist as identified by Ayn Rand. Each is immensely rich in itself, and exhibits ample variety in form and content. Nevertheless, this symfony is united by several key elements: harmony, dynamism, logic, and purpose. It renders the Objectivist virtues accessible to the listener in a concrete form, which can inspire further visualization and conceptualization. In essence, it accomplishes what every musical composition should strive for, a consistent portrayal of its subject and theme. Rather than the static and dogmatic virtues propagated by the old faiths, the Objectivist virtues are to be savored for the very experience of their actualization. Learning about and adhering to the virtues is a reward, not a penance, and, accordingly, every passage of this symfony will be enjoyed by listeners with an ear for logical patterns, progressions, and harmonies. While focusing on these particular relationships, the apt listener will also be able to contemplate the macroscopic dynamic of this work, and the sort of image it conveys of the individualist creator, and the listener himself.
Christopher Schlegel’s Symphony #4 is modeled after his favorite work of his favorite composer, which also happens to be my favorite work of my favorite composer: Beethoven’s Seventh Symfony. Like Beethoven, Mr. Schlegel is highly skilled in employing all the possible contrasts of melody, tempo, key, and instrument type in order to convey the essence of his work. The Symphony #4 is both a model for the efficacy rational compositional techniques in conveying just about anything, and for the sense of life that Beethoven shared, which few in our contemporary era even recognize: a sense of proud, undiluted, triumfant grandeur, a sense to which our society desperately needs to return, and which Mr. Schlegel serves as a guardian of in these troubled times.
Mr. Schlegel’s fifth symfony was written with the intent to demonstrate a serious, purpose-driven mood throughout, and apply it to the theme of “overcoming adversity.” By employing both forceful minor and radiant major, Mr. Schlegel is able to portray every facet of this topic, in both struggle and triumf. Thus, the listener is treated to yet another contemporary work that is capable of employing impeccable rationality to convey a crucial facet of the human condition.
Christopher Aaron Schlegel’s endeavor to musically represent the fundamentals of the Objectivist ethics has led him to compose two major works, his “Symphony #3: The Virtues of Man,” and his “Symphony #6: The Values of Man,” in which the three movements are named for the three concepts of greatest worth to the individualist, Reason, Purpose, and Self-Esteem. With lengths ranging from twelve to seventeen minutes, each movement contains enough room to be comprised of several logically related sections that convey a systematic quest to achieve the value portrayed and/or a struggle to preserve it in adverse circumstances. Within the context of the entire symfony, features can be found in common to all the movements: the frequent juxtaposition of minor and major passages, highly mobile and wide-ranging voices for the strings, and the frequent side-by-side presence of moments of delicateness, serenity, and peace with bold fanfares symbolizing prodigious activity and accomplishment.