Archive | October, 2013

The Passionate:

Posted on 14 October 2013 by Hao Li (Meds 2016)

The orchestral writing of Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), all of which set in the context of a composition for piano and orchestra, has often been criticized as “lacking”. Opponents attack his style of directing most of the spotlight at the piano while the orchestra serves as a “mere background”. But such radical departure from convention is exactly what breathes life into the Polish composer’s timeless masterpieces for piano and orchestra.

Chopin was always an innovator, never ceasing to create something new. He possessed a remarkable gift for the piano, and from a young age carried an obsessive desire to invent his own style of music. Even in his earliest works, such as the Variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano” (written at age 17) and the first études for piano (written at age 19), the unique qualities of Chopin’s music were already beginning to manifest. Indeed, it was as if he was born for the piano, and the piano invented for him. Never had piano music in its history witnessed such inventiveness of ornamentations and cadenzas. Never had any pianist produced such subtle nuances from the pedal. And never had the Romantic spirit been more fiery and passionate. At the age of 20, Chopin completed his two Piano Concerti and presented them to the Polish audience. It was the last concert that he would ever perform in his motherland, but the power and national pride that the two works expressed would leave behind an impression in the hearts of his fellow countrymen forever.

The two Piano Concerti by Chopin are milestones in the literature of piano music. In them, Chopin formulated an entirely novel pianistic language, demonstrating the full potential of the instrument. At the same time, he laid down the foundation for his compositional career. The forms and structures employed in the Piano Concerti would foreshadow many of his later, even more renowned pieces, such as nocturnes, scherzi, and mazurkas. The First Piano Concerto featured here contains a potluck of preludes, ballades, scherzi, nocturnes, impromptus, and dance forms. It is a composition for piano and orchestra in three movements, and is an epitome of the Romantic passion, permeated from beginning to end by a ceaseless aspiration to live life to the fullest.

The first movement is a merciless typhoon. The Sturm und Drang (storm and stress) exhibited by the orchestral opening sends shockwaves right down to our cores before we have even had the time to prepare our minds for the music. But this is just the beginning. After several minutes of roaring and howling, it softens down and gives way to the piano, which finally awakens from its slumber. Now, Chopin shows the world what the instrument can really do. Without hesitation the piano reveals itself, unleashing melody after melody of inconceivable beauty that leaves the listener speechless. Its countless ornamentations and elaborations, accompanied quietly by orchestra, are unprecedented and magical beyond comprehension. The first movement centers on the contrast between two themes, one melancholy and the other hopeful, with occasional interjections of fiery ardor. Finally, it consummates in a relentless coda that drives it to a furious conclusion.

The second movement provides a dramatic contrast to the first. It is a serenade, a pastoral idyll. The listener lies in a boundless field, and about her there is only peace, sunshine, and the sweet, fresh scent of flowers. What a perfect dream! How she wishes that it would never end. The delicate piano melody plays on, and the serene accompaniment by muted strings is like a cool summer breeze, gently and playfully dancing across her face. What loving caress, timeless and ethereal… A light rain drops by briefly, then the sun comes out again. How entranced is she, that she does not even know when the dream has quietly left her in the darkness of the night. And in her ecstasy and bewilderment, she finally comes to grasp what had happened. Ah! It was only a dream…

Having experienced the romantic melancholy of the first movement and the blissful reverie of the second, we now hear the finale arriving joyously on the scene. Its thematic content is derived from the krakowiak, a lively Polish dance form with syncopated rhythms. Once again, two opposing musical ideas are presented side by side, the first energetic and flirtatious, and the second grounded and reserved. But regardless of the melodic or rhythmic quality, the piano is in almost ceaseless motion. Indeed, this movement showcases the piano as an unrelenting racehorse, containing some of the most difficult and brilliant passages ever written for the instrument. Its energy cannot be quenched, and with the momentum of sheer resolution it gallops jubilantly to the finish.


Piano Concerto no. 1 in E minor, Op. 11

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Those Post Call Days

Posted on 14 October 2013 by Jimmy Yan (Meds 2015)

So for those keeping track at home, right about now marks just past the 1 month point since the actual beginning of clinical rotations. By now we’ve probably have had a decent exposure to a range of clerk responsibilities, including…(dramatic drum roll)…call.

Yes, call, that one word that make your average preclerk pull off a near perfect Macualay Culkin impersonation.

But no, we’re clerks now, and just like Freddie serenades, we must go on.

And besides, inevitably, we all got to do call. It’s just a fact of life (of a clerk).

But it turns out, the whole process of being up in the night, isn’t that bad. Note: this is the personal opinion of a self inflicted insomniac. Like Hooch, I’m craaaaaazyAs long as you’re up and about and doing something, the body’s seems to shunt enough fresh blood to the brain to keep it perfused enough to maintain lucidity and sanity. And if something active or acute is happening, then at least the adrenaline is better than coffee!

What does suck though, is when that buzz comes crashing down. Dawn breaks, morning rounds or handover occurs and you finally exit to sweet, sweet, fresh air.

And then what? You got a post-call day, which is some much coveted free time; yet you’re not exactly at the peak condition to enjoy it. So what to do?

Fortunately our handy research crew (ie: me) has searched high and low, even with the government shutdown. From that, we present to you the list of the top 5 to do, and also, top 5 things not to do, during that post call daze (oh hey wordplay!) if you DON’T want to simply sleep.


5) Go on a shopping spree.  – Seriously, you’re judgement is impaired, you’re blood sugar is a little off, and you’re vision is a bit blurry. You’re going to be after any little sparkly doodad or supposed “good deal” out there. Even worse, the Masonville Apple store is just a short bus ride away.

4) Fall asleep in a frat house. – While sleep is key. Make sure you’re vigilante of your surroundings when you do snooze. Make sure you don’t nap in any area where people could assume you’ve simply passed out from intoxication (because, let’s admit it, by this point you could pass off as a drunk), and you end up on this site (NSFW).

3) Try to pick up. – You simply aren’t as sauve as you think right now. Period.

2) Go for a long, extended drive. – Yes, you need that car to get back home to that ever alluring bed, but you don’t need it to just hit the open road (even if Bryan Adams compells you). Seriously, there are a number of articles telling you this is a bad, bad, idea.

1) Do another call shift. No. Just. No. 


5) Attempt to do some course reading : Yes, nerd alert , but just hear me out. This is a win-win. Either the act of reading puts you out to a peaceful sleep completely…OR you learn something and get to impress and WOW your residents and attending on your next shift (only you won’t but it’s nice to think that).

4) Eat, and lots of it: Typically you finish call at around noon the next day. This calls for five words: All. You. Can. Eat. Sushi. ‘Nuff said.

3) Have a light work out: Emphasis on the light, as you probably aren’t at your peak self. Despite this, take the opportunity to stretch the muscles a bit, get that cardio going, and burn off some of the crappy calories you consumed during the middle of the call shift.

2) Sit/Lay down on the grass: When was the last time you got to see the sun afterall? If you have the opportunity, take it, you never know when you’ll hit that dreaded streak of “go in when dark, leave when dark” phase known as the Canadian winter, so make like Superman and recharge off the rays of our yellow sun.

1) Catch up on some shows: From Netflix to YouTube, the web is brimming with series to start, catch up on, or rewatch. I’m recommending some Archer, or if you can’t get enough of medicine: Scrubs.

So there you go, what do you think of this list? Have more ideas or suggestions? Why don’t you put them in the comments below.

Didn’t like the post? Well don’t blame me, I’m writing this post-call!

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