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Month: February, 2019

on a personal note

roses.jpg!Large

    Roses (c.1886)

 

          John Singer Sargent


                     ____________

 


on a personal note, since I prefer longer 

pieces, something I can sink my teeth 

into – I like them when they’re long, I 

always say – which led me into spending 

33 years with Proustfor instance, page 

by page, so that I could breathe it in, him, 

tend to veer towards music with several 

movements, be they serial, as in sonatas, 

symphonies, concertos, Classically 

speaking, of course, or haphazard, as 

in the more loosely associated suites

 

rather than smelling merely the rose,

as in a simple waltz, nocturne, étude,

I want to revel in the aroma of an

entire garden

 

therefore the three hours of Liszt‘s

Années de pèlerinage“, for example, 

even Wagner‘s daunting five hour 

operas, individual portions of his 

towering, indeed epic, four-part 

“Ring” cycle, enthral me 


these are high masses, and if you 

subscribe to the faith, the experience 

they allow can be transformational,

however such may still be, 

nevertheless, a mere rose, a mere, 

but epiphanic, rose, as is, for 

instance, the exquisite Opus 10, no 3

of Chopin, “Tristesse”, or Sadness, 

inveterately, for me 

 

a rose, a creation as unique as we 

are, in our shared, however unevenly

apportioned, mortality, proud, sturdy,

protected by thorns, even, meanwhile, 

as we are, in our own manner, against 

our own existential vicissitudes 

 

but vibrant, also, ever, drenched in 

any of its several arresting colours, 

fragrant, poised, full of perfect grace, 

as we should be ourselves, I’ve told 

myself, not only with regard to their 

beauty, but to their inspiration, 

whether a deity exists that we 

might be beholden toincidentally, 

or not

 

Shostakovich has something poignant

to say about that, also Beethoven, but 

that’s another story, for later, maybe, 

however, either, powerfully 

consequential

 

until then, l’important, as we sing in

French, c’est la rose

 

or heed, it says, in other, but 

nevertheless ever instructive words,

the wisdom of very nature

 

I live by it

 


R ! chard

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“Années de pèlerinage”, 2nd Year – Liszt

petrarch.jpg!Large

     “Petrarch (c.1450) 

 

           Andrea del Castagno


                     ___________

 

 

                                    for John, who would’ve 

                                                       been 60 today

 


though the suite might’ve started with

Bach’s string of dance pieces in the 

early 18th Centuryit becomes evident 

during the 19th Century, after a lapse 

of nearly 100 years, while it fell into 

disfavour, that its resurrection as a 

valid musical form might’ve kept the 

original structure, which is to say its 

several separate parts to make up a 

whole, its movements, but that it 

now was serving different purpose 

 

where music had, through to the early

Romantic Period, followed dance 

rhythms, or variations of tempo,

adagio, andante, allegro, and the like,

it now presented itself as a background

for settings, be it ballets, as in

Tchaikovsky’s, plays, as in Edvard

Grieg’s celebrated , Peer Gynt Suite“,

after Ibsen‘s eponymous play,

specific locations, as in Debussy’s

Children’s Corner“, or more  

expansively, both geographically

and in its compositional length,

these very “Années de pèlerinage” 

of Liszt

 

this is in keeping with the exploration

of consciousness of that era, which 

would lead to not only Impressionism, 

but to Freud, and the others, and the 

development of psychoanalysis

 

you’ll note that music seems much 

more improvisational in Liszt than in

Chopin, or Beethoven, prefiguring

already even jazz, more evocative,

less emotional, more personal, not

generalized, idiosyncratic, a direct

development of the newly acquired

concept of democracy, one man, at

the time, one vote, one, indeed, 

voice, however individual, however 

even controversial 

 

listen, for instance, to Liszt’s “Années

de pèlerinage”, 2nd Year, Italy 

 

   1. Sposalizio

   2. Il penseroso

   3. Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa 

   4. Sonetto 47 del Petrarca 

   5. Sonetto 104 del Petrarca 

   6. Sonetto 123 del Petrarca 

   7. Après une lecture de Dante: Fantasia Quasi Sonata 

 

 

today you can listen to suites 

from famous films, for instance 

Blade Runner“, the beat, in 

other words, goes on

 

but note the renovations, find them, 

dare you, you’ll be surprised at 

your unsuspected perspicacity

 

listen

 

 

R ! chard  

Années de pèlerinage, 1st Year – Liszt

sketch-made-by-travelling-in-italy-and-switzerland-1906.jpg!Large

     Sketch made from travels in Italy and Switzerland (1906)

 

             Nicholas Roerich 



                  __________

 


a suite by any other name is still 

a suite, a piece of music with  

several related parts, a collage, 

in painterly parlance 

 

one New Year’s Eve, rather than 

going out to celebrate, I took a

hot bath, rose at midnight like 

Venus from the cleansing waters, 

sat with my teddy bear before 

bristling fireplace, and listened,

serene, to Liszt’s “Années de

Pèlerinage”, all three of his

magical compositions around 

his time in Switzerland and Italy,

rendered as musical photographs, 

they are of Liszt, I think, his 

summit, his acme, the rest of his 

stuff is mostly show business

 

here’s his Première année:

Suisse“, to my mind, a marvel 

 

        l – Chapelle de Guillaume Tell

       ll – Au lac de Wallenstadt

      lll – Pastorale

      lV – Au bord d’une source, or, By a Spring

       V – Orage – Storm

      Vl – Vallée d’Obermann

     Vll – Églogue

    Vlll – Le mal du pays (Heimweh) – Homesickness

      lX – Les cloches de Genève (Nocturne) – The Bells of Geneva

 

 

R ! chard

“a simple story” – R ! chard

book-of-time-oil-painting-18-x-24-2014-xm.jpg!Large

   The Book of Time (2014) 

 

         Nina Tokhtaman Valetova


                     ______________

 


ferreting through old papers the other

night, I foundin a forgotten corner of 

my closet, this poem, I thought it had 

some merit 

 

         _________

 

a simple story, 

 

                   mine.

                               Like yours,

     it has its moments

           — passion,

                pain,

                         to each in similar proportions

                              (I’ve also had a broken heart,

                                and you are happy too, sometimes) —

 

     moments telling tales, a lot, for me

         of this

         or that

                       — and every tale is true, in time, 

                                                             of everyone —

 

     moments that pass,

            one,

                     and then the next,

                                                       just gone,

                                                       like that,

 

     and apart from what is here,

                           right here — this black and white —

     this thirtieth day in May,

                           nineteen seventy-nine,

           its 13:48,

                then 49,

                                        are gone,

 

                                        just gone,

                                        like that !  

 

                                                R ! chard

 

Swan Lake / Swan Lake Suite – Tchaikovsky

1024px-Swan_Lake_prodution_2008_at_the_Royal_Swedish_Opera

    from a 2008 production of Swan Lake at the Royal Swedish Opera


        _________________________

 


did you know that the girl in Swan Lake

is called Odette, my mom asked when I

told her I’d been looking it up, my mom’s

name is Odette

 

I’m the one who told you, I said, and

incidentally, I continued, she’s not a 

girl, she’s a swan, which left my mom, 

of course, flummoxed, indeed mum

 

a day later, we watched it 

 

there she is, I pointed out, when Odette

made her appearance, fluttering in on

tiptoes from the wings, every single 

inch a swan

 

as was equally the prince, in this

magnificent production of the Kirov, 

every single inch a prince

 

watch

 

 

here’s the Swan Lake Suite“, however

 

how is it different

 

listen

 

 

R ! chard

 

psst: if you said the Suite is a collection

         of miscellaneous excerpts from

         the ballet strung together but with 

         instruments only, no sets, no 

         costumes, no dancers, you’re right, 

         the Suite can give you a taste of 

         the complete work, though it 

         stands magnificently enough, 

         thank you very much, on its own 

 

         enjoy