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Category: Apollo

“The Man I Love” – George and Ira Gershwin

apollon-1937-jpglarge

             Apollon” (1937) 

             Charles Despiau

                    _______

when my heart is broken, I learn the 
words to torch songs, and wallow in 
my misery until the poignancy of the
poetry seduces me and I revel in its 
caress

for a while now I’ve been yodelling 
along with Hank Williams, who, 
incidentally, sings in my key, though 
the accurate reach of his far-flung 
notes can be tricky

but today, I inadvertently slipped into 
this Sophie Tucker classic enough to 
change my tune

watch this wonderful rendition of 
The Man I Love in a version you’ll 
never forget for both its originality
and its great humanity

Richard

Polonaise in F# minor, opus 44 – Frédéric Chopin

"The Monument to Chopin in the Luxembourg Gardens" - Henri Rousseau

The Monument to Chopin in the Luxembourg Gardens (1909)

Henri Rousseau

__________

a short while ago, my sister touted,
virtually of course, an up-and-coming
pianist, from around the corner,
relatively, from where she lives

Charles Richard-Hamelin was born in
Lanaudière, Quebec, whereas she’s
been living in Montreal forever, apart
from a stint in Timmins, Ontario, where
we were both born, at least a generation
before Shania Twain put it on the map

I left in a hurry, she followed
somewhat less urgently, a condition
of an intermediary marriage, which
engendered a miracle, my single,
but extraordinary, nephew, though
not much else

at his website, Charles Richard-Hamelin
delivers a few examples of his talent, I
listened to a couple of his Chopins, was
especially impressed by their structure,
the way Chopin imbues strict Classical
conditions with melting, Romantic,
sentiment, the very ideal, in my
estimation, of poetry

you’ll note in the Polonaise he plays
the adherence to tonality, never a
melodic line out of place, a strict
tempo, not ever indulgent, or maudlin,
despite evident emotional appeals,
and the recurrence of the original
theme after an however intoxicating
digression, giving subsistence to an
otherwise flight of aimless airs, out
of any context

music gives coherence, order, to an
otherwise inchoate, inscrutable world,
Classical music represents the original
rhythm of the heartbeat – time, regularity,
logic, the possibility of understanding,
the foundation of our present Western
culture, for better, of course, or for
worse, if not, indeed, of our very
species – defrayed of language’s inherent
ambiguities, its malleability, elasticity,
the indeed outright potential for
duplicity it accords the spoken, or
written, word

music is not just entertainment, it is
a philosophy, Apollo’s most transparent
muse

listen

Richard

to my boyfriend in Mexico

"Window with Doves" - Gino Severini

Window with Doves (c.1931)

Gino Severini

________

I thought I’d watch a movie but these
songs of tortured love took over and
I can’t stop

here’s a song that defines my
Guadalajara trip, when Carlos, I think,
waiting for me in my hotel room,
sitting on the bed under a springtime
painting on the wall above it, asked,
may I kiss you, outside the
bougainvillea were blooming as they
do there in spring, I said yes

later on I found out about chicken
mole, a wonderful Spanish dish

everywhere then the song had
invaded the city, Nana Mouskouri
was singing it

Julio Iglesias seems to have made
sure of that

love

me

Alban Berg Violin Concerto‏

"Little Girl in Blue," - Chaim Soutine

Little Girl in Blue (c.1934-c.1935)

Chaim Soutine

________

though Apollo had offered the two
complimentary symphony tickets
he’d scored to my sister and my
mom, my mom bowed out and
suggested I, an adept, should
instead go along, though I needed
to know more about the content,
who and what would be on, no
one knew

meanwhile my sister, preferring not
to leave her husband alone, opted
to cede her ticket to Apollo so he
could accompany me

after some research, when I gushed
that Akiko Suwanai would be playing
Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D
minor – his only one, I cried – Apollo
reconsidered, would, he said, come
along, my enthusiasm having struck
apparently a reverberant chord, a key,
maybe his D minor

once at the concert, to our surprise
and delight, my sister and her
husband, under the spell also of that
maybe bewitching key, had got rush
tickets for essentially, as it were,
a song, so that serendipitously we
all attended the superb performance
together

Dad does concert tickets too, my
sister exulted

Suwanai was transcendent, lifted me
from my seat at the very first touch of
her exquisite bow, I floated, though it
might’ve been also the magic chocolate
I’d bought at the corner, this is Vancouver
after all, known also, not inappropriately,
as Vansterdam

you’ve heard rapturous versions of
Beethoven’s Violin Concerto on at
least one of my earlier blogs,
Anne-Sophie Mutter’s there, Joshua
Bell’s
, but I couldn’t get any of Akiko
Suwanai’s renditions on the Internet

found instead for you this wonderful
Berg
, also his only violin concerto

Berg is of the Second Viennese
School, along with Schoenberg and
Webern, this is no longer Beethoven,
the advent of the First World War in
the Western world had fundamentally
altered everything, the arts were
reflecting this transformation, idioms
were abandoned in every creative field,
as well as in borders and forms of
government, rudiments were being
questioned, tested, see what Soutine
does, for instance, to traditional
representation above, to perspective,
colour, proportions

you’ll note that Berg’s Concerto
doesn’t stipulate a key, part of the
disintegration musical theory was
undergoing, twelve-tone music,
rather than the traditional eight,
was eliminating the subordination
of sharps and flats within scales,
atonality became dominant,
sounding a lot like the cacophony,
I think, of Twentieth-Century traffic

you won’t mistake however the
utterly Romantic sensibility beating
through Berg’s composition, midst
all the discord and the dissonance
you can’t miss his pulsing and
ardent heart, his wistful, dare I say,
heartstrings

there are two movements to the
concerto, the first representing life,
the second death and transfiguration,
Berg had written this, his last work,
for Alma Mahler’s daughter, Manon,
after she died of polio at the age of
18, Alma Mahler had been Gustav
Mahler’s wife, a musical giant, Berg
dedicated the piece, he wrote,
“to the memory of an angel”

Berg died later that same year,
Christmas Eve, 1935, he was 50

Richard

psst: the first part of the programme
had been a bust except for a
lovely piece for violin and koto

what’s a koto, I asked Apollo

it’s what you wear when you’re
coldo, he replied

a koto is a bit like a xylophone,
but with strings instead of
wooden bars, the performer
had dressed in traditional
Japanese garb for the special
Japanese occasion

my Valentine

"A Bouquet of Roses" (1879) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

A Bouquet of Roses” (1879)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

___________

happy Valentine’s Day, Apollo said
over the phone at about ten this morning

hi, I said, can I call you back

I’ll call you back later, he answered

roger, we agreed, out

later he called to say it again, I found it
amusing, verging on charming, but later
still when we met serendipitously on the
street, where he’d sensed it would
imminently happen, though it hardly ever
does, he appeared bathed in golden light,
crossing the street towards me beaming,
very, indeed, Apollo, cutting a path
through the traffic and throng

I, of course, melted as I usually do, but
managed to hold onto my bags

happy Valentine’s Day again, he said,
I’d’ve bought you a rose, he suggested,
but they’re in bunches today, fifteen
dollars, that seemed excessive

where would I put them anyway, I
decided

we talked about a sign up saying, help,
I’ve fallen for you and I can’t get up, I’d
seen at the market, which, along with
the crush of roses and people on the
streets, had been enlivening, inspiring,
recollective

you could say it back, he said

you haven’t said it in seventeen years,
I retorted, I tried it back then several
times but it never seemed to work, I
gave up

I knew you’d say that, he contritely
replied, playing sheepishly along

okay, I said, happy Valentine

and I love you

I love you too, he replied

we embraced

the trees were sporting cherry
blossoms

birds, I think, sang

Richard

walking in beauty – January 9, 2015‏

Vincent van Gogh - "Orchard in Blossom (Plum Trees)"

Orchard in Blossom (Plum Trees) (1888)

Vincent van Gogh

__________

walking in beauty must be a conscious
thing, you don’t wake up doing it in the
morning unless you train yourself to

for the past few days I’ve incorporated
the prayer, am intending to learn it
through, not just its kernel, however
itself highly inspirational

In beauty I walk.
With beauty before me I walk.
With beauty behind me I walk.
With beauty around me I walk
With beauty above me I walk.
With beauty below me I walk
In beauty all is made whole.
In beauty all is restored.
In my youth I am aware of it, and
In old age I shall walk quietly the beautiful trail.
In beauty it is begun.
In beauty it is ended.

during the past several days the weather
has been grey, bleak, uninviting, there
was beauty only in the candles I lit, the
pyjamas I never took off, and, truth be
told, the chicken I broiled with soya
sauce, lemon juice and honey, with
baby carrots to dip, and carrot cake to
top it all off, with lots of icing

nor do I ever run out of wine

what’s not beautiful about that, I needed
to conclude after all those days moping,
feeling sorry for myself

I said the same to a friend today over
lunch, at presently the best restaurant
in Vancouver
, there she sat poised,
dripping in grace, a tailored olive
jacket, an ochre pendant with a light
brown scarf wrapped loosely around
her neck, stretched towards me with
just the right amount of both discretion
and attention, presenting her Mona Lisa
smile
, as she’d herself called it

she had crossed her defunct great love
inadvertently somewhere, his jaw had
dropped, she had smiled that mysterious
smile, she told me, and slipped beyond
his ken

should I go to Australia, she asked,
where her nephew’s daughter is
getting married, it’s hot, it’s humid,
it’s a long trip, I could die on the
way

every time I go downtown, I think I
might not make it, I retorted, but I do,
and I don’t

when was the last time you saw your
nephew, I asked

four or five years ago, she replied

you love him, he loves you, he would
be so honoured, I said, and if you die
on the way he’ll still be honoured,
they all will

this is how you walk in beauty, I said,
you latch onto the poem as it passes,
they’re fleeting, be they ever so many,
we let them go by, they would’ve been
our memories, instead of our default
position, where you could die anyway

today I left home, I said, saw my first
cherry blossoms of the season, midst
the gnarled van Gogh branches of the
other trees lining both sides of the
street, emerald moss growing already
along their trunks

a woman selling wares mouthing the
words to Billy Holiday’s “God Bless
the Child”
so that I thought she’d
been the one singing

beside her someone selling wooden
marionettes he was dangling, grinning,
trying to look enchanting in his Charlie
Chaplin clothes, looking more like
Ebenezer Scrooge, a wolf in sheep’s
clothing

but a cover of You, You’re Driving
Me Crazy
I sent Apollo, my Sun God,
for ukulele, megaphone, and of course
voice, inspired me more than anything
else today, I continued, turned my
frustration into poetry, how not to
mope, he’s been gone since before
C***mas, much too long

beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in
beauty all is made whole

to walking in beauty, we toasted

Richard

a merely theoretical dilemma, a poem


Albrecht Dûrer - "Apollo and Diana(" (1502)

Apollo and Diana (1502)

Albrecht Dürer

________

in the tradition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
a forthright, personal poem

a merely theoretical dilemma

yesterday, I had lunch with Vickie,
she said she admired our relationship,
despite the fact, which I’d interjected,
that there was no sex

she didn’t find that unacceptable

I found her concern more personal,
revealing, than strictly theoretical

then gave up the improbable
thought

I dream, however, ever, Apollo, and
irrepressibly, of your genitals,
knowing that your spawn would
transform me, ineradicably, into
a constellation, its crystallization
our progeny, into immortal stars

but that would mean leaving you,
Apollo, behind

could I, would I, do that

love

me

“No 7” (2014) – Apollo‏

Photo on 2014-05-13 at 12.09 PM

“No 7” (May, 2014)

Apollo

_____

Apollo, my Charioteer of the Sun, God of Music,
God of Poetry, God of Countless Other Things,
is also a painter

just recently he graced my wall, newly painted
Burning Bush in a spirit of springtime
regeneration, a colour I hadn’t been able to
resist for its beatific implications, with his
“No 7”, so named in order not to influence
the journey taken to interpret it

call it what you will, he said, and I’m still
working on it

but the other evening at his place, four of us
together for a glorious indeed dinner, I created
a party game that could offer suggestions

what would you call it, I asked, what would
you call it, I’m still asking

“Splash”, “Flurry”, and “I Don’t Know”, are
out, for being already taken

have fun

thanks

Richard

psst: the solar mirror, incidentally, is also his
invention, that’s a Manet in its reflection,
a print of course

Beethoven: piano concerto no 5, in E flat major, opus 73‏

"Beethoven" - Joseph Karl Stieler

A portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven (1820)

Joseph Karl Stieler

_____________

you might say a triumvirate of piano concertos dominate
our Western musical culture, a veritable trinity of pianistic
masterworks that tower over, and have ruled, our musical
consciousness throughout the modern epoch, the
Rachmaninoff 3 has been one of them, but the 5th of
Beethove
n is surely the granddaddy, the “Guppa” as a
favourite grandchild I know would say, the Olympian
Zeus, the Christian God the Father, of them all, in majesty
and authority, others quake in its overwhelming aura, it is
the sun to all the other stars

Glenn Gould is the standard still by which it should be
played, none yet, to my mind, has surpassed him

Karel Ancerl conducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestra,
a competent orchestration, overshadowed inevitably by
this prodigy, who nevertheless doesn’t ever flaunt his
finger play but remains faithful throughout to the
dictates, the tonal balances, of the music, it is 1972

I had mentioned “variations in volume, tempo, tonality,
the play of harmonization and discords” in Rachmaninoff
,
note the strict adherence to tempo here, even the fastest
runs of notes are grounded in beat, more solid, less elusive
than the iridescent Rachmaninoffian allusions to Debussy,
you could set a metronome to the appropriate tempo of
each individual movement in Beethoven, it would remain
constant, apart from a few restrained ritardandos near
the end of some musical elaborations, until its very final
apotheosis, beat was ever an anchor for the fulgurating
Beethoven, an article of faith from which he strayed only
with great circumspection

note the language is not emotional, passionate and ardent,
but philosophical, metaphysical, Beethoven is confronting
cosmological considerations, existential realities, not the
more emotional concerns that confound us every day, it’s
God he’s talking to, eternity, not the incarnate tendrils
of the moment, not the poignant stuff even of soon
through Schubert a Chopin, Beethoven was at the start
of that Romantic Movement, indeed its very first
proponent, but not quite ready to wear his heart itself
on his sleeve, but a more spiritual, probing reason, whose
ardent metaphysical ratiocinations would set all the others
on fire, setting the stage for all the other stars

later, if you haven’t guessed what it’ll be already, I’ll
supply you with the third concerto, the Holy Ghost, of
the trinity, the Apollo, god of music and the sun, among
our concert greats

Richard