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Category: Claude Monet

different trains – Reich / Bach

saint-lazare-gare-normandy-train.jpg!Large   

     “Saint-Lazare Gare, Normandy Train (1887) 

            Claude Monet

                   ________

since I’m on the subject of trains, let me
once again highlight a piece that, to my 
mind, is one of the most significant 
works of the 20th Century, Steve Reich’s
Different Trains“, an extraordinary 
homage to the victims of the Holocaust 

it is in three movements, America – 
Before the War”, “Europe – During the 
War“, andAfter the War“, Reich
recounts his impressions of train trips
that marked him throughout, therefore
this is an autobiographical work, as 
well as being an historical document,
and add to that a profoundly moving 
musical meditation on a pivotal 
moment in our history

I used to say that if you’re going to 
open your mouth, you should be 
either entertaining or informative,
preferably both, otherwise keep 
your mouth shut, many took 
offense, I must’ve been 
insufferable

but, I would opine, life is short, 
you’ll have to, I’m afraid, deal 
with your own shortcomings

Reich here has no shortcomings,
though at first you think this might 
be a long trip, with so many 
repeated musical clusters, not to 
mention the strident atonality, it  
soon becomes evident that this  
piece is amazing, a personal and
powerful evocation of a particular 
transformational event seen 
through the eyes of an innocent,
an American child, a poet, 
experiencing, however 
metaphorically, the horror of this
defining moment

style and content, information and 
entertainment, indissolubly gel to 
deliver an unforgettable experience, 
my own such pivotal moment 
would’ve been the Cold War air raid 
shelters, the nuclear threat

Reich holds on to Classical 
conditions by a mere thread, tempo, 
however variable, is solid throughout 
as a rock, dictated by the prepared 
tape that the instrumentalists must
follow rhythmically like a clock

another divergence from the 
Classical model is that tonality  
and recapitulation, apart from the 
repetition of musical clusters, is 
entirely jettisoned 

note, however, the same use of 
repeated clusters in Bach, to 
simulate propulsion, the 
minimalism of the 20th Century is
already prefigured in Bach’s stuff

plus ça change, as we say in French,
there is nothing really new, in other
words, under the sun


in the spirit of juxtaposing items
to discover much more than the 
sum of their parts, listen to Bach’s 
Second Suite, in D minor, for 
inspirational clarification 


R ! chard

psst: there were no trains at the time 
          of Bach, I should note, they were 
          a product of the later 19th-Century,
          its Industrial Revolution, see, for 
          instance, here, or above

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String Quartet, opus 77, no 1 – Joseph Haydn

the-red-cape-madame-monet.jpg!Large.jpg

      The Red Cape (Madame Monet) (c.1870) 

              Claude Monet

                    _______

                                              for my mom

that’s a lot of Haydn, I said to my mom, 
when I saw the list of my transmittals in
her hotmail, hm, I wondered, maybe it’s 
too much

then I said, but it’s like when we’ve 
toured, for instance, our European 
art galleries, me propounding on 
the paintings, as I am wont, however 
incorrigibly, to do, but now, note, you 
can tell the difference between your 
Monets and your Klimts, however 
similar their perspectives

or like your tour guide taking you
recently through Argentina, 
highlighting spots, in the space of 
a month only, the same amount of 
time I’ve spent for the music of 
Haydn

pronounced, incidentally, I specified, 
like “hidin'” in English, not “maiden”, 
just sayin’

I gathered that she’d ‘ve sensed by 
now, if she’d been listening, which she 
said she had, mornings over her 
coffee, what a string quartet is, four
movements, different tempos, fast
at first, a joyful introduction, 
followed by a lament, then a spirited 
third movement, for countereffect, 
then a big fourth movement finish

also, the internal structure of each 
movement would’ve been internalized,
theme, a counter theme, a 
recapitulation of both, or either, all of 
it, probably unconsciously, which is 
how art fundamentally works till you
meticulously deconstruct it

the string quartet is the work of Haydn, 
the house that Haydn built, from 
peripheral aristocratic entertainment, 
like modern day artists sporting their 
wares in noisy restaurants, to the 
glamour of taking on, in concert halls, 
Europe, Brunelleschi did a similar, 
sleight-of-hand thing with his dome 
in Florence for its oracular Cathedral

remember that the string quartet lives 
on as a form, where no longer does 
the minuet, for instance, nor the 
polonaise, nor even the waltz, not to 
mention that concertos, and  
symphonies have become now  
significantly subservient to movies, 
secondary players


watch the instrumentalists here live 
out, in Haydn’s Opus 77, no 1, their 
appropriately Romantic ardour,
something not at all promoted in 
Haydn’s earlier Esterházy phase, to 
raise their bow in triumph, as they 
do at the end of most movements
is already an indicationnot at all 
appropriate for the earlier princely 
salons, that times have changed

Haydn was a prophet, but also an
elder, with an instrument to connect 
the oncoming, and turbulent, century 
to the impregnable bond of his 
period’s systems, the legitimacy of 
the autocratic, clockwork, world, 
Classicism, the Age of Reason, the 
Enlightenment, for better or for 
worse

we are left with its, however ever 
ebullient, consequences

enjoy


R ! chard

Cyprien Katsaris in Budapest

Katsaris-Cyprien-01

       Cyprien Katsaris

               ________

if there’s only one concert you see 
this week – I would’ve said this year 
but I have way too many irresistible 
concerts to promote – make it this 
one, like none I’ve ever seen before, 
Cyprien Katsaris, who wowed us in 
my last encomium, delivers, not one, 
but two concertos, when emotionally 
I can usually deal with only one

but you can pause between the pieces, 
like I did, to wipe a tear or two away 
after the adagios, which remind me,
always, of my beloved, John

but that’s another story

Katsaris starts with an improvisation,
which he elucidates as an art form 
much more expertly than I would, 
then delivers stunning rendition of
his mastery of that gift 

though I couldn’t identify the first part
of it, the melting melody in the last 
section of his homage to, essentially, 
the Romantic Period, rushed back 
memories for me of a piece I could 
never forget, the music from Fellini’s 
heartbreaking masterpiece La Strada 
– listen, listen – right out of Romantic 
Period idioms, its very story evenlike 
Dickens’ Oliver Twist“, his Little Nell 
from the The Old Curiosity Shop“, 
staples of my adolescence, married  
to a nearly mythic lyrical invention 

let me add that improvisations have 
been an integral part of concertos for 
a very long time, the cadenzas, an 
interpolation by the performing artist, 
hir riff, a strutting of hir stuff, late  
in the, usually final, movement, a 
consequence, incidentally, of the 
more forward, individualistic, 
18th-Century progression towards 
individual rights, some left to the 
performing artist, but many 
prescribed by the composer himself,
where, here, I must, gender sensitive 
myself, unceremoniously interject to 
explain my deference to the
designation above, himself“, to male 
merely composers, who were then the 
only ones, however culturally ignobly, 
to nevertheless shape our quite, 
think, extraordinary musical trajectory, 
for better, of course, or for worse

in this instance, I suspect Katsaris 
wrote his own cadenzas for the 
Mozart, notice his arm at the end of 
the first movement fly up in an 
especial transport, and in the last 
movement, watch his very 
exuberance mark the spot, but 
couldn’t put it past Mozart to have 
written something so historically 
visionary

Bach, incidentally, wasn’t doing 
cadenzas, so don’t look for them 

the two concertos that follow the 
improvisation, Bach’s, my favourite 
of his – you’ll understand why when 
you hear it – then Mozart’s 21st – 
everyone’s favourite – are both 
played transcendentally 

consider the difference in period, 
the earlier Baroque, with Bach’s 
notes skipping along inexorably,
the pace required by the 
harpsichord, which didn’t have 
hold pedals to allow notes to 
resonate, the music moves along
therefore nearly minimalistic tracks, 
a pace, and musical motif, that don’t 
stop, they keep on chugging, until 
they reach their destination, their,
as it were, station, or even their

stasis

Mozart’s music is as effervescent,
but conforms to a different cadence,
where a theme is presented, then a
musical, and contrasting, second,
with recapitulation, sometimes
merely partial, which is to say that
the call and response dynamic of 
the dance, or for that matter, by 
extension, modern ballads, is  
being established, codified, and 
elucidated

an era has intervened

then as an encore, Katsaris delivers,
not a cream puff, but Liszt, of all 
people, we’re used to performers
giving us trifles at this point, but not
Katsaris

then to top it all off, he plays the Chopin 
you thought you’d never ever hear again, 
but here immaculate and utterly 
inspirational

the orchestra alone performs after the 
intermission, works by Ravel and Bizet,
surprisingly similar, I thought, the two
composers, in their musical idiom, the 
use of the winds as metaphors, for 
instance, for originality, eccentricity, 
unmitigated poetry within the context 
of what is not unnatural

neither is either composer adverse to 
atonality, they work in textures, instead 
of melodies, all of which is very 
Impressionistic, see of course Monet
and others for historical reference

did I say I want to be Cyprien Katsaris 
when I grow up, well there, it’s said,
he’s lovely 


R ! chard

on art, its purpose

poet-with-flower-2008-jpgblog

                                Poet With Flower (2008)

                                          Stefan Caltia

                                                 _____

wherefore art, I’ve long and often wondered,
with only a wink to Juliet’s Romeo, for my
question dug deeper, why, indeed, itself art

we build our souls on the stories we’ve 
heard, the impressions we’ve received
from voices that spoke directly to our 
senses, painters with paint, musicians
with music, writers with words, poets 
with poems

it started with fairy tales, which told of
right and wrong, good and bad, courage,
kindness, responsibility, and dire 
consequences for discord

Biblical stories also took up a lot of my own
childhood, Jesus, Adam and Eve, Moses
and the Ten Commandments, this last 
reinforced by Cecil B. DeMille’s epic

but soon enough it was Oliver TwistLittle
Nell, and by an inescapable authorial leap, 
since these were all by an irresistible 
Charles Dickens for a guy my age, Sydney
Carton, who valiantly stands in for his
friend, Charles Darnay, at the guillotine, a 
quantum, even existential, leap from 
Peter Pan and Mary Poppins 

though I had the good fortune to learn to 
read and write music as a boy, play music, 
learn about Bach, Brahms and Beethoven, 
it didn’t take anyone else much more than
their enthusiasm to see what the Beatles
were similarly doing, the Rolling Stones, 
the Supremes, they were not only singing, 
but making history, shaping it, and us, we 
followed the questions they rose, their 
responses, the effects upon ourselves
for nothing is considered until it’s 
mentioned, spoken, made clear, and they
were those prophets

the same goes for art, we see as we see
cause Monet, Picasso, Warhol showed 
us how to see, what to look at

and of course poets, Shakespeare, 
RostandDanteGoethe, to inform, each,
their individual language, and culture

I have been Philip CareyScarlett O’Hara, 
Blanche DuboisGary Cooper in High
Noon“, both Martha and George in 
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf“, lately 
I’ve been even Hank Williams

as Babette would say, a French doll who 
gets abducted in Raggedy Ann and Andy:
A Musical Misadventure“, an animated 
movie from the Seventies, – oo aahrr yoo 

Richard

psst: all of them have been me too,
      incidentally

a rumination on rain‏

spring-rain.jpg!Blog

                                                 Spring Rain 
 
                                        Erte (Romain de Tirtoff)
 
                                                    _________
 
 
since last November the days have 
been short, and have not hastened 
since winter to be longer, not 
helped either by the most recent 
time change, more than anything 
a biannual irritant  
 
nor has the rain stopped, apart from 
a few clement days, its persistent,
often pounding, onslaught
 
that’s me, above, expressing my 
displeasure
 
 
as usual, in distress, I turned to art 
to see, or hear, what others might 
have to say about my current 
dilemma, my chagrin du jour, if you 
like, in this instance, the Erte on rain 
took the sting out of the raindrops
 
others had inspired, a Gauguin,
unexpectedly grey, but haunting,
a Monet, of course, equally sombre, 
who painted in all weathers
 
Constable, uncharacteristically 
angry, was looking a lot like 
Turner, but more direct, accessible,
less oracular, more matter-of-fact, 
sensible, reading only the weather 
in the weather
 
Winston Churchill, of all people, 
gives us, incidentally, something 
in between
 
 
especially to my sense of poetry 
among the artworks I perused, 
someone I’ll have to further, for his 
tender homage to perhaps other 
colours than orange, explore
 
to me unknown, does a similar thing
in, essentially, a monochrome, with 
a fine mist standing in for ethereality
 
Miró is ever up to his old tricks, 
find it  
 
but Erte catches best of all my desire
for irony, sardonicism, self-criticism
 
in music I couldn’t think of anything 
other than Beethoven’s Der Sturm
to temper the weather, despite the 
fact that rain hadn’t been ever his 
inspiration, the title came from his 
publisher to increase sales, 
Beethoven wrote pure music, 
abstract, never specifically literally 
to describe, what is called program
music, his descriptions, his 
evocations, came unadulterated,
untransliterated, from the heart 
 
 
in literature nothing beats Somerset 
Maugham’s short story, Rain“, 
masterpiece of intrigue as well as 
literary prowess, searing substance 
married to superb style
 
the book was duly made into film,
and several times, with Gloria 
Swanson in 1928, Joan Crawford 
in 1932, and Rita Hayworth in 1953
none of these slouches
 
 
the clouds have now coincidentally
dispersed, the metaphorical ones, 
not so surprisingly, have been 
meanwhile displaced by my retreat 
into art, a recourse I’ve found to be 
always dependable, and, yet again, 
in this otherwise grim environment,
diverting and trustworthily inspiring
 
 
I wish you consequently, also, for 
similar reasons, art, a salve along 
life’s often obstreperous journey 
 
 
Richard
 

June, 2015‏


 "Fields in the Month of June" - Charles-François Daubigny

Fields in the Month of June (1874)

Charles-François Daubigny

___________

there were no poems not tawdry
about the month of June when I
looked, I read of the moon a lot,
of blossoms everywhere blooming,
troubadours crooning, couples
spooning, ubiquitously and
indiscriminately, none enough to
warrant my further attention

but this lyric, serendipitously,
finally, touched on what I thought
June might bring up

June, it said, is busting out all
over
, to corroborate, just click

incidentally, Monet, a year earlier,
1873, had painted his Wild
Poppies, near Argenteuil
, the
month of June in his conception
being addressed here perhaps
merely peripherally

but it seems Daubigny and Monet
must’ve known each other

again just click

Richard

Visconti’s Death in Venice‏

  William Turner -  "Venice Looking East from the Guidecca, Sunrise" (1819)

Venice Looking East from the Guidecca, Sunrise (1819)

William Turner

_______

Death in Venice is perhaps the most
beautiful film I’ve ever seen, just click

Visconti suffuses his masterpiece with
all the colours and textures of Monet,
Renoir, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, and
a host of other Impressionists, and
settles them all upon, nearly inevitably,
the splendours of a Canaletto Venice

Dirk Bogarde has never been better,
his von Aschenbach is definitive,
Silvana Mangano is every single inch
an aristocrat, the epitome of poise,
elegance and propriety, Tadzio is
throughout the very incarnation of a
Botticelli

all is given stately motion by the art
of film and made thereby into another
equal and haunting form of poetry

enjoy, marvel

Richard

psst: Visconti even makes Mahler sound
profound

as does Leonard Bernstein, incidentally,
in the accompanying clip, who is
manifestly transported throughout his
evidently otherworldly experience,
just as you might even be, just click

art in evolution‏ – from Monet to Wolf Kahn

Brain writes

“I would never have guessed that Wolf Kahn was a student of Hoffman. Yet you can see the influence in the colour choice and lack of detail. It somehow reminds me of impressionism. The child of Hoffman and Monet. Especially the painting “Subtle Pink, 2000″. It reminds me of Monet’s painting series “Poplars”.

For the record, I prefer Kahn over Hoffman.”

Wolf Kahn "Subtle Pink" (2000)

Subtle Pink (2000)

Wolf Kahn

______

Claude Monet "Poplars at Giverny"

Poplars at Giverny” (1887)

Claude Monet

________

I would also compare his “Orange Cloud Over the Adriatic Sea

Wolf Kahn - "Orange Cloud Over the Adriatic Sea" (1996)

Orange Cloud Over the Adriatic Sea (1996)

Wolf Kahn

______

to Monet‘s Impression, Sunrise

Claude Monet - "Impression, Sunrise"

Impression, Sunrise (1873)

Claude Monet

__________

what do you think

Richard

psst: art, like novels, has its templates