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Category: finding miracles

“Metamorphoses” – Ovid, 102

to-be-titled.jpg!Large

   To Be Titled (1987) –

 

          Jean-Michel Basquiat

 

                     __________

 


next, according to Ovid, inspired, presumably,  

by the Gods, is what happens before the world 

is created

 

        Before the seas, and this terrestrial ball, 

 

which is to say, the earth

 

        And Heav’n’s high canopy, that covers all,

        One was the face of Nature; if a face:

 

the “face of Nature” was “One”, an 

indistinguishable, perhaps not even, “face”

 

        Rather a rude and indigested mass:

        A lifeless lump, unfashion’d, and unfram’d,

        Of jarring seeds; and justly Chaos nam’d.

 

this undifferentiated agglomeration, this “lifeless 

lump” was called Chaos

 

note the “seeds”, however, potential, though 

“jarring”, or conflicting, the genesis for what 

is to follow   

 

           No sun was lighted up, the world to view;

           No moon did yet her blunted horns renew:

 

the horns of the moon are visible when the 

crescent moon lies flat on the horizon, in 

the shape of a smile, presenting “horns”, 

the twin elevated extensions

 

           Nor yet was Earth suspended in the sky,

           Nor pois’d, did on her own foundations lye:

 

or lie

 

           Nor seas about the shores their arms had thrown;

           But earth, and air, and water, were in one.

 

see again Chaos here

 

           Thus air was void of light, and earth unstable,

           And water’s dark abyss unnavigable.

           No certain form on any was imprest;

           All were confus’d, and each disturb’d the rest.

           For hot and cold were in one body fixt;

           And soft with hard, and light with heavy mixt.

 

 

next, the first metamorphosis

 

stay tuned

 


R ! chard

 

 

 

on Beethoven’s Symphony no. 6, the “Pastorale”

the-sound-of-the-flute.jpg!Large

      The Sound of the Flute 

 

               Xu Beihong

 

                 ________

 

 

                                    for Susan, who urges

                                               me ever to write

 

 

a friend wrote recently, extolling a

performance of Beethoven’s Sixth

Symphony he’d just seen, a 

noteworthy conductor conducting 

 

then again, how can you go wrong, 

I wrote back, with that already 

enchanting music, sent him, in

return, a version I’d ferreted out,

tried out for him, had been duly

enchanted, had laughed, had cried, 

taken shelter from the storm, come 

out the other side transported, again  

 

I wondered about the power of music, 

during my intermittent musings

throughout the variegated movements, 

as the peregrinations ambled on along 

their own magical explorations, long 

irrepressible arpeggios running up or 

down the scales, performing 

arabesques at their peaks, rumbling 

tremolos at their grumbling bottoms, 

before returning to the more stable 

middle ground of the melody

 

where, wondered, does it all find its 

source

 

sounds, individual sounds, would 

have been signals of danger, 

originally, a single note from a horn

warning of strangers on the way to

a community of otherwise peaceful

cohabitants if not only family, twig 

cracking in the forest when you 

believe you’re all alone

 

individual sounds would’ve picked

up meaning beyond their own pitch

and volume, resonance, reverberation,

rotundity, through Darwinian, even, 

time

 

a mother’s voice, for instance, 

identified immediately, upon a single

note, perenially, by any of her brood

 

 

it’s a long way from there to a symphony

but those are its roots, why we laugh, why

we cry, take shelter from the storm, and 

come out the other side transported

 

notes are written, emblazoned, on 

our consciousness, our lives depended,

depend still, on it 

 

listen

 

 

 

R ! chard

 

psst: interestingly, our Darwinian evolution

          has produced pitch as an identifying

          factor for our species, a female voice 

          is higher than a male’s, this has 

          allowed us, as a species, to sing

String Quartet no 15, Opus 144 – Dmitri Shostakovich

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     Title page and key monogram of “The Mountain Lover” (c. 1895)

                                         

          Aubrey Beardsley

 

               ___________

 

 

after John passed away, I read, at a

gathering we had for him, something 

that I’d written in his honour, it began,

adagios always remind me of John,

John was a dancer, he walked like

one

  

a few days later, immersed as I

was in memories of him while 

mechanically washing some 

dishes, I heard, from symphony 

I’d put on in the background to

keep me company in my reverie,

its adagio

 

I dried my hands, put my arms

around myself, and we danced

to the end of the movement, I’d  

found, I understood, utterly, I

believed, miraculously, a key to

the very hereafter, adagios

would henceforth always

remind me of John

 

some time later, flipping aimlessly

through string quartets, of

Shostakovich among others, I  

happened upon this one, his 15th

String Quartet, Opus 144, which

had, to my astonishment, not one,

not two, not three, not even four

nor five, but six whole adagios,

this was John talking, I knew,

I’ve loved it ever since

 

listen

 

 

R ! chard

 

psst:

 

   String Quartet no 15, Opus 144

 

        l – Elegy: Adagio  

      ll – Serenade: Adagio  

     lll – Intermezzo: Adagio

     lV – Nocturne: Adagio

      V – Funeral March: Adagio molto

    Vl – Epilogue: Adagio

 

                              Dmitri Shostakovich

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

“The Man I Love” – the Gershwins

apollon-1937.jpg!Large.jpg

             Apollon(1937) 

             Charles Despiau

                    _______

flipping through old ruminations 
lately, that I’d left in my out box for 
whatever reason, I came across this 
number that I’d discovered on the 
Internet in order to soothe a trying 
emotional upset, when my heart is 
broken, I learn the words to torch 
songs, and wallow in their misery 
until the poignancy of the poetry 
seduces me and I revel in their 
caress, in their, indeed, excess

Apollo, my own personal deity, and 
I had split after 17 years, and though 
that story is completely different 
from the one in this torrid love song 
the anguish remains utterly the same, 
whether it’s around the man one 
loves, loved, or would love 

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


R ! chard

a “Musical Offering” – Bach

bouquet-of-flowers-1946.jpg!Large

    “Bouquet of Flowers (1946) 

            Martiros Sarian

                _________

                                      for Collin

a friend, who lives too far from me 
to visit, but who is too close to my 
heart for me to do nothing, has just 
had a stroke, “His body, smile, motor functions are improving.The most affected area is his speech center. He is filling in the gaps, has surrendered to his situation, but is operating at about 25% comprehension and memory. He has to rebuild his language, and is getting his ideas across with a lot of help in translation. He will be doing a lot of speech therapy. His uncanny resilience will serve him well.“, 
I’ve been advised

should I continue to write to him,
I’ve wondered, maybe just a few 
cheery words a day, does he 
take the time to read his mail, 
can he, does someone do it for 
him, should I call, or when  
I thought, if not anything else, why 
not music, something I can easily 
send, something he can hear, 
surrender to, rather than pay any 
more cerebral attention 

yesterday, I sent him Bach, Bach’s 
Musical Offering“, 1747, Bach is
from a much more serene period
in music than Beethoven, my 
recent area of investigation here
Bach wrote a lot of ecclesiastical 
stuff, cantatas and such, masses, 
was indeed music director for the 
Lutheran churches in Leipzig for 
a time, the combination makes for 
reflective, often even transcendental 
music, Beethoven wouldn’t at all, 
in this case, ‘ve done, with all of
his Sturm und Drang

I’m lighting a candle a day for my
friend, I’ll also be sending him
internet flowers, till I think of 
what else I can do but pray, for 
his speedy recovery


thanks for dropping by

R ! chard 

Violin Concerto no. 1 – Paganini

portrait-of-paganini-1832(1).jpg!Large

   “Portrait of Paganini (1832) 

          Eugene Delacroix

               ___________

before you start thinking that, because 
of my recent comparisons, Paganini is
a nobody, look what I found, had 
stupidly forgotten about, among the 
multiplicity of wondrous examples
concertos have to offer 

this will attest, as well, to my fallibility,
which I unreservedly confess, in many,
even familiar, matters, I used to not 
much remember the last time I was 
wrong, but writing makes one more 
aware of one’s even egregious 
insufficiencies, I love, I must say, 
that it makes one humble

meanwhile, Paganini’s First Violin 
Concerto has absolutely no faults,
it’ll run through your cultural veins 
like water, you’ll probably be able 
to sing all the notes, apart, of course, 
from the cadenza, which, in this 
instance, is the soloist’s, not
Paganini’sa not unusual occurence, 
indeed a common one, though it’s 
nice when they tell you who wrote it, 
the composer or the player, as they 
do in this case, cause unless you’re 
a total nerd you mostly wouldn’t be 
able to tell the difference 

the cadenza is the part, incidentally, 
where near the end of a movement, 
any movement, though usually not 
the slow one – think about it – the 
soloist struts hir improvisational 
stuff, independently from the 
orchestra, till s/he signals it back in 

I’ve said before that Paganini’s 
Caprices are a series, essentially,
of cadenzas, not at all such shabby 
stuff

meanwhile, I think Paganini is back 
in the running, what do you think


R ! chard

Fantasia in F minor, D.940 – Franz Schubert

Millais, John Everett, 1829-1896; The Princes in the Tower

 

        Princes In The Tower (1878) 
 
               John Everett Millais
 
                     ___________
 
 
flipping through the suggested list of 
YouTube videos that always accompanies
the main feature for a quite specific other 
quintet of Schubert, a work to compare 
chanced upon, by the very gleam of what 
it promised on the label, a Fantasia, rather, 
of Schubert for four-hand piano, in other 
words, two people, pups of the same 
family, it appeared in this instance, 
according to both their names, and the 
still picture
 
I wasn’t prepared to find two veritable
cherubs, dressed alike in black and 
white, not unlike those in the painting 
abovesit at the piano and deliver the 
very music of angels
 
written in May, 1828, Schubert died 
that November, age 31
 
the Fantasia is essentially a sonata
with all the breaks removed, it is 
played without interruption, this 
video indicates the three traditional
separations of the movements as 
they occur
 
you’ll find again tonality, tempo, 
and recapitulation rule, but the 
idiom is searching, clusters of 
notes are broken down, explored,
dissected, looking for some kind
of metaphysical solution, which
of course, can only be the quest
itselfimperceptible to the 
beseecher, who can only ever 
find it in the mirror of his or her 
own creation, in other words, the 
answer is in the process, we are 
ourselves our own metaphysical 
solution according to the life that 
we individually create, which, in 
this case, Schubert’s, is utterly 
magical, the very utterances of 
angels, Schubert must’ve been 
an angel
 
note the return of the original 
theme in the final movement, 
like a memory of something 
that started long ago, before 
the tumult and anguish of the 
intervening moments, the sigh
at the end, the very last note, 
a surrender, a submission, an
exhausted, and I use the word
advisedly, capitulation
 
 
if I’ve twinned the painting above
it’s that they are both expressions
of absolute innocence, unclouded
emotions before their either fate,
in one case, the message of 
Schubert, a very Annunciation
played appropriately by apt 
messengers, the other, dread 
before their direst of plights  
 
Edward, heir to Edward lV, King of
England, and Richard, his brother,
disappeared from the Tower of 
London after Richard lll had them,
ages 12 and 9, held there, no one 
has determined the true course of
events, apart from the fact that
Richard lll got the throne, 
however illegitimately 

 

note that the painting above is 
manifestly Romantic, 1878, though
late, Impressionism was taking 
over, but Millais, English, and not 
as controversial as the French, 
nor the Austrians, for that matter,
still delivered utter masterpieces
in the, however outdated, 
perspective 
 
the painting, at five feet by three,
is nearly life size, standing beside 
it is unforgettable, it is in a sober, 
dare I say, Protestant style, quite 
different from the Catholic 
Schubert and his more Italianate
sensibilities, it is spare in both 
colour and filigree, a consequence 
of strict rules established upon the 
arts after Charles ll, under William 
of Orange and Mary, 1689 -1702
 
the British will pick up again, 
artistically, but only marginally, in 
the 19th Century, they shine,
however, in the area of philosophy, 
mostly political, Adam Smith, for 
instance, significant in the shaping 
of the American Constitutionor 
empiricist, what there is to learn 
directly from experienceHobbes
BerkeleyLockeuntil it returns to 
Germany in the 18th Century with 
Kantconcerns more existential
does God exist, all the way up to 
Nietzsche in the late 19th Century
puts an end to Him, and the West 
prepares for secularism, separation 
of Church and State

 
the Princes“, like Schubert, are 
manifest in their horror, not 
stylized, but overt, flagrant
 
Jane Grey“, Delaroche, for the 
combination of drama, pathos,  
for Romantic attention to the 
plight of even regal personalities
 
 
R ! chard

 

pension protest, à la Russe

miriam-dances-1931.jpg!Large.jpg

  Miriam dances (1931) 

       Marc Chagall

             ______

a couple of retired Russian ladies spoofed 
a video that student airline pilots had 
performed, that shocked their academy,
who wanted the boys expelled

in protest, other Russians started sending
in their own versions of the dance, but these
two ladies, nothing at all like Tina Turner
turned out to be the Internet sensation

read all about it here, click on each of the
videos there, the girls’ and the boys’, you’ll
love ‘em


R ! chard

what’s up in Düsseldorf / Beethoven

tn_705x705_3

          the “Altstadt“, Düsseldorf, Germany

                  ______

from Düsseldorf, a city I’ve called 
Düsseldon’t, Düsseldreary, 
Düsselneverbother, comes a 
performance there to change, utterly,  
my mind about it, though I’d always 
known that every European city has
its extraordinary wonders, count ’em

watch this, for instance, one of those

Beethoven didn’t write string quartets
until he was ready, following in the 
footsteps of Haydn wouldn’t’ve been
easy, but Beethoven wasn’t wasting 
his time in the meanwhile, or, 
alternately, his while in the meantime
– while you consider that, listen

in his Opus 5, no 1, the first to leave  
me with much of an impression, as 
began to explore Beethoven 
chronologically, the first four 
opuses – a word I deplore, but its
equivalent plural, opera, seems 
to me so pretentious – seemed, 
indeed again, to me long, tedious 
and academic, a student delivering 
exercises  

then the Opus 5, no 1 hit, and blew 
me right out of the water, he verily, 
Beethoven, thrust the metre right  
out of the ballpark, propelled the  
music – who ‘ld ‘a’ ever thunk it –  
right off the page 

marvel, I urge


there was also a restaurant in 
Düsselwhatever I really loved,
it served an improbable 
assortment of schnitzels, the 
Altstadt 

we embraced, the staff and I, 
when I had to eventually, and 
finally, leave, to go back home, 
to Canada, I’ll always remember, 
never ever forget, their grace


R ! chard