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Tag: Monet

Piano Concerto no 2 in G major, opus 44 -Tchaikovsky


    Beech Grove I (1902) 

           Gustav Klimt


if a sonata, or any composition for one 
instrument, is a meditation, a rumination,
an introspection, a concerto is its entire
opposite, it’s a declamation, a very 
harangue, the performer is not only 
before an audience, but before an
orchestra, before the conductor of that 
orchestra, that soloist had better be, 
therefore, something

Tchaikovsky’s 2nd Piano Concerto 
hasn’t cut the cultural mustard, you’ve
probably never heard of it, never mind 
heard it, not even in the miasma of our 
collective unconscious 


who knows, it’s magnificent

I suspect that Moscow’s distance, 
St Petersburg’s, might’ve had something 
to do with it, Russia would still have been 
a backwater to Europe, regardless of what
Catherine the Great might’ve done for its
intellectual edification, indeed a veritable 
Elizabeth the First, Queen of England
she, in her sponsorship of the arts

something like that happened, but in 
reverse, to Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele 
in art, SchoenbergBerg, Webern, the 
Second Viennese School in music, in 
literature, Robert Musil, his The Man
Without Qualities very rival to 
Proust‘s epic trip down memory lane, 
Remembrance …“, when the centre 
of gravity for the arts moved from 
Vienna to Paris in the late 19th 
Century with the advent of 

France had entered its Fourth
Republic by then, was to finally 
entrench its democracy, and we got 
MonetDebussy, and indeed Proust 
instead, not to mention all of that 
city’s celebrated others

leaving creative Vienna, meanwhile,
the undisputed engine of the Zeitgeist
the spirit of the times, for over three 
quarters of an earlier century, thereby,  
in the dust

New York would take over in the 
1950s, similarly, for a time, Andy
Warhol and The Factory, eclipsing 
any other town

in other words, location, location, 
location, in tandem with historical 

R ! chard

how to read music – Cello Sonata in D major, opus 102, no 2 – Beethoven


     “Head in Black and Green (1913) 

            Alexej von Jawlensky


the line of music, the essential melody, 
is not resolved in Beethoven until several 
bars from the beginning in his Fifth Cello
Sonata, one note follows another without 
any specific reference to what preceded it 
but the tempo, and the voice, which is to 
say, its tonality

there is ever, however, though perhaps 
sometimes eccentric, a harmony, a 
convincing argument, we are speaking 
the same language

as in reading, one follows the musical 
line for those several bars, hanging 
onto each note for meaning, spotting 
even commas, semi-colons, periods, 
however unconsciously, until one 
reaches the end of the paragraph,
made evident by the recapitulation

therefore music
which doesn’t only, however, 
recapitulate, here, but elaborates, 
adding depth, dimension, local 
colour, to the already intricate 

Beethoven is challenging the very 
idea of music in this composition
much as later the Impressionists 
did, for instance, when they 
upended the entrenched idea of 
merely representational art – 
process I saw reverberating in my 
very own 1950’s, ’60’s, when even 
Monet, people objected, could’ve 
been managed by their children

Picasso, of course, was, at the time, 
nothing less than a joke, not to 
mention any of the Surrealists, or – 
gasp – the Expressionists, see

I prefer the very early cello sonatas  
of Beethoven, for their verve, their 
energy, the second movement, the 
Adagio con molto sentimento 
d’affetto” in this late oneoverdoes 
it, I think, a little, it’s like sitting with 
someone you can’t leavewhose 
sorrow is immense, and which you 
can barely handle, but must, out of,
if nothing else, chivalry, or common,
and insuperable, one hopes, human
consider, and duly, 
thus, proffer, ideally, grace

who hasn’t been there

R ! chard

String Quintets – Mozart / Beethoven


           Claude Monet
concerned about presenting Beethoven’s 
Opus 59, the next significant string quartets 
of the early 19th Century, too early – 
Beethoven had, incidentally, at that point no 
rivals – I preferred to establish his credentials, 
rather than to enter his next phase, equivalent 
to the move from representational art to 
Impressionism in painting, a sea change,  
people would’ve balked at the very concept   
of an alternative vision, and indeed they 
were confused
this sea change, I should point out, challenged 
the very notions of what not only art should be, 
but also music, and literature, indeed very life 
perspectives, philosophies
therefore the Romantic Period, when 
expressions of personal epiphanies began 
to crowd the new democratic environment 
after the French Revolution, 1789, all of 
which would lead to, eventually, our own 
allegiance to, at least in the West, the 
concept of human rights
music was already, in other wordstalking,
and with Beethoven, indeed vociferously 
still adheres to Classical conditions, 
but bursts through them emotionally
written only 14 years earlier, one of six
of his
you won’t find them, perhaps, on the 
surface, to be very different, wouldn’t 
be able to even tell them apart in a
blind pinch 
but juxtaposing, as I always urge, 
sharpens one’s aesthetic pencil, ask
yourself, in this case, according to 
your senses, which of the compositions 
is earlier, you’ll find your senses have 
already told you
everything flows from that initial 
answer, when you ask yourself why  
you think that
I’d asked my mom at Belvedere, 
Vienna, whose painting hung across 
the hall we’d just entered
she demurred, of course, considering 
herself not up to the challenge, despite 
several visits together we’d had among 
a wonder of other European art galleries
I insisted
she tossed off, okay, Renoir, an easy 
answer, though it turned out to be a 
Degas, or the reverse, or whatever 
but upon reaching the painting, of 
course, Degas, she said, knowing full 
well it was himhaving lacked only the 
pluck and the confidence 
who’s that, I asked, turning to another
Monet, she replied, confidently
and was, as I’d anticipated she would 
becorrect, she can now tell her 
Rembrandtfrom her Courbets, her
Canalettos from her Vermeers also
we know of a lot more than we 
think we do
R ! chard

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

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

enjoy, marvel


psst: Visconti even makes Mahler sound

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

“Song of the South”‏ – Walt Disney

it’s been over fifty years since I’ve seen this movie,
never thought I’d see it again but now for the magic
of the Internet, the boundless trove of irreducible
treasures, like those in Ali-Baba’s caves, or the
attics of our ancestors, stowed away, open again
to our poetic or otherwise imaginations, at our
very fingertips
I remembered this movie to be wonderful, moving,
but not much else, except for the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-
Dah” theme, which is unforgettable, and a single
plot twist it would be unchivalrous to divulge 
it has apparently been controversial, and is
presently banned, it would appear, in cinemas,
but it would be to my mind as racially insensitive
as “Huckleberry Finn”, “Tom Sawyer’, or even
“Gone with the Wind” have been, when they
were patently giving voice rather to a shocking
human cultural, and political, abomination, 
however awkwardly, that is still powerfully,
shamefully, even manifestly, resonant
this is not a universal, note, condition, every
season for any culture has its bugbears, its
demons and monsters, and woe to the
unfortunate and inadvertent victim 
in perhaps his most wonderful movie, and there
were quite a few, Song of the South“, Walt Disney 
lets us know that we’re all in this together, and
that kindness meets kindness in everyone, when
you open your heart 
and that the reverse is horrible 
Walt Disney is of course one of the great cultural
influences of the 20th Century, dismissed among
the titans as merely for kids
Walt Disney will be for an entire generation the
place where we learned our moral ABCs, much
more than in the dire Bible
as such he’s no less significant an artist, not at
all less significant, than Monet, Picasso, for
instance, Beethoven, Shakespeare, in shaping
our present moral and aesthetic world 
you’ll need some Kleenex 
you can also sing along 
psst: filmed, I’m sure, right here in beautiful Stanley
         Park behind my place in Vancouver, even the
         animated portions    

Debussy, “L’isle joyeuse”‏ (“The Joyous Island”)

here’s Daphne doing Debussy, his L’isle joyeuse, from 1904,
a long way from Beethoven, 1798 
had it not been for Beethoven though, making music into a
language, instead of merely a Mozartean, a Haydnesque
aristocratic entertainment, Debussy wouldn’t have even
been possible, where were their “Moonlight Sonata“s, their
Tempest“s, their “Appassionata“s for that matter, their
Hammerklavier“s, these earlier composers, for a weightier,
more abstract, topic, Mozart and Haydn were having courtly,
though ever so inspired, fun, while Beethoven would proclaim,
pronounce, discover and describe, open up to the imagination,
upon these earlier, nevertheless mighty, Classical shoulders,
a whole new, transfigured, world
L’isle joyeuse is not a sonata, it only has one movement,
I would call it a soundscape, were I to define it, Monet,
1840-1926, is written all over it, the same shimmer,
ephemerality, must’ve been the light, not to mention of
course, at his most ethereal, Beethoven



                                                                                                                                      poring among the possibilities the nearby university had to offer – they’re listed in a catalogue they seasonally send around – one on poetry, of course, how to make one out of a painting, stood out, how to make of something visual, a Monet, a Van Gogh, a Renoir, a poem 

ekphrasis, there’s a word for that, I thought

and ate it up

the picture I got to ekphrase, my word for that, was one of a set the teacher sent around of Kobayashis, snapshots, I’d never heard of him, her, either, Milt Kobayashi, all of them intriguing

I quickly snapped one up, letting my instinct instead of my judgment pick it out – I find it’s usually more accurate – in order to keep the ball rolling, not slow things up

a waif in especially blue, the colour also of chairs behind her – like skies in winter, I thought, when the pressure’s up and the light is pale, colours aren’t crisp but muted – making that sort of association, hoping that wouldn’t be unintelligent

rudimentary roses, wine red, spotted here and there her blue skirt, more like patches than ornamental flowers, a black top the colour of her jet black hair was cut low in a U at her neck, she leaned against a wall, itself nondescript, at the right of the picture, her left, far to that side, and in her own black shadow there splashed upon the wall, a fathomless apparently abyss, seemed to find refuge, a respite, like a womb, pushing herself and it nearly right out of the picture

her arms were crossed, but one reached for her shoulder, lightly resting there, covering inadvertently, or not, her chest, and by my inference her soul, her modesty, her bosom, whereupon, like Michelangelo’s God touched Adam, with love, light and understanding, inadvertently again or not, she touched mine

and her black, plaintive eyes were looking right back

                                                                                                                                     there’s next to nothing on the spartan walls, the table is somewhat set, but light reflected off some glasses there, and dishes, is gleaming, like in Dutch still lifes, artfully, and delightfully

“The Last Table” it’s called, though I’m not too sure what that’s about, a waitress calling it a day, a playful reference somehow to da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” maybe 

that’s what I’d have to make into a poem, ekphrase




finding miracles

these earlier “back tracks“, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while

please enjoy


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        November 9, 2006

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  this has been a year of only a clutch of miracles

of course they always abound, but some years, beset by crushing ordeals, miracles seem few and far between, and pale and falter beside the anguish and despair you suffer

 yesterday I marvelled at the colours of the leaves, the reds, the golds, the purples, that still and magnificently clung to the branches of much thinner trees now that they had lost the weight and splendour of their foliage

the sun upon the colours made them quiver, gleam, glimmer

look, I told my walking mate, a painting, and spread my arm across the panoply that contained what I saw

Monet, he replied

indeed, I said, but also Klimt, the gold, the glitter

I could barely listen on for the wonder

and Van Gogh for the branches, I continued, caught up in my world of live Impressionism, crotchety, angular, mad, I described

and there are millions of these leaves, I went on, transported beyond Impressionism into verily awe, not two of them alike, an infinity of numbers

that’s a miracle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     a day earlier a friend had come over to lunch, after which we’d amble on over to the art gallery for an exhibit that was on

a gull sat on the ledge of my window, at my aerie on the twelfth floor

maybe it’s your father, she said

maybe, I replied, but couldn’t then and there make the connection

it stayed long enough for her to mention it again after I’d gone on for some time more, she was facing the window, I was not, I’d returned to our conversation

the gull looked in, on, curious, spirited

but I still saw just a gull

last   evening I remembered that it would’ve been my parents anniversary had my father survived, called my mom, asked her out, we had dinner nearby, the date had slipped me by

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            later still I remembered about the gull, who perhaps had not forgotten




van Gogh – Still Life with Earthenware and Bottles

            Still Life with Earthenware and Bottles, 1885   

                                Vincent van Gogh

several weeks ago I was shown a process on the Internet that allowed me to set most any picture I could bring up from the web as my desktop, rather of course than the usual, generic stuff that is by default peddled, I of course sought out art

should you want to do this, find of course the picture, google it, artist naturally optional, van Gogh, Monet, mostly come up but these two are nearly inexhaustible, very often breathtaking, and will adorn serenely, sublimely, your monitor, turning it into a veritable vase for some time 

you’ll grow from there, in diversity of artists, and aesthetic verve

find the picture, even this one, click once on the right with your mouse, much like Dorothy did her shoes in “The Wizard of Oz”, click again, but on the left this time, on “Set as Background”, like magic

                                                                                                                                                                                                            change your artwork regularly

                                                                                                                                                                                                               this week this van Gogh starts up my gallery, “paintings to ponder”, I’ll call it 

poems also coming up

                                                                                                                                                                                                              hope you’ll enjoy