Monthly Archives: July 2012
Winter Has Gone
Our days are fraught with toil
and age does naught but gain
and winter’s come to wane
she leaves us barren soil
We etch the years in stone
and plow the frosted dun
and ev’ry rising sun
strips sinew to the bone
But arching to its height
and swiftly does it slide
and softly gone aside
solstice has favoured night
Thus once again it seems
and truly it returns
and sunlight sorely yearns
to spread her long-lost beams
Jean-Claude Casadesus conductor
Francesco Piemontesi piano
BERLIOZ – Marche hongroise from La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24
RAVEL – Piano Concerto in G major
DVOŘÁK – Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 ‘From the New World’
The tried-and-tested cocktail of SSO topped off by a guest conductor seldom fails to disappoint. Friday night’s concert with Casadesus delivered – and dazzled.
The Marche Hongroise foretold the brilliant evening that was to come. The folk tune was woven through the rambuctious rhythms with widely varied dynamics marking the phrases. Apart from the half-second the orchestra took to find its bearings, ensemble was airtight and solos individualistic and impressive.
Ravel Piano Concerto – a piece with which I am hardly acquainted, and which left a delicious impression as interpreted by soloist Francesco Piemontes. After being enchanted by another Italian Pianist, this one was no less mesmerising. Jazz, which tends to lend favour to France and America (and Japan), as interpreted by him, didn’t sound any worse for wear in these sparkling, well phrased hands. Of note was the less-oft-fielded cor anglais, and the very responsive orchestra, who again only had a little hiccup at the awkward-to-assemble beginning.
A charming but un-identifiable (by this author) encore wrapped up his appearance.
Finally, the main course – Dvorak. The most striking thing was the detail, detail, and finally, the individual responsibility which the players took upon themselves to express their own musical ideas. Expressive flute solos (played twice, in the first repeated section, to boot), nonchalant horn calls – only the hurried tempo of the second movement elicited dislike from this author. (Or, in my words, that oboist practiced for years on the Cor Anglais only to be rushed through during the most famous Cor Anglais solo). Large dynamic contrasts, marked (but surprisingly tightly managed) tempo changes, tiny runs and sweeping lines were held to a high standard that the somewhat jerky and comical baton-strokes seemed to belie. The 9th symphony was SSO at its best, and the audience was duly rewarded for their investment of their Friday evening.
A final Hungarian Dance, this time Brahms’, rounded off the exciting evening.
The conductor clasped his hands as though telling children to go to bed, before making his ultimate exeunt left.
The Dark Knight Rises
Basically, I wasn’t expecting an Inception or Memento (which I haven’t watched, to my own chagrin), and generally the movie pleased, in a more or less popcorn manner. Conspiracy theories rapidly sprung up though, from one concerning the American Presidential Elections, to another concerning Catwoman’s choice of family jewels (don’t ask).
Somehow, the thing that stuck out most was the lack of – wait for it – scientific congruency. Sure, suspension of disbelief and whatnot, but the explosive concrete and thermonuclear time-bomb was glaring enough that I personally found them unforgivable. The hollywood healing involved was also a little off the scale.
The fight scenes were visceral, apart from the ridiculous clash between the police and the mob which would never happen in any resemblance in real life. Catwoman was smooth, and probably the most substantial female character between Inception and this film, which still has me wondering if female leads are actually eponymous or just a traditional post to be filled.
All in all, a movie with great pacing and suspenseful scenes, a well played Albert, interesting sociopolitical commentary, a not-so-smart-as-supposed-to-be villian (technically he was, and it was portrayed, but not so much one who was cerebral or brilliant as engineer-precise). The female characters, once again, left me disappointed.
Write her something, you say
Now? When? Maybe tomorrow
might come sooner and I may
once Again forget the imagined sorrow
and fear that I never need have felt.
A beautiful spectre did I create,
hung next to the window on which raindrops pelt
and keep the room cold and desolate.
But while I sleep the water turns to wine –
not light or red or live to be mistaken for blood
In dozen years or two there was not vine as fine
no alcoholic nor beaver would stem such a flood
their Hearts would instead leap with joy at the sight
enraptured, as waking, I turn on the light.
English Sonnet practice. Written in response to Danse Macabre, as part of a bid to write not-completely-devoid-of-concrete-inspiration.
Bow stolen from the soldier’s private stash
Death strung the catgut, pliant, over wood
She turned down one but all that were not ash
Upon her vapid thrusts her army stood
Bells rang out loud and clear across the bog
Which silence broke until the clattering host
Oblivious to the rising, steaming fog
They waltzed – to soloist, they made a toast
To all things two would do but none would say
In life, for life, behind the dark of night
And stand for it until the judgment day
Whilst new moon cloaked lost innocence and blight
Lips spoke nought but Death already would know
From herself did both rot and pleasure grow
Translated original text upon which the musical piece was based on (quoted from Wikipedia):
“An English translation of the poem follows:
Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking a tomb with his heel,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zag, on his violin.
The winter wind blows, and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden trees.
White skeletons pass through the gloom,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking,
You can hear the cracking of the bones of the dancers.
A lustful couple sits on the moss
So as to taste long lost delights.
Zig zig, zig, Death continues
The unending scraping on his instrument.
A veil has fallen! The dancer is naked.
Her partner grasps her amorously.
The lady, it’s said, is a marchioness or baroness
And her green gallant, a poor cartwright.
Horror! Look how she gives herself to him,
Like the rustic was a baron.
Zig, zig, zig. What a saraband!
They all hold hands and dance in circles.
Zig, zig, zag. You can see in the crowd
The king dancing among the peasants.
But hist! All of a sudden, they leave the dance,
They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.
Oh what a beautiful night for the poor world!
Long live death and equality!”
Yep. Saint Saens was mad as well.
P.S. So I found this on youtube. It’s a bit psychedelic at first but I’m sure, dear reader, after a little persuasion you’ll dance along as well.
It literally took on a life of its own. Rhyme scheme turned out to be: abba cddc effe gg
And I awoke – the Earth was made of glass
But right beneath my nose was concrete grey
And for the longest moment did it stay
My sanity which might soon come to pass
My hands turned into birds of paradise
Upon the starry wings of colours hale
At once a mirage and a snowswept gale
On tabletops did they meet their demise
For grounded – nay, we nailed them to the ground
We drove a wooden stake into each heart
While clipping plumage till it was an art
To still the passions cold ere they were found
So wake at day and sleep by night I try
Thus water of life and of hope runs dry
The clock stops
Deafening in silence
The bells chime out but repeat unheeded
Blatant contradiction rings unheard as sustenance runs dry
Craning, oblivious necks promise vistas of burned black-on-white
The lowest point finally arrives yet
The end before the pain subsides and the lights come on.
One man against the World
perhaps side by side we
our time to impress upon
this world comes quick
it accepts us
the way we are
no mother showed greater
and in her silent, sordid,
sinister cradle we wake
and then sleep