Prokofiev ~ Dance of the Knights
I; a dragon, beast or ghoul,
Prance around and act a fool
As children rush me,
Try to crush me;
Caped with bed-sheets fit for lords,
Armed with sturdy cardboard swords,
They knock me over -
Growling out in mock surprise,
And spin them; one upon each arm,
Til each is giggling in alarm.
link to the music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8Ub3UqCfo4
I once attended for a time a village church 175 years old who, having recently lost their organist of 46 years his hands crippled knotted, hired a lovely young male musician with supple spidery fingers who knew no hymnal music so instead played classical.
It turned out his knowledge of those also limited so he repeated most Sunday mornings. It was such a lovely very old church still standing in a bustling town that had left a century before. I'd sit back in the creaky hand hewn pews, morning light streaming through the most beautiful creeping vines stained glass, transported. Beethoven's 9th souring.
My mind singing along the words....the words?
"This night is mine
It's only you and i
Is a long time away
This night can last forever"
with apologies to Billy Joel
Fidelio, Op. 72a : Act III: Recitative And Duet: Ich Kann Mich Noch Nicht Fassen… (Florestan, Leonore)
This aria is the epitome of joy for me. If my heart needs a lift, if I need to be reminded that good things happen, if I want the exquisite beauty of music which reflects love, then I'll go to this piece from Beethoven's opera Fidelio. I remember the first time I heard it vividly. I was a teenager, and the classics were always a part of our lives. There was either a radio program or a record playing most days with glorious full orchestra music, or better yet, an opera of one sort of another.
When the house went silent, one of us would go to flip the record. If it happened to be the Saturday afternoon CBC program from the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, we would gather in the living room to listen, stopping for snacks as the intermissions occurred. This was a live performance sponsored by Texaco, and oil company which has long since gone the way of the dodo bird.
Today, I listen on a noise cancelling headset so I don't annoy my roommate. But the days when he's out at work, my stereo system fills the apartment and you can find me with tears running down my cheeks. The music hits me in my heart, reminding me of my own true love. He's gone now, and the last years were dark, but this piece brings back the good years and the intense need to reconnect each day. If he were missing and we reunited after a long search, then this music is exactly right for what I would feel.
PS: I often use Beethoven's Triple Concerto for Cello, Violin and Piano as background music to write to. Find it here:
Adaptation and why
Well , last few weeks, i've been listening to a guy called
Vyacheslav Gryaznov . he has a youtube channel. He does pretty remarkable adaptations of orchestral work to piano solo. With great technique he manages to condense the whole , highly complicated pieces, to just 10 fingers. Usually i am not that impressed by this, and it isn't that new of an idea. Franz liszt, for example prepared piano solo arrangments for all nine of beethovens symphony. The idea of taking the massive orchestral work and reducing it so, goes against the will of the composer. Certainly, they worked in front of a piano drafting their work, but aimed at a maximum of polyphony. This was their vision.
However, im starting to think that the purpose of creation, is to perpetuate something of the way someone thinks. The Beethovenness in Beethoven's Pastoral (no.6) is ageless. It goes past immidiate trends. But will it be remembered because of the particular choices he made regarding orchastration, or because it was something deeper?
If it is so. I think that listening to such adaptations AFTER you heard the original can help accentuate what that deeper impression really was. Gryaznov , as i said did a few such adaptation projects. I was most impressed by his work on Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet, and Stravinsky's Rite of spring.
I recommend listening to an orchestral production first a few times. Just to 'hear' it all better.
Fantasia by Schubert
Even before I knew the story behind this duet, I had a nagging feeling that it was about unrequited love. It was quite a funny coincidence. Fate had drawn me towards the piece when I wasn't at ease with who I was. I always sought validation and love from others because I couldn't bring myself to love who I was. As a result, I romanticized numerous people to no avail. This led to late nights of pained pondering.
I was fatigued from the self deprecating spiral. Instead of entertaining the meticulous critic within me, I started scrolling through the internet and killed time by watching numerous scores of musical pieces. By a stroke of serendipitous impulse, I found myself immersed in a hauntingly beautiful piano performance.
The fantasia had a tendency to somberly meander around before an unexpected pang of sheer anguish emerged from nowhere. Afterwards, it would mellow down sadly and continue wandering around. Slowly but surely it built up momentum and a raw flurry of immense emotion would rip through the ivory keys. Despite all of that, traces of nostalgic happiness would ebb and fade every now and then. The keys hammered the instrument's strings incessantly. In a similar vein, this piece tugged at my heartstrings and pierced through my chest.
Although this piece was a fantasy and had no formal structure, there was no way it was written on a whim. Insatiable curiosity led me to learn more about the piece.
Schubert had dedicated the duet to his unrequited love. The woman he pined after was engaged to another man but he still lacked closure. Since she was his piano student, he decided to play the duet by her side. There were many intentional hand crossings that gave the two star crossed lovers an opportunity to brush past each other's hands.
I can't express the extent of appreciation and awe I have for this piece. My words could do its bittersweet beauty no justice. I have not gone through the experiences that Schubert had when he wrote this piece. However, I can feel the hollow ache that this music conveys.
Winter by Vivaldi
I love most of Vivaldi's work, but Winter really stands out to me. Ironically, winter is my least favorite season to live in, there is something special about this piece that has made me listen to it over and over again. It has never evoked and significant emotion from me, but imagery that the music provides me is so clear that the notes could be words. The sun shines down on a snow covered village, illuminated by high noon. Birds are flitting about in an icy breeze as it rustles through the bell tower of a church and down into the streets below. On the whitened streets, bundled up villages are going about their lives, some laughing, some fighting and others alone. As noon passes and the sun begins to wane, silhouettes of leafless trees are stark against the blustering winter sky, and the air becomes still and frigid.
I'm absolutely obsessed with Lata Mangeshkar and her songs although one of the most beautiful songs she has sung uptil now, in my opinion, is Aap ki Nazron ne Samjha. It is a classic, romantic song and gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. The only thing this song makes me think of is deep pink roses because just like their intoxicating scent, this song will never lose its influence or its value. It is evergreen.
“85” Andy Grammer (Link below)
"I don't wanna be 85 singing, oh no I think I missed it I was chasing money."
This song is all about money and all it's worth. I picture this song with me doing things. Volunteer events, dancing, laughing, playing, teaching, caring, and all sorts of things. "Can't take it with ya, like they gonna miss ya, so wipe off that window, see the bigger picture."
“Simple Song 3” from the film “Youth”
I’ve always loved operatic music. I think because in my own life I feel the swells of my own emotion become too big for my body, and what do you do with excess emotion? Youth either let it bottle up until it explodes or find a way to release it.
This song is very straightforward in its’ lyrics and the title is so perfect, because that is what this song is a “Simple Song”. The opera singer’s name is Sumi Jo and she is just so amazing in her performance of this song.
When I hear this song the pictures ebb and flow between memories in my own life that seemed to crescendo into chaos, beauty, pain or any extreme emotion. Or it usually brings to mind a fantasy of what I hope finding love will be like.
It seems like it is rocky, tumultuous in the beginning of the song but the bridge in the middle creates this calm tone that draws you in, like the beginning of a love affair: it can either find its foundation to make that “steady long lasting love” or it peters out and is laid to rest from its rocky beginning.
I am a day dreamer, so my mind wanders this route or to scenes where I picture brilliant sunsets. I hope you enjoy this beautiful song should you choose to listen. I suppose it’s a more modern day piece of classical music, but beautiful nevertheless in my humble opinion.
Link to the song- it is also contains the end scene of the film "Youth".
Chopin - Nocturne Op.9 No2
I have always loved Chopin's pieces, even as a young child. Perhaps, it was due to the influence of my mother, who also loved his music. Nonetheless, to this day, and after ten years of piano lessons when I was younger, I can easily discern the enduring and haunting beauty of his music at any given moment. The Nocturne Op.9 No 2 is recognizably as haunting in its seeming fragility as Chopin himself must have been in his ill-fated state of health near the end of life. There is something so lingeringly beautiful in this piece that it always fills my eyes with the sheen of tears and creates a depth of feeling in my chest that I cannot fully express nor understand. From the scope and breath of its majestic composition, I can only surmise that Chopin was a romantic at heart, and yet, I feel that it must be true that this piece also reflects a failure to achieve love's ultimate fulfillment. It is an oxymoron: haunting, reflective, strangely sad, and yet so beautiful in all its glory. When I was younger, before my hands became less agile, I would sit and play this piece repeatedly, never growing weary of its distinguishable difference in the realm of enduring classical music. And to this day, I can listen to it repeatedly in much the same way. The Nocturne is eternal, just as the depth and beauty of Chopin's compositions have endured. I shall never, ever tire of its simplistic, haunting beauty.