Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia

July 4, 2020 at 12:31 pm (Music)

Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia came into existence in 1992. It is based in A Coruna, Spain. Since the orchestra’s 2013-2014 season, its conductor has been Dima Slobodeniouk.

Quotation is from the Baltimore Sun

Here is a lovely gift to us from the chorus:

 

This performance of Mozart’s 41st Symphony, the Jupiter, is positively breathtaking. All the joyous affirmation of this work is bodied forth, especially at the very end, Here is exultation unbound!

 

 

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‘And what is so rare as a day in June….’

June 14, 2020 at 1:14 pm (Local interest (Baltimore-Washington), Music, Weather)

Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;

From The Vision of Sir Launfal by James Russell Lowell

This is a happy, even joyous poem, for a decidedly not joyous time. Yet it may  be a worthy consolation.

Yesterday, when I stepped outside to retrieve the paper, I was greeted by a day of almost unearthly beauty: shining sun; cool, still air; intense  blue sky…perfect. And yet, of course, it was very much of this earth, this very earth, which at this moment is so torn by grief and pain.

[O have mercy on us, Great Creator….]

Meanwhile, I attempted to capture the sound of the neighborhood woodpecker plying his trade. You have to strain most awfully to hear him:

Of  course, I have never seen one. I would  be the world’s worst birdwatcher. Neither of the following photos were taken by me. They  are ‘possibles’ for woodpeckers here in the Free State:

Downy woodpecker

 

Red-bellied woodpecker

 

Pileated woodpecker

(At times, these feathered creatures may be heard rat-a-tat-tatting on the house. In those moments, we refer to them as Aluminum-siding peckers, or just Siding peckers. When they choose to engage in this activity when one is trying to nap, they are called Clueless peckers, or possibly Annoying peckers.)

Anyway, one is eternally grateful for clear, dry mornings, rare as they are in these parts. Just a few mornings ago, I was greeted by this, on our west-facing windows:

Has anyone written a poem about humidity? Probably, but I don’t know it. Music has certainly been written about spring and summer:

 

 

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Solace in Beauty

June 1, 2020 at 7:18 pm (Art, Current affairs, Music, Poetry)

I am deeply sorry for the pain being felt by many people right now in this country.

I fear that the beauty of this first day of June little avails aching hearts. So I would like to offer some words, sounds, and images of  beauty, as possible solace.

Willem Kalf (1619-1693), Pronk Still Life with Holbein Bowl, Nautilus Cup, Glass Goblet and Fruit Dish

About the chambered nautilus, Wikipedia tells us this:

Nautilus shells were popular items in the Renaissance cabinet of curiosities and were often mounted by goldsmiths on a thin stem to make extravagant nautilus shell cups, such as the Burghley Nef, mainly intended as decorations rather than for use. Small natural history collections were common in mid-19th-century Victorian homes, and chambered nautilus shells were popular decorations.

Here is a cutaway view showing the configuration of the shell’s chambers:

In his eponymous poem, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrests a deeper meaning from this curious artifact:

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
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Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
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Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
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Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—
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Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
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To return to Wikipedia, the above entry led me in turn to an entry on goldsmiths. On that page, I found this image, which greatly appealed:
Entitled The Bagdadi Goldsmith, it is a creation of Kamal-ol-molk, This  artist was from Iran; he lived from 1848 to 1940.
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This encounter brought to mind a haunting work by the great Russian composer Alexander Borodin. It is called In the Steppes of Central Asia. (The quality of this video is not great, but the visuals are arresting and the music…well, just listen:
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Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony, final movement

May 10, 2020 at 9:15 pm (Music)

I was working on something else when I came upon this. By the time it was over, I was in tears, and not fit for much else, for a while.

Thank you, Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony musicians, for this rare and precious gift.

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‘If you’re lookin’ for a miracle open your eyes; There was one this morning just about sunrise…’

May 2, 2020 at 10:51 pm (Current affairs, Music)

We’ve had day after day of wet, sunless, raw weather – suitable to the current mood of the world, I guess you could say. And then, this morning, this:

 

And this beauty, everyday yet extraordinary, unfolding against a  clear blue sky:

The title of this post comes from the lyrics to “This Island Earth.” Sung bt the Nylons, this has long been one of my YouTube favorites:

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Music, to bring beauty and solace into your day

April 11, 2020 at 6:47 pm (Music)

The “Romanza,” (third movement) from Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony

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The Adagietto, from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony:

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Requiem, by Gabriel Faure:

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony No.41, “Jupiter”:

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Good Friday Music from Parsifal, by Richard Wagner:

 

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Music, for lifting the spirit

March 26, 2020 at 7:09 pm (Music)

Two sisters sing the Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach:

This has long been one of my favorite YouTube videos. In case you’re wondering, this entire opera is filled with gorgeous melodies. The Barcarolle may be the most beautiful; it is the most famous, at any rate.
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The Pie Jesu from Gabriel Faure’s Requiem. This is one of the most consoling, transcendent musical works that I know. The beloved Pie Jesu  is sung here by the Norwegian boy soprano Aksel Rykkvin. (Due to the fact that time marches on, Aksel is currently performing as a baritone.)


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This was a real find: Avinu Malkeinu, performed by the cantors of the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City:

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Peregrinations and ruminations, for sustenance in tough times

March 19, 2020 at 3:01 pm (Art, Music, Nature)

Two days ago, a walk around the neighborhood was most salutary. While I didn’t take these pictures, I did see these flowers!

Narcissi

 

Vinca

 

Crocuses

 

Daffodils

 

Forsythia

But then you go inside and the same grim news awaits you… Or, rather, more and different grim news. But no, mustn’t dwell on it. Instead, be grateful for what we still have to sustain us:

Great books, like this one:

I just finished it, and I loved it. Patrice “Pixie” Paranteau is a character I will cherish going forward. It’s been a long time since I fell so completely in love with a character in a novel as I did this time.

I continue to enjoy the Darko Dawson series by Kwei Quartey. Dark is a many-sided, fully three dimensional creation. I cherish him also, as well as his world in Ghana.

Kwei Quartey and Louise Erdrich have both created worlds for me to lose myself in. Much needed at this time. I am deeply grateful to both these gifted authors.
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I am always finding new paintings that amaze me. I mean, look at this!

Scenes from the Passion of Christ by Hana Memling, ca1470

My post of March 12 featured this work by Annibale Carracci:

 

Boy Drinking – a show piece for Carracci’s technical expertise –  resided at the Christ Church Picture Gallery at Oxford University until approximately 11 PM on Monday, March 16. That is  the estimated time at which it was stolen, along with two other priceless paintings, one by Salvator Rosa and another by Van Dyck. Click here  for more on this theft.

Let’s hope for a speedy recovery of these priceless works of art.

As if the world doesn’t have enough to worry about right now, I know…

Finally, there is always music, as with this gorgeous Stabat Mater by Domenico Scarlatti, whose sonatas I recall playing on the piano many years ago. (The visual, this achingly poignant Pieta, is by, once again, Annibale Carracci.)

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Further works of beauty, for Christmas

December 25, 2019 at 1:54 pm (Art, Christmas, Music)

Little Garden of Paradise, Upper Rhenish Master

Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor, Jan Van Eyck

Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Gerard David

Virgin and Child, Stefan Lochner

Madonna of the Goldfinch, Raphaello Sanzio (Raphael)

Virgin of the Rocks,  Leonardo da Vinci

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Musical Interlude – and a Poetical Sentiment – at Christmas Time

December 22, 2019 at 2:23 pm (Christmas, Music)

A commenter issues a warning:

‘Monsieur le directeur: faites attention à votre pied.’

Another, in English, says much the same but adds: ‘History repeats itself.’ What history?

Well, it seems that Jean Baptiste Lully, composer of this irresistible ditty, was conducting in the same manner as Monsieur le directeur above, when he inadvertently stabbed himself in the foot with the long staff he was using. The wound became gangrenous. Lully refused to have the infected limb amputated and the infection spread, ultimately causing his death in 1687 at the age of 54.

Here’s an enthusiastic (if tongue-in-cheek) comment on this film clip:

‘Nice to see remaining film footage of this important historical event!’

And it is in point of fact an historical event. For a description of what actually occurred, read Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment, by James R. Gaines. Oh, and the piece being played was composed by Frederick himself, an accomplished musician.

Here are three more beautiful works in honor of Christmas:

 

 

 

Christmas
by John Betjeman
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

 

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