So much has passed through my mind this morning
That I can give you but a dim account of it
—John Ashbery, The Skaters
These lines from John Ashbery’s The Skaters are among my favorites, for good reason. I keep thinking to write about something among my several ongoing projects, when next I know, I’m on to something else. So, I’m afraid, this is a bit of a miscellany, likely of no interest to anyone but me, but an attempt, at least, to record some of the “dim account” before even that is lost.
Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall
I bought a one-month ticket (19.90EU/~$21.50) to the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall. (There are also 7-day tickets for 9.90EU.) The performances and camera work are top drawer, and the interface works brilliantly without the buffering that plagues so many of my attempts to stream on the “big screen.” (If you think I know what I’m talking about, let me disabuse you, but at least I’ve got enough figured out to do this.) What a pleasure it is, particularly when live concerts aren’t within reach, to be able to bring concerts of this caliber into one’s own living room.
What prompted this, and my first priority, was to watch the 2013 premiere of Hans Abrahamsen’s Grawemeyer Award-winning “let me tell you,” with the spectacular soprano (also a conductor) Barbara Hannigan, for whom the piece was written. With a ticket, you can listen to it here, and the DCH offers a discussion with Hannigan, Abrahamsen, and Paul Griffiths, the librettist, for free at the same link.
In addition to the Abrahamsen piece, I’ve so far watched the Peter Sellars’ semi-stagings of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Bach’s St. John Passion. The St. Matthew Passion is yet to come, along with a loooong list of other concerts flagged to take in at some point. All can be watched, with a ticket, at the indicated links, and you can listen to Sellars talk about the Debussy at this link for free. The vast archive is free for viewing here.
Ashbery Online Discussion Group
The lovely, gracious, smart, and generous Mandana is curating for a second year, on the ModPo site, discussions on a smartly-chosen selection of Ashbery poems. If you enrolled in ModPo 2015 and are interested in Ashbery or think you might be, I commend it highly. The discussions are lively and wide-ranging, to say the least.
GCAS continues on with exhilarating explorations of music. (My CD collection has expanded exponentially as a result.) Last month, the topic was “Composers & Painters.” This month, Bert Carter is guest curating while our helmsman, Brian Long, is on the road. The listening selections are drawn from early French theater and chamber music as the starting point, and we are likely to have a look at uses of French forms in later works, as well.
Preparatory to spending quality time this spring with the Henry IV, I’m reading the relevant Arden Shakespeare editions and also reading up on the “back-story” of kings (and the occasional queen). Now, mind you, kings and queens are not my normal stomping ground. I was, after all, there way back then as controversy raged on college campuses over “top down” vs. “bottom up” history. Our hero was of course Howard Zinn, and, in keeping, our “bottom up” food consisted of baloney (double entendre intended) sandwiches with mayo on Wonder Bread.
I’m grateful to galleries like the 12 Star Gallery, artists, and art museums with an online presence for keeping me in the visual art loop until my next chance to get to galleries and museums in New York. I want particularly to note Sarah Faragher, who has embarked on a series of “Paintings I Love” posts on Facebook, and Rebecca Allen, a terrific artist who has also flagged a host of paintings by other artists, both of which give visual pleasure every day.
So, here’s the thing: if you don’t “see” me in blog land for a while, this is why.
My friend devises the cabbage horoscope
that points daily to sufficiency. . . .
That, at least, is my hope.
—John Ashbery, Musica Reservata
The text for, and a bit of back story about, Ja Nus Hon Pris is here. The text for let me tell you is here (see the first pages of score). As to the latter, I was underwhelmed by the text on its own. Turns out, however, that the words are those Shakespeare gave to Ophelia, so what looks bland on the surface roils with subterranean meaning waiting to be tapped. Abrahamsen and Hannigan do so with complete mastery.
Ja Nus Hon Pris, attributed to Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199) (2 versions)
Sumer is icumen in, attributed to W. de Wycombe (late 13th C) (3 versions)
Francesco Bartolomeo Conti (1681 – 1732), ‘Quando veggo un’usignolo’
Jean-Philippe Rameau, Selections from Pièces de Clavessin (1724), Suite in D major (Grigory Sokolov, pianist)
Henri Dutilleux, timbres, espace, mouvement (1978)
Hans Abrahamsen, let me tell you (2013)
Conti (1681 – 1732), ‘Quando veggo un’usignolo’
Rameau, Les Tendres Plaintes, from the Suite in D Major (Grigory Sokolov, pianist)
Dutilleux, timbres, espace, mouvement (1st mvmt)
Abrahamsen, let me tell you (excerpt) (Berlin Phil/Hannigan)
Credits: The source for the image at the head of the post may be found here. The source for each quotation in the text may be found at the indicated link.