Saturday, June 27, 2015

Two Arias, Elegy, Fantasy & Fugue: Playlist for June 19, 2015

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM


 

Aria

 

By  David Barber  

 

 

What if   it were possible to vanquish

 

All this shame with a wash of   varnish

 

Instead of wishing the stain would vanish?

 

 

What if   you gave it a glossy finish?

 

What if   there were a way to burnish

 

All this foolishness, all the anguish?

 

 

What if   you gave yourself   leave to ravish

 

All these ravages with famished relish?

 

What if   this were your way to flourish?

 

 

What if   the self   you love to punish —

 

Knavish, peevish, wolfish, sheepish —

 

Were all slicked up in something lavish?

 

 

Why so squeamish? Why make a fetish

 

Out of everything you must relinquish?

 

Why not embellish what you can’t abolish?

 

 

What would be left if   you couldn’t brandish

 

All the slavishness you’ve failed to banish?

 

What would you be without this gibberish?

 

 

What if   the true worth of the varnish

 

Were to replenish your resolve to vanquish

 

Every vain wish before you vanish?



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Juliet's Waltz (from "Romeo et Juliette") by Charles Gounod


 

 

 

 

Elegy

By  Anne Stevenson  

 

 

Whenever my father was left with nothing to do —

 

      waiting for someone to 'get ready',

 

or facing the gap between graduate seminars

 

      and dull after-suppers in his study

 

grading papers or writing a review —

 

      he played the piano.

 

 

I think of him packing his lifespan

 

      carefully, like a good leather briefcase,

 

each irritating chore wrapped in floating passages

 

      for the left hand and right hand

 

by Chopin or difficult Schumann;

 

      nothing inside it ever rattled loose.

 

 

Not rationalism, though you could cut your tongue

 

      on the blade of his reasonable logic.

 

Only at the piano did he become

 

      the bowed, reverent, wholly absorbed Romantic.

 

The theme of his heroic, unfinished piano sonata

 

      could have been Brahms.

 

 

Boredom, or what he disapproved of as

 

      'sitting around with your mouth open'

 

oddly pursued him. He had small stamina.

 

      Whenever he succumbed to bouts of winter bronchitis,

 

the house sank a little into its snowed-up garden,

 

      missing its musical swim-bladder.

 

 

None of this suggests how natural he was.

 

      For years I thought fathers played the piano

 

just as dogs barked and babies grew.

 

      We children ran in and out of the house,

 

taking for granted that the 'Trout' or E flat Major Impromptu

 

      would be rippling around us.

 

 

For him, I think, playing was solo flying, a bliss

 

      of removal, of being alone.

 

Not happily always; never an escape,

 

      for he was affectionate, and the household hum

 

he pretended to find trivial or ridiculous

 

      daily sustained him.

 

 

When he talked about music, it was never

 

      of the lachrimae rerum

 

that trembled from his drawn-out phrasing

 

      as raindrops phrase themselves along a wire;

 

no, he defended movable doh or explained the amazing

 

      physics of the octave.

 

 

We'd come in from school and find him

 

      cross-legged on the jungle of the floor,

 

guts from one of his Steinways strewn about him.

 

      He always got the pieces back in place.

 

I remember the yellow covers of Schirmer's Editions

 

      and the bound Peters Editions in the bookcase.

 

 

When he defected to the cello in later years

 

      Grandmother, in excrucio, mildly exclaimed,

 

'Wasn't it lovely when Steve liked to play the piano.'

 

      Now I'm the grandmother listening to Steve at the piano.

 

Lightly, in strains from Brahms-Haydn variations,

 

      his audible image returns to my humming ears.



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Intermezzo in C , by Johannes Brahms


 

 
 

                                                The Matrix

                                                By Amy Lowell

 

Goaded and harassed in the factory

That tears our life up into bits of days

Ticked off upon a clock which never stays,

Shredding our portion of Eternity,

We break away at last, and steal the key

Which hides a world empty of hours; ways

Of space unroll, and Heaven overlays

The leafy, sun-lit earth of Fantasy.


Beyond the ilex shadow glares the sun,

Scorching against the blue flame of the sky.


Brown lily-pads lie heavy and supine

Within a granite basin, under one

The bronze-gold glimmer of a carp; and I

Reach out my hand and pluck a nectarine.



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Nocturne for Harp, by Alan Hovhaness



 

 

 
 



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor by J.S. Bach

 

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Ubi caritas, by Maurice Durufle



 

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