Saturday, June 27, 2015

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





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






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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