Tag Archives: classical

Cohen, Waits, Cave, Schubert and others… Whilt (3)

I’ve noticed that unique, intense and rather strange connection I feel between the music, I used to listen frequently in different periods of my life with the very particular space and time it happened to be played in.

So, then goes Franz Schubert and his “Death and the Maiden” (“Der Tog und das Madchen) from 1824 – the mastery String Quartet in D minor, with its so characteristic, brooding melancholy, lyrically sweet, almost cheerful in moments and powerfully sorrowful at the same time – this musical piece will forever remind me about my first months spent in Ireland. When the first notes come from a record/radio the images come as well in a flow – so vivid and real that I can even feel the smell of the places, hear the voices of those, whom I met and I can see myself sitting on a navy sofa in a place, one wouldn’t count into pleasant ones, listening to this second-hand record I found in a charity shop.

Translating Leon Cohen’s songs I would teach myself English (the same is true with reading Agata Christie’s criminal stories), till now I know many of them by heart and I feel the aura of a little Irish town, West Cork where I spent few years each time “Sisters of Mercy” or “The Famous Blue Raincoat” is being played.

In the same spirit I always think about a little island I used to live on for a year, with its swampy, neglected terrain and its extremities (light there used to be either very bright or very gloomy due to the surrounding waters) when I hear Nick Cave’s bold gothicism. The dark passions and an intense love for life/for another human being (usually beyond the reach) – these always come through the same way I felt them at that time, listening to the songs, the stormy winds howling all nights and rains pouring during those long winter months.

Finally for the repertoire of today, and for my little ‘show off’ – Tom Waits and only him is being played when I take a ride in my 1971 classical Jaguar XJ6 – no other music seems right for this car – Waits’ ‘rotten’, gutsy voice bringing to life his gangsters, crooks and all sorts of freaks imaginable and the moving artwork of English design – they feel like they’ve been made for each other. Whatever will happen to the Jag and whatever will happen to me – I can be pretty sure that, thanks to that magical bond between sounds/words and images cooked in one meal by emotion and preserved by memory (M. Proust would put it better, I guess) in 10, 20 or 40 years time – hearing (…) How do your pistol and your Bible and your Sleeping pills go? Are you still jumping out of windows in expensive clothes? Tell me who are you, who are you this time? (…) I will still distinctly remember that car, places I visit, and the people I met at that particular time in my life.

Well, this is what I have learned today (whilt) – art (here in a form of music) is a mighty ‘shaper’ of the human’s soul, it soaks it like an invisible, eternal rain of images, sensory stimulants and emotions – after some time one is unable to remove or even modify the impact – it stays there, ready only to accept yet another stream. The power of the human memory, the power of what has happened to us… Never to be demeaned or overpriced, it has its own rhythm, art proves to be one of the very capable triggers – equally, if not more intoxinating and unavoidable…


La Divina…

Maria Callas – Casta Diva (from V. Bellini’s Norma)

Casta Diva, che inargenti — O pure Goddess, who silver
queste sacre antiche piante, — These sacred ancient plants,
a noi volgi il bel sembiante — Turn thy beautiful semblance on us
senza nube e senza vel… — Unclouded and unveiled…
Tempra, o Diva, — Temper, o Goddess,
tempra tu de’ cori ardenti — The brave zeal
tempra ancora lo zelo audace,— Of the ardent spirits,
spargi in terra quella pace — Scatter on the earth the peace
che regnar tu fai nel ciel… — Thou make reign in the sky…

Words seem to abandon me each time I listen to this… actually, they happen to be absolutely pitiful… Remember my first time – I was a step from ceasing all my artistic activity (mainly painting) being struck by a bolt of shame – even my wildest dreams couldn’t have reached even the shadow of the level presented and performed by that unearthly creature. An overwhelming wave of an absolute fascination had protected me from the fire of jealously – that it’s the music that divine forces have seemed to choose for their voice, that painting would never ‘sign’ this way…

Today, I’m a little bit more optimistic that one can actually make colours, shapes, portrayed worlds to ‘resonate’ with hauntingly beautiful and close to perfection ‘sounds’. Yet, instead of devouring fine pictures or sculptures I do listen to this (and to other similar classical wonders) at least few times each day – just to experience, again and again the sheer genius of Art par excellence…

In my studio journal I had noted:

‘Have you ever heard Maria Callas signing her Norma’s Casta Diva ? You would know, straight away, what do I mean by feeling the real presence of an authentic piece of Art. It’s like finding yourself in a mighty company of a spine-chilling being – a Goddess, La Divina, whatever name you can think of…’

To create that sort of a presence is an artist’s blasphemous goal, his/hers sweet-sour duty, an undeserved privilege and never-ending journey forward.

P.S. Thank you, ‘flyfra 89’ for uploading this rare treat to Youtube.


Few not-modern notes on humanity…

Quite recently I’ve got an interesting, half-an-hour talk about nothing. It happened to be focused on modern art, modern human condition, place for beauty and ethics within it and, after making a heroic round in escaping its inbuilt vacuum it came to the point of an inception – to a rather corny remark that ‘nonsense’ seems to be a surname of today’s existence. How to make art in the modern chaos and to remain sane? Although Louis Bourgeois wrote in her painting that Art is the warranty of sanity she wrote also I’ve been in Hell and back, and let me tell you – it was wonderful. Going to Hell is the condition of the modern artist, whether s/he comes back and is ready to admit that it was wonderful is a quite another, usually very personal story.

Since my partner in the above-mentioned chat was far from being just an average, junior, intelligent guy who finds ‘fashionable’ to talk post-modern slogans (no matter how out of place they are), we’ve managed to make a way for some deeper observations. Yet everything seemed to slip through our fingers – any sense, any understanding of each other. Why is it so difficult to communicate on a level, where any social game must to disappear in the presence of truth? Why in the age of gutsy exhibitionism, omnipresent ‘display’ of human ‘values’ we are mute and/or extremely amateurish when it comes to formulate, understand and convey basic reflection on our existential condition? I wonder what was that ancient Greek spoke about, or people of 18th century France, or even contemporaries of Hemingway, Kafka, Dostojewski? Have they been taught the art of communicating oneself to others or maybe times they lived in encouraged it in the most natural fashion?

So we talked about beauty which became something terribly old-fashioned, neglected and misunderstood. After Picasso and the modern rest ridiculed classical rules of harmony and pleasure it seems to be quite trendy to make art that disturbs, wipes out smile and joy; art of dark colours, sad faces and deliberately nonchalant in appearance. Even if beauty occurs it’s very often accidental, has nothing in common with beliefs and aspirations of an artist. Majority of work in my college is like that, my own work oscillates between ‘blue’ and darkness of being alive here and now… What a waste of a pair of healthy hands. Why not to aspire to be the next Cezanne or Canova? Why not to aspire to make the happiest, the most beautiful paintings/sculptures ever? Why even these questions sound ridiculously?

It was the eternal beauty of art in Paris that grabbed my mind and heart. Who knows – maybe it’s the right time for a new Renaissanse, for rediscovering once again value and sense in our human condition? That could be even interesting…

Just for the classical taste, few shots of The Louvre’s treasures I took during my trip to Paris:


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