Tag Archives: music

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…

Beethoven’s Lessons

On that averagely average, cold and damp Irish spring day I met a woman in her 50s, an artist. She was a sort of a ‘enfant (should write: ‘ personne agee’) terrible’ in our small and – have to admit – still quite narrow-minded environment. Always alone, apparently considered as ‘dangerous’ or (charitably speaking) ‘weird’. I’ve just glanced her vegetarian dish and she shared it with me with ‘I don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer’ attitude (tasted awfully, by the way). Then we struck up a chat and – after an hour or so – I realized that such a liberating conversation I hadn’t have experienced in months. It was like an instant ‘click’ and we met at a higher level, where all the differences/petty worries/judgements simply don’t exist – you talk and you know that you are being understood – in a flash, thanks to a sort of a magical, inner chemistry sparking between two minds, two souls…

She was a great listener and a mentor, yet her soul has been damaged by  a  cruelty of life, the cruelty of people. And it was extremely painful to watch her – sliding on the thin ice, appearing and disappearing like a cube of gold melting in a pot – with all the ridiculous helplessness, you feel facing the mystery of another human being and his/her story never-to-be-disclosed.

So, I remember – she said: “It was Beethoven, who taught me how to be an artist.” I didn’t get her then, yet, now – I’m almost sure, what she meant by that. So – I would like to dedicate this post to her and to Beethoven, though I know it – neither of them will ever read it… Those fallen angels are always like that, lighting up the world with their strange, dark light, yet never asking anything in return – except maybe the absolute surrender to them.

Yes, Beethoven is a powerful teacher, one of the best any artist can get – and, what a privilege! – he is, by his music, always there for you, when you need him. I chose the “Moonlight” as a feature for this post, mainly because I’m completely taken by Rubinstein’s interpretation – the best I heard so far, just so perfect… Yet, one has to listen to Beethoven’s No.9, No. 5, his “Coriolan” Overture – in a fact to the most of his work to hear the giant fighting the Gorgons. You may know nothing of his personal struggles, yet you can sense it – the reality, the life is there to be confronted without fear – this is the message, one of the most universal and brilliant, the art can convey to humanity; the harder your fate tries to overpower you, the stronger you become to fight it back. The charismatic ability to inspire courage in others and to transform their life in one touch; the towering strength of a personality – perfectly integrated, though it’s been challenged continuously by the ill fate and by the composer himself – this is Beethoven’s lesson of ‘how to be an artist’. Yet – don’t read it as an unattainable wishing-list for the super-humans – see this artist’s letters, where the shield of his genius sounds doesn’t protect him – he is certainly the one of bones and blood, of tears and screams, of a doubt and a crisis. Feel the might of his monsters and then listen to what he had done to them. Have that braveness to live without masks and an armour, so intensely – you fear to lose your sanity. Then, lying on your deathbed – you will be able to say without any pretense: “Applaud my friends. The comedy is over”.


Video featured thanks to the courtesy of ehttsinaip from Youtube.

Czeslaw Mozil – just smile a little…

I’ve just come across this artist and I think it’s worth to introduce him to the wider public.

He is charming, free-spirited, playful, original, talented. He was born in Poland, yet brought up in Denmark. He speaks English, Dutch and Polish – all with an adorable accent. He plays to the accordion and piano with a considerable fluency. Here we can see a video made in his pub in Denmark – all the concept, realization, music, text, performance are the creation of Czeslaw (tcheslav) and his friends… One can obviously spot some influences, both Scandinavian and generally – European from different video artists, filmmakers, signers, poets…but I would say – as for a debutant – not too bad at all!

Lyrics are both bizarre and thoughtful – honestly – in moments beyond any translation… It tells an apparently light-hearted, random story about a lady, who found an old, broken little machine (a camera – presumably) and – out of a sentiment and tender love she decided to make it ‘working’ again… At the end, the sweetest of all choir signs:

We will be beautiful like we used to be…/And we will operating proficiently again…

O, yes – we will… Don’t try to understand or ‘explain’ anything – just enjoy and smile a little…

Official video uploaded on Youtube by the artist himself – thank you.

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.

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