Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Sometimes the back side of eyes open.
Lids of memory lifting for a moment.
Long enough to glance at tableaux
in full swing of happening long ago.

A luminescence there from eyes?
Or from the glow of intenser time?

A father is filling up a radiant space
with his lion-certain love and strength.

He is now dead.

A mother is moving in a biblical grace
of psalm lived out through her caring.

She is now dead.

Sometimes the back side of eyes open,
but only for an instant of remembering.

Then they slam shut before they go blind.

a capricious and delightful score

"November Woods"

Hamelin plays Medtner

In the Mists

Some beautiful pianism by Rudolf Firkušný, projecting the unusual moods of this Janáček composition.


...I will walk to the little bridge that spans the cotton field drainage ditch. Both banks are overgrown with small trees and gnarly stuff. The water averages about three feet in depth. This slow stream averages about 25 feet in width.

When I stand on the bridge and peer down, there is a creature standing in the shallows. A long-beaked, long-legged, loony-looking thing. It's like he's waiting there for me to look down at him. So he can take off in pterodactyl flight, straight down the waterway and just barely above the surface. And there is something forlorn and forsaken about this wingéd, feathered beast.

Prokofiev -- Violin sonata No 1. Part III

Galina Vishnevskaya

Galina Vishnevskaya -- oh, my goodness gracious. Her voice! I'm fond of several lyric sopranos, but this voice! It is rock-solid. I've never heard anything like this before in a singer. Her expressive intrepidity. And how she inhabits this Russian stuff! -- Mussorgsky's "Songs and Dances of Death" seems to be part of her spiritual DNA here.

If you click on the "Show More" thing, a drop-down section contains the Russian lyrics, with English translation following.

Paul Lewis -- Schubert's Piano Sonata D. 959

As far as I'm concerned, this performance by Paul Lewis is perfect. Technically and poetically. This sonata is beyond the beyond.

Lazar Berman -- Liszt's Piano Sonata

Well...color me amazed. I couldn't find Paul Lewis's great recording on Youtube (which is one of the best, owing to his long-arched conception bringing coherence to the musical semantics). But I spotted this by Lazar Berman. I'd never heard it. I was curious. It has a different feel than the Lewis one, and it made my hair jump up and my eyeballs spin. He takes CHARGE of this sonata! And his playing reminds me a little of Richter, in the way measures are isolated for intensest retrieval of musical possibility. That is a different approach than Lewis's more holistic traversal.

Valentin Silvestrov -- Symphony No. 5

I really, really like to get myself lost inside Silvestrov's music. I "go" to places that have no location, yet are teeming with surreal and vital significance. There is an austere beauty here......

Claudio Arrau -- Schubert's Piano Sonata D. 960

SCHUMANN - Symphony No.1 "SPRING"

Mieczyslav Weinberg -- Violin Sonata

Cziffra -- artistry on an exalted level

"Mourned by the Wind"

Schubert's FANTASY (part 3)

I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it. I finally found a performance of Schubert's FANTASY that is acceptable to me. The violin part for this piece is so difficult that almost all violinists sound like they are sawing across the splintered nerves of a wounded weasel.

Repin is beyond belief. How does he do it? This isn't possible! The amber-hued timbre he conjures is thoroughly solid. And Lugansky plays the piano part here like it should be played -- as a fully equal partner.

And beginning at 1:23 -- that noble, stirring section! It is done superbly.

The Needle's Eye from Kris Saknussemm's REVEREND AMERICA

Ernst Krenek -- Sonata for Harp

Gilels -- Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata -- Part 3

After listening to this, I got to thinking about other Gilels things I have on CD. I got to thinking about Emil Gilels. Musicality on this level is astounding. What is it with the Russians? Note perfect, yes. But it's something else. A kind of sprung flair, a bounded apotheosis, a rhythmic uniqueness, a natural expressiveness that happens in séance with the score. That does not distort the score. But adds life to life. In short, a respectful audacity. It is Gilels and Richter, others. When you hear it, you know it's a Russian master. I don't know what else to say.

Dusan Djukaric -- watercolor artist

Dusan Djukaric -- watercolor artist

Discovering the watercolors of Dusan Djukaric has been a kind of "homecoming" for me. How else to put it, when I answer, naively, a somehow familiar beckoning from these painted worlds? The images align with strands of my aesthetic DNA. A timelessness of mood re-calls childhood. The rain and the light create an ontology.

They don't strike me as mere depictions of cityscapes and waterscapes. I detect a poet at work. Into the scenes is painted a complex emotion, and that discharge of sensibility is retrievable by the viewer. For me (am I only projecting?), a subtle melancholy and existential wonder emerge from the forms and colors.

I like these watercolors so very much.

I am going to look at these paintings until I become slowly, deeply, and gently unhinged.

An article about his work

Vítězslava Kaprálová

Kapralova's string quartet (Con brio)

Not only what is obvious here -- the music's exuberant dance and quixotic song -- but what is implicit -- the composer's excellence and volume of consciousness.

Nathan Milstein

His violin playing has meant a lot to me over the years.

The Street of Crocodiles -- Bruno Schulz

The city of Drohobycz -- now in Ukraine, then Poland. That other Drohobycz can still appear. It can emerge from a certain slant of light, or from within an evening's oblique mood. Indistinctly, figures appear inside equivocal time, fantastical being.

The Street of Crocodiles -- Amazon.com

Natalia Osipova at 17, Esmeralda variation

Jacques Brel

Natalia Osipova

I don't know much about ballet. I know I like to watch it. I like to think I have an instinctive knack for recognizing quality when I see, hear, or read it. At least it makes me feel good to think that.

Although I'm ignorant about the technical things an expert would notice, Natalia Osipova strikes me as a phenomenal talent. To me, her dancing seems graceful, dynamic, expressive. Her physical strength is amazing.

The wonder of human presence is implicit for me in her performance of kinetic, gestural art.

I read where she is no longer with the Bolshoi Ballet. She is now with the Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

the art museum

Ascending the Greek drama of very wide steps
that seem granite in western Kansas City.
Eventually facing doors of mood-harming glass.
Inside, complex halls of frames holding paintings.

Others are milling about and appear too real.
Why are they so solid and what are their lives?

Afternoon enjoyment is wounded by the mere attempt.
Octagonal rooms, blithe mocking light, people with gravity.
A cigarette would taste or be good before facing a painting.

Here is something from the Barbizon School.
But the white flecks suggesting wildflowers
in the lazy French countryside of older time
are just too much to look at, and they injure!
Are those flecks rather hints of bone in grasses
of a meadow growing wild in hours of forgetting?

Cracked open light and lavender garden shadows
impress with brushed audacity, and neurotc irises
receive too much of presence and of beauty.

Here is an Edvard Munch, so quiet in dark hues.
An alluring woman stands before an evening lake.
The contours of refined melancholy and volumes
of eccentric expression should please a casual visitor.
But in this viewing, a drama of great hushed crisis --
that young woman smiling a poem breaks into time,
leaving presentiment of a face in the future, a visage
and distant voice become real in later haunted days.

It's time to leave now, drive away in crestfallen colors.

Things have come to pass since those years ago.
Who knew that paintings could be that powerful?
Loved ones have gone to bone, and being is too much.
That liquid woman appeared, in a distance of poems.

Friday, January 27, 2012

passage (for Renée Pennington)

The outside is much too large
for a Mysterium to encompass.
The inside is way too deep
for plunging down to fibers.

Something in-between must suffice.

A little whirlwind gathering into itself
waves of rising melody and becoming
a thing of dark-colored moments.

That will do!

Even he was circumscribed
by time and a cage of fine bones.
Even so, Scriabin made abysses
large enough for hues of dreaming,
deep enough to plunge and rise,
stable enough for a brief transit
to the aural house of old Eros.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I've been thinking about...

...a dream three nights ago.

I was in a place of rooms. Many odd people were coming and going. The milieu was charged with a semi-intellectual or pseudo-artistic resonance. A woman, unusually attired (like a Bulgarian celebrant?), was hithering and thithering in the background, coming in and going out of view. She seemed to be dependent on my intrinsic je ne sais quo to support the structure of her being. Or to rescue her from some fate that was being vaugely spun off-camera, so to speak. Her eyes, during sporadic glances, moved across the outlines of my own nocturnal being. But only glancing from the vaguest background.


some rather dramatic black-haired guy kept coming up to me. He projected the persona of a half-concierge, half-master of ceremony. And he kept speaking a phrase to me in French. Something about them all awaiting my performance of "la musique sur un thème spirituel."

I eventually woke up.

So I've been thinking about that dream. Aspects of it are obviously narcissistic. I mean...a gathering of souls around and for me! Jeez, how uncomfortable. And how impossible it would have been to extract myself, other than by waking up. But I'm more struck by the pervading atmosphere of the thing: it was like some half-lit purgatory, with much unkown significance afoot.

Well...dreams are neat and weird.

An appropriate soundtrack: