Monday, August 30, 2010

A Last Hurrah

Welcome back Dear Readers,

Dear Friends.

Here in the Washington D.C. area

I've noticed that a few leaves have begun to turn

that with the cooling overnight temperatures

the volume of my beloved,

mesmerizing cicadas

has diminished. 

It seems that Summer 

is coming to an end.

Could this be the perfect time

for one 

 Last Hurrah?

Many years ago,

when I was a student in Copenhagen,

I studied

Danish Art History.

It was there that I learned about 

the artists' haven 


Here's how the Art Directory described 
The Skagen School.

Skagen Painters

"Skagen is the name of a small fishing village in Denmark. Toward the end of the 19th century, several artists, the Skagen painters, made up a group of "plein air" painters who observed nature realistically, based on the model of the Barbizon school. Thematically, the artists adapted to the local occurrences of Skagen, which were also very well suited to outdoor painting. At Skagen, the North Sea meets the Baltic, so the Skagen painters worked accordingly with the play of the waves, which break against each other there, as well as with the light reflections on the water. In the same way, they observed the people at work or children playing on the beach. In particular, the bright Nordic light fascinated the painters and constitutes the particular charm of their paintings. As later Impressionists, they colored their shadows, and they also implemented complementary contrasts in order to intensify the luminosity of the colors. However, the Skagen painters did not only represent outdoor scenes in their work; interior settings are also permeated with light, which dominates these scenes as well.
The Skagen painters met regularly in a hotel that belonged to the father of one of the group members, Anna Ancher, in order to exchange ideas. Here they also established their own museum, the Skagen Museum.
The Skagen painters were: Michael and Anna Ancher, Viggo Johansen, P.S Krøyer, Marie Krøyer, Christian Krohg, Karl Locher, Karl Madsen, Lauritz Tuxen."

I've wanted to visit Skagen ever since I learned about it.

So this week is the time!

Drive around 300 miles from Copenhagen

and you can watch

The North Sea

crashing into

The Baltic.

The sunsets

are supposed to be spectacular

as well.

For this

Last Hurrah,

I'd stroll and bike the beaches.

I'd visit

The Skagen Museum.

I would bask in the surf & the fresh sea air.

I might even revel in the fruits of the sea.

How does dinner at

Skagen Fiskerestaurant


Cremant de Bourgogne Rose

Dune-Smoked Salmon
with horseradish cream and pickled shallots
accompanied by herb salad

Grilled Turbot
with flambeed Norwegian Lobster,
tomato concasse and new potatoes

Chocolate Fondant
with Blackcurrent Sorbet and Coulis

Piston Coffee

Just thinking about all of this,

I am intoxicated

by the sea air.

And I am hoping that you will

join me on


Last Hurrah.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Old Friends, New Friends - Come Down In Time

The other day a friend asked me

what my favorite rock tune was

from long ago. 

After telling her that that was impossible to answer

since I love so many different tunes,

Come Down In Time

did come to mind.

Such a stunning tune from 

the then young Elton John.

I love Skaila Kanga's harp playing.

Karl Jenkins' oboe.

And there's beautiful acoustic bass playing by Chris Laurence,

as well as sweeping strings.

Tumbleweed Connection,

John's third recording,

is very, very good. 

If you've never heard it you must!

If it's been a while, 

take the time to revisit this gem. 

"In the quiet silent seconds I turned off the light switch
And I came down to meet you in the half light the moon left
While a cluster of night jars sang some songs out of tune
A mantle of bright light shone down from a room

Come down in time I still hear her say
So clear in my ear like it was today
Come down in time was the message she gave
Come down in time and I'll meet you half way

Well I don't know if I should have heard her as yet
But a true love like hers is a hard love to get
And I've walked most all the way and I ain't heard her call
And I'm getting to thinking if she's coming at all

Come down in time I still hear her say
So clear in my ear like it was today
Come down in time was the message she gave
Come down in time and I'll meet you half way

There are women and women and some hold you tight
While some leave you counting the stars in the night."

Do you have any favorite tunes from the past?

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Charles' Part II.

Welcome back Dear Readers,

Dear Friends.


Tale of Two Charles' Part II.

starts a long time ago in Paris.

On August 7th 1934

a 67 year old composer 

attended the cinema. 

It was there that he first 

caught a glimpse of 

the very lovely actress

Lilian Harvey.

Charles Koechlin,

enamored of cinema and many of its' stars

had sought refuge from some of life's difficulties

in these

"unreal worlds".

Who knows

what he might have felt

seeing this beautiful, young actress

for the first time?

Was he in love?

Merely smitten?

We do know that Koechlin

went to see Harvey in that film again the same night.

Following the film,

he wrote the music of

Tout va bien.

"not without covering the paper with tears"

he later confessed.

Later he added another song

Keep that schoolgirl complexion

which was a pastiche of a Palmolive soap advertisement.

These two songs formed the basis of a cycle he called

L'Album de Lilian.

Koechlin had studied with Massenet

and with Faure who had a particularly strong influence

on him.

His music is as beautiful as Atget's Paris,

as lovely as Lilian.

L'Album de Lilian 

is written primarily for piano, voice, and flute,

with parts for the exotic Ondes Martenot

and Clavecin.

I believe that this was my first introduction to Koechlin's works.

A very good place for anyone to start.

Koechlin wrote piano music.

I've enjoyed his L'Ancienne Maison de Campagne,
Quatre Nouvelles Sonatines, Paysages et Marines, 
Les Heures Persanes.

His music for flute, including a version of L'Album de Lilian, is also quite nice.

He wrote songs, for the oboe, quartets, and symphonic works as well.

Koechlin's music is often dreamy but with a dash of chromatic


That is to say... he throws in a thorn or two now and again.

Like Charles Tomlinson Griffes

who interpreted

The White Peacock,

Koechlin wrote a symphonic interpretation

of The Jungle Book.

And as further evidence of his obsession with Hollywood,

Koechlin wrote

The Seven Stars Symphony

with parts for

Douglas Fairbanks

Lilian Harvey


Clara Bow

Marlene Dietrich

Emil Jannings

and the great
Charlie Chaplin.

I have loved the music of

Charles Tomlinson Griffes


Charles Koechlin,


Two Charles',

for many years.

There is much to love.

And I hope that you too will take the time explore their

varied and colorful works.

You'll be glad you did. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Well You Needn't" - A Tale of Two Charles' Part I

   From “Sospiri Di Roma.”

III. The White Peacock
William Sharp (1855–1905)

HERE where the sunlight
Floodeth the garden,
Where the pomegranate
Reareth its glory
Of gorgeous blossom;        5
Where the oleanders
Dream through the noontides;
And, like surf o’ the sea
Round cliffs of basalt,
The thick magnolias        10
In billowy masses
Front the sombre green of the ilexes:
Here where the heat lies
Pale blue in the hollows,
Where blue are the shadows        15
On the fronds of the cactus,
Where pale blue the gleaming
Of fir and cypress,
With the cones upon them
Amber or glowing        20
With virgin gold:
Here where the honey-flower
Makes the heat fragrant,
As though from the gardens
Of Gulistân,        25
Where the bulbul singeth
Though a mist of roses,
A breath were borne:
Here where the dream-flowers,
The cream-white poppies        30
Silently waver,
And where the Scirocco,
Faint in the hollows,
Foldeth his soft white wings in the sunlight,
And lieth sleeping        35
Deep in the heart of
A sea of white violets:
Here, as the breath, as the soul of this beauty
Moveth in silence, and dreamlike, and slowly,
White as a snow-drift in mountain valleys        40
When softly upon it the gold light lingers:
White as the foam o’ the sea that is driven
O’er billows of azure agleam with sun-yellow:
Cream-white and soft as the breasts of a girl,
Moves the White Peacock, as though through the noon-tide        45
A dream of the moonlight were real for a moment.
Dim on the beautiful fan that he spreadeth,
Foldeth and spreadeth abroad in the sunlight,
Dim on the cream-white are blue adumbrations,
Shadows so pale in their delicate blueness        50
That visions they seem as of vanishing violets,
The fragrant white violets veinéd with azure,
Pale, pale as the breath of blue smoke in far woodlands.
Here, as the breath, as the soul of this beauty,
White as a cloud through the heats of the noontide        55
Moves the White Peacock.

If you've ever wondered what a poem 

as beautiful as 

The White Peacock 

might sound like,

you're in luck. 

One of my favorite composers, 

a composer whose works we do not hear

 enough of, 

set this stunning piece to music 

in 1915.

Charles Tomlinson Griffes'

works make me think of a dreamy 

American Impressionism. 

His settings of William Sharp's

The Roman Sketches

The White Peacock
The Fountains of the Acqua Paola

could not be more beautiful. 

Sadly, they are rarely performed.

James Tocco's performances of Griffes'

works are wonderful.

As I consider the upcoming concert season

I am thrilled that there's



and more...

but I do wish that we'd have

 the opportunity to hear




and the other Charles

once in a while.

Stay tuned for Part II.