Thursday, June 29, 2017

Irish eyes, Spanish heart

Stone, when warm, will hold the heat. As will it hold the cold. When musicians such as these play in a hall with stone walls, the result is incredible resonance and warmth, along with a certain brio. The sound waves bounce off the walls at different lengths, colliding with each other in all sorts of interesting ways. The sound is both robust and tender.

The story of this piece - there isn't one, really, except that every once in a while I think of a prancing Arabian horse (every day of my life, in fact, since I am a frustrated horsewoman who never sees horses up close), and this piece comes into my head. What piece? I wasn't even sure of the composer, let alone the name of the piece. But today I had to find out.

I sat there saying to myself, listen, you will never find it, because the only search term you have is "Spanish flute music". That covers several zillion pieces, probably. But then I began to dip into YouTube, and almost immediately found a flute compilation album of French and Spanish pieces. The video only featured a tiny snippet of each piece, but - by God, there it was!

Then I had to find the web site with information on the album, and then - . Anyway, it turned out to be a very, very familiar piece by Jacques Ibert (who was called by one waggish English musicologist "Jackie Bear"). And I listened to quite a few versions before lighting up when I heard this. 

These guys, they get right inside the music, they understand it. It isn't just those gorgeous walls. The dynamics on the flute are so subtle, so passionate, it makes other versions fall flat. And he has that very rare plush, fat tone, like Rampal.

I still see a crazily prancing horse like I did in my girlhood. The Black Stallion of my dreams. This piece is his theme song.

BLOGGER'S ADDEN-DUMB. It's late at night, and I shouldn't be doing this. There was a rumor in our family, one of those things that likely has no veracity to it at all, that we had Spanish blood which went back many generations. Maybe even as far back as the Spanish Armada. That was approximately six zillion years ago, so one molecule of blood would have to stretch pretty far. The Spanish line came through my father, a blue-eyed blonde who had a weird brown fleck in one eye. My green-eyed mother produced two sons with black hair and brown eyes. That never made sense to me.

My father's father was the deuce, the domino, the artless dodger of the family, the rogue, the renegade, and likely just a raving drunk. When I read Angela's Ashes, I thought of him, appearing and disappearing, joining the army, bringing home lavish presents only to disappear again. My Dad told me his job was to hold up the wall of the pub, and for many years, I literally believed this.

My Dad passed on a white-blonde gene that couldn't have come from anywhere else, since I have two Scandinavian-looking grandkids (whose mother is dark brunette - isn't nature grand?). And yet, and yet. My Dad's father was dark, swarthy, brown-eyed, reportedly violent. 

Every once in a while it comes into my head to get one of those DNA tests, to see once and for all if I have any Spanish blood. Meantime, my other two grandkids, dark-haired and brown-eyed, DO have Spanish blood. Their great-grandmother was born in Spain. How can they be Spanish, if I am not?

Duckling challenge!

I think this is one of the best videos I've taken. Seven ducklings were faced with an impossible challenge, but somehow managed to brave it and win. 

This has been a tremendous year for ducklings and goslings, and new batches/hatches are still appearing. Many of the goslings are now plug-ugly, in that awkward middling stage, looking like plucked chickens on stilts. You can see where the Ugly Duckling story came from, for swan cygnets are probably much the same, with a lumpy, ungainly, protracted adolescence. 

Swans may look pretty, but their temperaments are quite ugly, worse than the Canada goose with its haughty stares, stiff necks and hisses. Give me the humble duck any time. Ducks always seem to be smiling, and it's rare to find a mean one anywhere. Mother ducks will drive off threats fiercely, but their constant maternal murmuring keeps the babies within their radar. Had I been raised by a duck (or a cat, for that matter - cats make tender and attentive mothers), things might have turned out very differently for me.

The original black stallion