Posted by: jkirkby8712 | November 22, 2011

Sunday, 20th November 2011 – musical Sunday!

Another pleasant morning on the radio today –  amongst my music played was a beautiful  part of a symphony composed by the Polish composer of classical contemporary music, Henryk Gorecki who was born in 1933 and died just last year.  His Symphony No 3 had the, for some, rather off-putting sub title of ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’  –  3 movements, 3 separate longs. He wrote it in 1976, and dedicated it to his wife, though we are not told if there was a specific reason for that.  Because of the length of the overall composition, I played only the first of those today [planned to complete it next week].

The first movement both starts and finishes very quietly – something I always warn my listeners about, in case they think the station has ‘gone off air’!! It opens with a canon for strings, building gradually through the possible orchestral register, starting with the double basses and mounting in pitch and intensity, as each part enters in imitation. At the heart of the movement is the 15th century Polish Lamentation of the Holy Cross Monastery, in which the Mother of Christ begs her dying Son to speak to her. After this the canon resumes, descending, as before it had risen, in both pitch and intensity, slowly unwinding to end the single melodic line, the cantus firmus with which the movement had begun. Now I know that’s getting a little musically technical, but I suppose in layman’s terms, my best description is simple one of a mysterious and haunting melody flowing throughout the piece, and as indicated rising in crescendo and force as we approach the vocal part, and then the reverse of intensity, etc towards the end of the movement. The singer of the lamentation was the Polish soprano, Zofia Kilanowicz, and I must her brief appearance within the movement was fascinatingly eerie almost, and while not sung in English created the perfect atmosphere depicted above. The lyrics too were brief, but full of mystery and the achingly heart rending cry of a mother for her son:-

My son, chosen and loved,

Let your mother share your wounds

And since, my dear son,

I have always kept you in my heart,

And loyally served you,

Speak to your mother,

make her happy,

Though, my dear hope,

You are now leaving me.

For the 27 minute duration of that music, I adjourned to the neighbouring ‘Green Room’, to allow myself to sit back and listen through that room’s radio to Gorecki’s music, with the hope that no phone calls would interrupt my moments of respite and enjoyment. In fact, the only calls I received this morning came from the presenters who were due to follow me, to advise they would not be in, and from Jack Harris later  –  to apologise that he could not fill in, in response to my on air request in search of  another presenter interested in doing a 3 hour shift playing country music.  Thankfully, neither of those calls came through whilst Gorecki’s music was on air.  

Late morning, I caught a train into the city, and with time to spare, casually made my way back down to one of my most frequented city locations over recent years – the Melbourne Recital Centre. Lots of crowds around the city CBD area and across the Yarra River/Southbank/ Botanical Gardens and Arts Centre precincts –  I’d not realised the popularity of the ‘Sunday market’ in this area with dozens of stalls selling a wide range of goodies spread along the footpath, in St Kilda Road for some distance  – couple of nice looking paintings and sketches of Melbourne scenes and sites that would have added nicely to my lounge room walls, but I reminded myself that I was not down here to make such purchases on this occasion!

The purpose in fact of this trip was to attend a concert by the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra – first time I’ve heard this particular group of musicians, so I was looking forward to this afternoon’s concert. Annoyingly, whilst it is a beautiful location, and in most cases, I enjoy thoroughly the music that is being presented, I find in this environment that I am so often feeling very sleepy, and at times have to almost ‘fight off’ the desire to close my eyes and drift off – I always feel that would be a severe embarrassment to ‘dose off’ in such surroundings. I think it is because of the concert hall environment – at home, or at the radio station, I seldom feel any of such tiredness while listening to the music, but at those places, I’m not restricted to a seat where I basically can’t change position, or get up and walk around, etc – almost a claustaphobic sensation  [that spelling doesn’t look right, and spell check is no help?] – at today’s ‘age’ I don’t seem to be comfortable in the one position to the same degree I used to be able to cope with!

Anyway, putting aside what is probably  my natural weariness these days  –   it was a very enjoyable afternoon.  Began with Arcangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto [Concerto Grosso in G Minor], part of which I played on the radio this morning –  the only real reference to Christmas in the music  [apart from the fact that Corelli subtitled the composition ‘Per la note di Natale’ or for Christmas night] seems to be in the 6th and final movement, titled the ‘Pastorale’ which uses standard Baroque musical images for pastoral scenes, aimed at evoking the ‘shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night’ of the Nativity. The second violinist featured particularly in Corelli’s piece – a small, youngish player, she certainly received some popular applause at the conclusion [think her name was Erica Kennedy]. The First violinist, and Director of the Orchestra was William Kennedy.

The second item on the program was Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9, and this featured a guest pianist with the orchestra – Aura Go – a short girl, aged 24 years, from Finland, making her first trip to Australia. In actual fact, home is Australia, this was her first return since travelling to Finland where she is studying for her Doctorate at the Sebelius Academy, a five year commitment. Anyway, as expected from one of Mozart’s piano concertos, a powerful and inspiring piece of music described by one critic as being a concerto of which ‘none gives a stronger impression than this youthful work of excitement’……composed in the months of his 21st birthday.

That took us to the interval, which was followed by the full orchestra again presenting Jean Sibelius’s ‘String Quartet in D minor – an exuberant piece of music arranged for string orchestra by Calvin Bowman, and has a subtitle, applied mainly to the middle of the five movements, of ‘Intimate Voices’ [which in fact was the name applied to this concert overall]  – certainly the music played was both intimate and symphonic, more than usually so for the string quartets that I’ve been used to listening to in this venue.

No encores today, as far as extra music was concerned, and I was on my way soon after proceedings ended. Have a busy week ahead of me – two more evening concerts during the week, and a trip back to the workplace tomorrow! Caught a rather crowded VLine train going through to Bendigo and then on to Echuca, up on the Victoria/New South Wales border. Not many spare seats, presumably a lot of visitors to Melbourne for the weekend making their return journeys. Thankfully, Sunbury was one of the stopping off points along the route!

Cooked a meal for Susie and myself tonight, though she was out again, and probably didn’t eat until much  later in the night. Her eating patterns are somewhat out of kilter with the norm at the present time!

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