Saturday, March 31, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Chopin's piano, Mallorca. Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I think that to really enjoy a piece of classical music you have to find musicians who interpret it in a way that fully satisfies your expectations. Usually you don't really know what that interpretation might be until you hear it, but when you do you immediately sense that it's right. There's often a concensus of opinion as to which musicians or conductors are most 'in tune' with individual composers - Bruno Walter's Mahler, or Glenn Gould's Bach are typical examples - but in the end it boils down to personal taste. The pianist Alfred Brendel is supposedly a great player of Beethoven, but leaves me cold, and I'm equally unmoved by Arthur Rubinstein's 'legendary' Chopin, or Vladimir Horowitz's famed Schumann. Even if a musician plays one composer well, there's no guarantee he or she will play other similar composers equally well. Karl Bohm, for example, conducted Mozart's symphonies brilliantly, with just the right balance of bite and finesse, but his recordings of Beethoven's symphonies seem plodding and unconvincing to me. Conversely, Herbert Von Karajan conducts the Beethoven Symphonies (except the Ninth, which seemed to evade him) with great zest and panache, but his Mozart is pretty insipid. Anyway, my favourite kind of classical music is for (mainly solo) piano, so here are some great pianists whose interpretations of various composers I like. Doubtless they also play other composers well too, but these are just the ones I've heard and enjoyed. I was introduced to a few of them by friends, while most of the others were discovered via BBC Radio 3 - about the only radio station I ever listen to - or at live performances. Anyone have other recommendations?

Geza Anda - Mozart (concertos)
Martha Argerich - Bach, Haydn, Prokofiev
Daniel Barenboim - Beethoven
Jorge Bolet - Liszt
Imogen Cooper - Schubert, Mozart
Glenn Gould - Bach, Byrd, Brahms, Haydn
Ingrid Haebler - Mozart (concertos)
Clara Haskil - Mozart
Keith Jarrett - Bach, Handel
Wilhelm Kempff - Beethoven
Stephen Kovacevich - Beethoven, Mozart
Joanna MacGregor - Villa-Lobos, Satie, Debussy
John McCabe - Haydn
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli - Debussy, Chopin
Tatiana Nikolayeva - Shostakovich
Mikhail Pletnev - D Scarlatti
Ivo Pogorelich - Bach
Maurizio Pollini - Chopin, Schubert, Schoenberg
Svaitoslav Richter - Schumann, Prokoviev
Pascal Rogé - Ravel, Satie, Fauré
Andras Schiff - Bach, Janacek, Schumann
Artur Schnabel - Schubert, Beethoven
Mitsuko Uchida - Mozart
Tamas Vasary - Chopin
Christian Zacharias - D Scarlatti

Thursday, March 29, 2007

It is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression. One must always take photos with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Elliott Erwitt
Elliott Erwitt - Pasadena, California, 1963
When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.
Robert Frank
To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Concerning Ye Toothache
Sod's Law applies to many situations, and, for me at least, one of them is toothache. Why is it that whenever I have a problem with a tooth my dentist is unavailable? This particular offending molar first gave me trouble just after Christmas, neatly coinciding with the holidays when everything was shut down. I spent New Year's Eve sitting on my own at midnight drinking whisky, not to celebrate the arrival of 2007, but in a futile attempt to dull the pain while everyone else was out carousing. I then suffered in silence for another four days until my dentist returned to work and prescribed some antibiotics to reduce the swelling on my gum because by then I was developing an abscess. The pills worked and I had no further trouble till last week when it started to niggle me again, before suddenly flaring up with a vengeance on Friday afternoon. Of course, by then the dentist was off for the weekend, so I decided to sit it out till yesterday morning when I tried to get an emergency appointment. But naturally he was off work then and I could only get an appointment later today. A couple of years ago I had a similar experience, developing raging toothache on the very day that my dentist had flown to the Alps for a week on the piste.

There's something about the gnawing intensity of toothache that simply beggars belief. It certainly concentrates the mind when you have no alternative but to endure it, and nothing, but nothing, seems to bring any relief. All you can conclude is that it would be even worse if you weren't popping the painkillers, but that's not exactly a lot of comfort as waves of throbbing pain surge remorselessly through your jaw, down your neck, and up to your cheekbone. I was trying to apply some form of mind control earlier, but with zero success. It's impossible even to hold a conversation when it strikes. Now and then there are moments - lasting perhaps half and hour - when it mysteriously subsides and you get an almost euphoric feeling merely from its absence. Suddenly you can function again, perhaps do a little work or drink some tea, or write a blog post, then boom, it's back.

Robert Burns wrote an Address to the Toothache, describing it as the 'hell o' a' diseases', which, while a gross exaggeration, contains a grain of truth. He also mentioned the affliction in a letter to his publisher William Creech: 'I had intended to have troubled you with a long letter', he says, 'but at present the delightful sensation of an omnipotent toothache so engrosses all my inner man, as to put it out of my power even to write nonsense.' Too true.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I'm suffering from toothache and a cold, so due to lack of inspiration here's a meme I noticed chez udge recently...

1. Go to wikipedia and type in your birthday, month and day only

2. List events that occurred on that day that interest you
3761 BC - The origin of the modern Hebrew calendar.
1520 - First public burning of books in the Netherlands, in Louvain.
1582 - Due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
1769 - Captain Cook discovers New Zealand.
1870 - Leon Gambetta flees Paris in a balloon.
1950 - Annexation of Tibet by China
1955 - Allen Ginsberg reads 'Howl' for the first time at a poetry reading in San Francisco.
1959 - USSR probe Luna 3 transmits first ever photographs of the far side of the moon.
2001 - The US invasion of Afghanistan starts

3. List a few birthdays
1885 - Niels Bohr, Danish physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
1900 - Heinrich Himmler, Nazi official
1927 - RD Laing, Scottish psychologist
1931 - Desmond Tutu, South African archbishop and Nobel Laureate
1934 - Ulrike Meinhof, German terrorist
1955 - Yo-Yo Ma, French-born cellist
1968 - Thom Yorke, English singer (Radiohead)

4. List a few deaths
1849 - Edgar Allan Poe, American writer
1959 - Mario Lanza, American tenor

5. List a holiday or observance (if any)
Feast day of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, considered by some to be the first gay Christian martyrs. Saint Bacchus sounds a bit unlikely to me, but there you go...
Belle de Nuit Day in the French Republican Calendar, a short-lived and bewildering attempt to rearrange Time around the French Revolution.
Composer Day in Brazil. Well, I do like a good samba occasionally.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Friday, March 23, 2007

Compare this chap with my profile picture.
Yes, I am indeed Mr Cholmondley-Warner.

(Sonny and Lois pull to a stop in town; Lois stops the car)
Sonny: It's not the same now. Nothing's really been right since Sam the Lion died.
Lois: No. No, it hasn't. (she tears up) Oh, god. I get sad if I think of Sam for long. Did you know he had beautiful hands?
Sonny: I guess you liked him, didn't you? I guess everybody did.
Lois: Well, I'll tell you, it was different with me, Sonny. I loved him. He loved me, too.
Sonny: Are you... are you the one he used to take swimming -- out at the tank?
Lois: He told you about that, huh? Yeah, I was the one. Oh, I guess if it wasn't for Sam, I'd... just about have missed it, whatever it is. I'd have been one of them amity types that thinks that playing bridge is about the best thing that life has to offer. Old Sam the Lion. Sam the Lion -- you know, nobody knows where he got that name; I gave it to him. One night it just came to me. He was so pleased. I was twenty-two years old then. Can you imagine? I'll tell you Sonny, it's terrible to only meet one man in your whole life who knows what you're worth. Just terrible. I've looked too. You wouldn't believe how I've looked.
Sonny: Well, now I know that's why Sam liked you.
Lois: (quickly) Loved me.
Sonny: Loved you, I mean.
(Lois leans towards Sonny to hold his cheek)
Lois: Do you? Well, I can kind of see what he saw in you, too.
(She regards Sonny for a long time, contemplating a seduction)
Lois: Nope, I'll just go on home. (she starts the car) Go on, get out.

from The Last Picture Show

see also Sam telling Sonny about Lois here, and some clips

Thursday, March 22, 2007

just waiting for the sun ...
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Remember the Mountain Bed
Do you still sing of the mountain bed we made of limbs and leaves?
Do you still sigh there near the sky where the holly berry bleeds?
You laughed as I covered you over with leaves
Face, breast, hips, and thighs
You smiled when I said the leaves were just the color of your eyes.

Rosin smells and turpentine smells from eucalyptus and pine
Bitter tastes of twigs we chewed where tangled wood vines twine
Trees held us in on all four sides so thick we could not see
I could not see any wrong in you, and you saw none in me.

Your arm was brown against the ground, your cheeks part of the sky
Your fingers played with grassy moss, as limber you did lie
Your stomach moved beneath your shirt and your knees were in the air
Your feet played games with mountain roots as you lay thinking there.

Below us the trees grew clumps of trees, raised families of trees, and they
As proud as we tossed their heads in the wind and flung good seeds away
The sun was hot and the sun was bright down in the valley below
Where people starved and hungry for life so empty come and go.

There in the shade and hid from the sun we freed our minds and learned
Our greatest reason for being here, our bodies moved and burned
There on our mountain bed of leaves we learned life's reason why
The people laugh and love and dream, they fight, they hate to die.

The smell of your hair I know is still there, if most of our leaves are blown
Our words still ring in the brush and the trees where singing seeds are sown
Your shape and form is dim but plain, there on our mountain bed
I see my life was brightest where you laughed and laid your head...

I learned the reason why man must work and how to dream big dreams
To conquer time and space and fight the rivers and the seas
I stand here filled with my emptiness now and look at city and land
And I know why farms and cities are built by hot, warm, nervous hands.

I crossed many states just to stand here now, my face all hot with tears
I crossed city, and valley, desert, and stream, to bring my body here
My history and future blaze bright in me and all my joy and pain
Go through my head on our mountain bed where I smell your hair again.

All this day long I linger here and on in through the night
My greeds, desires, my cravings, hopes, my dreams inside me fight:
My loneliness healed, my emptiness filled, I walk above all pain
Back to the breast of my woman and child to scatter my seeds again.

A prize to anyone who can guess the famous American singer-songwriter who wrote this poem. No googling of course :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

At Joan's
It is almost three
I sit at the marble top
sorting poems, miserable
the little lamp glows feebly
I don't glow at all

I have another cognac
and stare at two little paintings
of Jean-Paul's, so great
I must do so much
or did they just happen

the breeze is cool
barely a sound filters up
through my confused eyes
I am lonely for myself
I can't find a real poem

if it won't happen to me
what shall I do

Frank O'Hara

Monday, March 19, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Beware of the man whose God is in the skies.
George Bernard Shaw, from 'Man and Superman'

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.
Albert Einstein

Friday, March 16, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The Sea-Shells
Each shell, encrusted, we see,
in the cave where we achieved love’s goal,
has its own peculiarity.

One has the purple colour of souls,
ours, thief of the blood our hearts possess
when I burn, and you flame like hot coals.

That one affects your languorousness,
your pallor, your weary form
angered by my mocking eyes’ caress:

this one mimics the charm
of your ear, and in this I see
your rosy neck, so full and warm:

but one, among them all, troubled me.

Paul Verlaine, from Fêtes Galants, 1869

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Saturday, March 10, 2007

accidental mysteries ~ i love 'found' photographs and old snapshots ...

Friday, March 09, 2007

I have to take a short break from blogging. Back as soon as I can. Take care.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The Christian decision to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Monday, March 05, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Double Life of Veronique
There are too many things in the world which divide people, such as religion, politics, history, and nationalism. If culture is capable of anything, then it is finding that which unites us all. And there are so many things which unite people. It doesn't matter who you are or who I am, if your tooth aches or mine, it's still the same pain. Feelings are what link people together, because the word `love' has the same meaning for everybody. Or `fear', or `suffering'. We all fear the same way and the same things. And we all love in the same way. That's why I tell about these things, because in all other things I immediately find division.

Krzysztof Kieslowski
see also The Krzysztof Kieslowski Blog-a-thon

Friday, March 02, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The mind obeys the body.
Giacomo Casanova

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
George Bernard Shaw