My introduction to Mussorgsky was Fantasia’s Night on Bald Mountain as a child. I was unaware of him as composer mind you. Later it was Emerson Lake & Palmer’s take on Pictures as at Exhibition – rock bombast. Then Tomita’s electronic interpretations of Pictures came along. I love the stereo work on it – the birds chirping from speaker to speaker.
I also had an lp with orchestral suites from Boris Godunov on one side & Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances on the other. I can still hear the bell in Boris suite.From MHS I had an lp of his solo piano music. Emotive romantic nostalgic. One piece was called “Nurse Locks Me In A Closet.” Who could resist that title 🙂
What I have on the shelf are cds of Songs; Pictures; Boris Godunov: 3 cds; Khovanshchina 3 cds; Piano Music/Pictures; Boris Suite, Pictures, Bald Mountain. I also have Live From the Met cassettes of Khovanshchina that I’ve kept sit is quite different from the cd version. As you see I have various versions of Pictures at an Exhibition: orchestral, solo piano, two pianos, organ & somewhere a jazz take. The Gates of Kiev shows up often for grand military moments in movies, TV.
His music is impressionistic, romantic, patriotic & lyric. He’s not as emotional as Tchaikovsky, not as austere as Shostakovich, or as calculated as Stravinsky. His operas have Wagnerian epic sweep. Like many Slovak composers he makes great use of folk melodies. If you are unfamiliar start with an orchestral Pictures at an Exhibition.
‘What would make you do a thing like that?’
I knew from the tone of my Dad’s voice I was in real trouble.
‘Sometimes I don’t know what gets into your head. I really don’t. Your mom and I do our best to make a good home for you. We lead a good life. Give you a good example and then you go and do something like this.’
I knew there wasn’t much I could say. At least not until I knew just what the thing I had done that he was talking about.
‘Don’t you have anything to say for yourself? No, wait before you attempt to apologize or explain let, me explain one thing. Your mother is up in our room crying her eyes out. You understand. This is going too far. Much too far.’
My mom cried at the drop of a cake, so I wasn’t too distressed to hear that whatever it was I had done had started her off on another jag. It wasn’t my fault that she needed professional help. Help my Dad figured wasn’t really right, morally right, that is. What would the neighbours think if my mom went to a shrink. They’d think we were a family like all the others.
‘Now, I’m listening.’
My Dad sat on the arm of the sofa. His perch from which he was ready to pounce.
‘Dad I’m … What exactly did I do?’
‘Oh! Now it’s the innocent act. What did I do? God, why was I cursed with such sons.’
‘Dad you are being melodramatic.’ I wanted to add ‘again’ but bit my tongue. No need to antagonize him any further.
‘You mean you really don’t know what you’ve done.’
‘Then I really don’t know what to tell you.’
‘You could start by telling me what it is that set you off like this. It’s been a pretty ordinary week, so far. Haven’t missed any classes. Did okay on that last quiz. Haven’t stayed out late. Haven’t played my stereo too loud. Haven’t hogged the Internet for hours on end. I even took out the trash last night. Didn’t I?’
‘You better have. How old are you?’
Oh I knew what it was. My social life. My lack of ‘action.’
‘Old enough, Dad. Why does it always come down to this? Always. I will date when I’m ready to.’
‘That’s not it. I know what you did. You mother knows. We just don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with your age. Peer pressure. Someone that would entice you into that sort of behaviour.’
‘Dad what are you talking about? Does it start with a ‘b’?’
‘Don’t make fun, son. Please, that won’t make it any easier on us. Mocking us all the time. I know you kids enjoy that sort of thing but we parents just see it as …’
He was speechless. His eyes glazed as he gaped over my shoulder. I turned around.
‘Mom! How long have you been there?’
every Tuesday 2019
Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise
August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)
Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors
June – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. capfireslam.org
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