Piston, Poulenc and Chopin

I have a couple of stand-alones by Walter Piston (1894 – 1976) Violin Concertos, Chamber Music that I picked up in 2004 at HMV. This was part of my musical education to see/hear was happening in modern classical music. I am familiar with other genres of non-mainstream – electronic, free jazz, prog rock. Walter Piston (an ideal porn name, if you ask me) is one of several respected American composers whom I had never heard of until I did a bit of research.The music, to me, not all that memorable. Technically challenging violin concertos are fine but I am not the audience  – this is music for musicians more than it is music for the general public. I don’t find myself drawn back to it as I am with Gershwin or Copeland.

Next on the shelf is an mp3 collections headed by Francis Poulenc. He is best know for his opera Dialogues des Carmélites (which I don’t have) but I had an lp of his Concerto champetre – a fun harpsichord concerto full of mood, percussive keyboard work & charm. I downloaded this version as part of a set of his orchestral suites which are engaging & almost impressionist.

So it made sense to add some Scriabin to this collection. So here is Le Poem de l’extase, Concerto for Piano, Le Poeme du Feu. This is brilliant, moody work that is lush, romantic & full of sonic intrigue. Not here, but which I have, are his piano sonatas that are also brilliant. Scriabin was gifted with synesthesia: seeing music as colours & beautiful colours at that. He was greatly influenced by Chopin.

Which lead to adding Jan Lisiecki (1995) recording of Chopin’s Piano Concertos 1/2, from 2009. Yes, he was a prodigy but his playing is emotional & sensitive. There was/is some quibble about a performer so young tackling the classics. I have other recordings of these concertos & his take is excellent.

 

Finally in this collection is the Shutter Island soundtrack. This a soundtrack that doesn’t need the movie – Max Richter pieces are somber, eerie, almost spiritual & clearly inspired by Scriabin atonal work.  The classical pieces add to the sense of darkness. The movie itself is high-drama, dark & stormy night, psychobabble spookiness that needs a soundtrack to work.

Are You Ready

My nervous pacing was as clear to me now as if it was yesterday not a month ago, when I first hooked up with Devon. Double-checked to make sure the buzzer system was working and the lobby channel was on the TV so I could keep an eye for who was coming & going. I wasn’t sure what to expect even though I had seen his profile picture & the few others he had sent me. The lobby camera was crap for detail so I was never sure what purpose it served. Even though I was expecting him I jumped when the phone rang at his buzz. 

Devon was exactly what I would have wanted. Smelt good. Looked good in and out of his jeans and was eager to get out of them too. We even managed some conversation after the sex. I agreed to meeting him again and again. Now a month had passed and we were actually seeing each other not just hooking up. We’d worked out a routine where by he’d phone or text when he was a few minutes away. Tonight, for the first time, we were doing something outside, in the real world, where people would see us together.

My cell phone rang. I answered automatically.

“I’m in the lobby.”

“I’ll be right down.”

He was pacing when I got to the lobby. I reach out to kiss him when my cell rang again. I answered it.

“Are you ready to die?” A voice I nearly recognized.

“Excuse me?”

Dial tone. Unknown number.

“What was it?” Devon asked me.

“Wrong number.” I laughed. It had to be. Who would want to harm me?

On the sidewalk I looked around. Wasn’t this how that movie started? Was someone watching me from one of those windows, giggling as I looked around to see if someone was watching me from one of those windows? I put phone into my coat pocket. 

“Don’t forget where it is this time.” Devon mimed patting his pockets and then his shoes looking for a phone.

It rang again. I got it on the first ring.

“Are you ready to die?”

Dial tone before I had time to say anything. Unknown number.

“What is it?”

My face must have paled this time. The first time I wasn’t sure I heard what I heard. This time I was sure.

“Some guy asked me if I was ready to die.”

“Is that d-i-e or d-y-e? Sounds like some weird promo for a hair salon if you ask me.”

“Or a movie.”

“Seriously. Someone is calling you with death threats. Go to the police.”

“These are first & so far the only such threats I’ve ever received.”

“What does he say? I’m assuming it’s a he.”

“I am too but they are so brief I can’t really say for sure. He says ‘Are you ready to die.’ ”

“You know the voice.”

“No. It’s not like those heavy breathers in the movies. Not even threatening. Matter of fact. Are you ready for dinner. Let’s meet for coffee – sort of normal.”


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 

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