Friday, December 11, 2015

notes to dream by

In 1880, a young widow in Germany asked the artist Arnold Böcklin for a painting "to dream by."

In response, he painted a series of five versions of a painting which became known as Isle of the Dead.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was inspired by a black and white reproduction of Isle of the Dead to write a Symphonic Poem (Opus 29) under the same name, in 1909.

This version was destroyed during WWII.

The momentum of this piece builds slowly, as if in time to the rowing of an unnamed boatman. The recording is from a performance of the Russian National Orchestra (RNO)  on November 7, 2012, with Mikhail Pletnev at the baton.

For further reading, this article in the New York Times on the subject  may be of interest.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

the beauty of vanishing

Self-portrait with a Scarf - Zinaida Serebriakova

Before the Storm - Valentina Serebriakova

the beauty of vanishing

Some say there is a perfume named azure,
and impute to it lavender or frangipani notes;
but, for me, azure plucks at the strings of a harp,
dispersing blue morpho clouds of melody.

Spruce - Zinaida Serebriakova

In the garden of the stars her roses bloom,
their fractal filaments attract the bright bees;
the deeper I sink into the earth, the more I hear
their hum in the silence, and taste their honey.

Evening - Isaac Levitan

(for erin) when i ask, where have the redpolls gone, and why the silence at my seed station your eyes, unbidden twin candles startle ...

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