Thursday, February 08, 2007

The dolphin torn, the gong tormented sea

There is a point in Debussy's La Mer where, for a moment, the stage is transformed into the deck of a storm tossed ship. The violins panic like oarsmen, the cellos flounder, the bass growls like the sea. Roused from the deep, drums batter against the prow. The blast of the trumpets is a shrill, shrill wind, tearing the masts of the silence. The seats of the auditorium rise row upon row, like a great wave, towering above the struggling orchestra. The flutes cry out for mercy and the conductor, like some dishevelled captain, gesticulates wildly, trying to control the fury of the tempest, his instructions lost in the music's roar.

The hallucination passes, the scene grows still, you remember where you are. But the blood still pounds in the seashell of your heart, and the song on your lips tastes a little like salt.

***

An incredible double bill by the Philadelphia Orchestra tonight. Debussy's Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune and La Mer, followed by seething and boundless energy of Schubert's Ninth.

There's just something about Ninth Symphonies, isn't there?

3 comments:

Crp said...

So I take it that you don't agree with the critic who, after hearing it's American premiere, thought that a better title for the piece would be "Le Mal de Mer"... I don't either. The ending of the first movement (was that what you were referring to?) is one of my favourite passages in music.

witnwisdumb said...

"There's just something about Ninth Symphonies, isn't there?"

You don't say? :D

bess said...

You are no Falstaff, but Cyrano and your words have made me sick with love...