A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Le Tombeau de Couperin

Tonight I spent a lovely evening at the symphony with friend Maggie, enjoying a program of Mozart, Haydn, Hummel, and Ravel. Maggie's a discriminating musician who picks and chooses her concerts carefully and doesn't fool around with the cheap seats. Symphony Hall is a classy venue, newly renovated and with good acoustics. Best of all, it's only five blocks away from my house.

I particularly like the Ravel piece, Le Tombeau de Couperin. It was originally composed as a suite for piano. The six movements of the suite are: Prélude, Fugue, Forlane, Rigaudon, Menuet, and Toccata. Ravel later orchestrated four of these: the Fugue, Forlane, Rigaudon, and Menuet. And, since we were at the symphony, that's what we heard.

A tombeau in the musical sense is a memorial piece. Ravel dedicated each movement to one of his friends who had died in the Great War. The work, however, is anything but funereal. The forlane and rigaudon, for example, are peppy dances; the menuet is a bit more stately, but by no means somber. The menuet is my favorite movement of this suite.

Symphony Hall was built in 1912. The orchestrated version of Le Tombeau de Couperin was first performed in 1920. I wonder when it was first performed in our hall?

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