Monday, August 27, 2007

Asturias - Isaac Albeniz

A long time ago I used to play the guitar. One of the pieces I used to try to play was about a hurricane. I remember the first part seemed to shimmer and gradually grow in strength as the winds grew stronger. There was a frantic feel about the piece; discordant chords interrupting the arpeggios like pieces of furniture flying around the room, and everything becoming louder and faster until, quite suddenly, everything became quiet.

The eye of the storm, I was told by my teacher who played it almost perfectly. Crickets settled on the reed and the reeds swayed. A drip of water fell from a roof. In a stream a fish surfaced briefly and disappeared again. The buildings settled. But it was a disquiet quiet. There was a sense of waiting for the storm to return - and soon it came.

A small scrap of paper spiraled along the road. Then a tin can. A quiet little tremolo built up into another thrashing chord. Chaotic notes chased each other up and down the fingerboard. The storm had returned.

I loved that piece. Eventually I found a simplified version and every time I played it I imagined myself in a hot place waiting for a storm. I suppose I felt that for a short time I was escaping. It was part of my endless quest to move from wherever I happen to find myself now.

I remembered it today because yesterday I heard a busker playing that piece in town. His guitar was electric but it was just as beautiful. It was originally composed for the piano in imitation of a guitar and later transposed for the guitar by Francisco Tárrega with Albéniz's approval. Cécilia Sarkozy, the glamorous wife of the new president of France, is the great granddaughter of Albéniz and this piece was played this year on May 16th at the president's inauguration. And here it is again...Asturias by Isaac Albéniz played expertly by that master of the guitar - John Williams.

Another Cecilia - it is a name I seldom hear but this connects this post with my previous one. There is another connection too - Albéniz travelled widely in South America in his youth and was much influenced by Argentine music in consequence - and the film biography of his life was made in Argentina. It's strange how often the apparently most distant things turn out to be connected.


Blogger Kay Cooke said...

I adore guitar music. So you play guitar as well? As I said ... you are a truly amazing woman. (I know you'll hate me saying that. But there. I've said it and it's true.)

Mon Aug 27, 09:57:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but I really wasn't terribly good at the guitar, CB! I took a few grades but I was never satisfied with the way I played - and I never play now. So not so wonderful after all, I'm afraid. But thank you for being so kind.

Mon Aug 27, 07:21:00 pm  

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