One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
The summer's half gone.
I decided to take it easy this weekend for once. On a lark, I left work early on Friday, flew to Dallas to see as many movies as I could before flying back Saturday night.
I only managed two: Winter Bone and I Am Love (basically on recommendations from dewittar and stivalineri.) They were both very good, it would be hard to argue otherwise. Both recreated very rarefied, closed worlds of particular families: one in the Ozark backwoods, and one in upper the reaches of Milanese society. Both had thoughtful, intelligent, and discounted women as protagonists. Tilda Swinton apparently learned Italian for her role. Her character was Russian so any accent might have been plausible - although beyond my ear. She's such a wonderful actress and (for me) the essence of the Zeitgeist. Wonder if she'll get nominations? Also, I Am Love used music by John Adams - a composer I've never warmed to before. But the music (which was not constant) would jump from chamber music textures to rather loud orchestrations. That didn't make any sense. But when the titles came around, I noticed it had been culled together from Adams' entire output. It was sensitively done, but the effect was still too jumbled for my taste.
Good as the movies were I enjoyed the meals and coffee with Israel more. We spent the two hours before the return flight in Half Price Books where I found a Jordi Savall recording of Monteverdi's Vespers - a piece that has eluded me. I put it on the iPod and spent Sunday afternoon and evening going between the Savall recording and one from the 1960s by Robert Craft.
As I was driving home this morning from practicing, I noticed a large black bird perched on a branch of my tree that hangs over the street. The bird was high in the air almost in the middle of the street. I pulled in the driveway and pulled my phone out to capture it -- but as I clicked, the bird flew off.
I went to Albuquerque & Santa Fe for a quickie trip on Sunday - back late Tuesday night. Before the internet, before bears, before I had income to spare, I went to New Mexico religiously. First to Santa Fe - for the mountains & hiking, for friends, for the opera, for the food, etc. Then later to Albuquerque, while my friend Philip was in residency and fellowship there. Somehow, my road trips to anywhere have been gradually replaced by flights - thus my travel to the land of enchantment has greatly diminished.
I went this time for a day and a half of an organ convention (in both cities), and to have lunch and catch up with Jo. The organ events were surprisingly good: 4 organ recitals and 3 choral concerts. Daniel Roth played Sunday evening at the Episcopal cathedral in Albuquerque. Quite stunning. After the intermission, he concluded with the Widor 'Symphonie Romane'. The thought of sitting through a composition like this in my 20s would have had me bolting - a piece so clearly belonging to the aesthetics of the late 19th century. But somehow now, I can listen to something like this and become quite involved - granted it requires a truly gifted and amazing musician, and an amazing instrument and acoustic environment. But if everything lines up, like it did here, it can take your breath away. All of the other recitalists (including Stephen Tharp) were excellent. Of the choral groups, I enjoyed De Profundis the best. They were probably the most amateur of the 3 groups, but the easy rapport they had with each other, the lovely blended sound they made, and the very sensitive and intelligent program they sang moved them to the top of the list.
I miss New Mexico. I miss Larry's Hats in Albuquerque, I miss green chile being an option on every menu. I miss the mountain pastures. I miss the small funky towns that seem lost in time. I miss the harrowing 2-lane-blacktop drive back to Texas on Highway 104 - the way it slowly descends from the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the plains, the ways the skies change over and over, the way the dramatic thunder storms quickly rise and fade.