Composed by Richard Strauss during the final months of the Second World War, it may reflect his sadness at the destruction of much of Germany. Certainly it is melancholic. Though it is also beguiling.
Ironically, my introduction to this piece was accidental. I subscribed to a classical music magazine when CDs were still relatively new. Continue reading
For the first time since its liberation, permission was granted for music to be heard in Auschwitz.
This forms the central section of a three-part symphony by the Polish composer Henryk Górecki. He was relatively unknown until 1992 when the whole symphony including this piece was released and went on to become a sensation, with over a million sales, topping the classical charts in both he UK and the US. Continue reading
From a time when flying especially in a jet plane was still rare.
I remember age 11, in my first year at the new school, one of my class playing her guitar and singing this in our music lesson. The classroom had posters of Curved Air, and Simon and Garfunkel and a fabulous, young music teacher, with hair like Simon Rattle. And a passion for Petrushka; I can still see him now dancing slowly around the room while we listened to it.
From Deliverance starring a young Burt Reynolds. I watched the film decades ago. All I remember was this clip; and that the film was brutal.
The video image is poor, so turn the screen away and just listen – Melanie at her best. A song written by The Rolling Stones. I prefer this version, perhaps because I heard it first.
Just watched what should have been a great film. Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro and featuring Idris Elba.
What a waste. Pseudo-dinosaurs boxing with gigantic humanoid robots. In an age of nuclear weapons, they prefer the left hook?! Cue macho male leads and a solo, subordinate, woman. Life’s too short. Very disappointing. Going back to Pan’s Labyrinth.
Mischa Maisky plays Bach Cello Suite No.1 in G
This is music to get lost in. With a performance from Maisky that is as lovely to watch as it is to listen to.
I first heard this piece of music at a performance by a Taiwanese dance troupe, called Cloud Gate. Nearly 30 minutes of Tai Chi like dance, set to this music.
The Straight Story is one David Lynch film you may not have heard of. It is certainly unlike any other David Lynch film I have ever seen, ye for me it is his best. Quiet, quirky and yet strangely affecting and unforgettable.
Like 84 Charing Cross Road, it is based on a true story. In 1994, the 73 year-old Alvin Straight unable to drive a car due to poor eyesight, rode 240 miles across Iowa and Wisconsin on a lawnmower, pulling a trailer! As he drives slowly along the highways of the Midwest, you get to see a finely painted image of the communities he passes through. A splendid, and unexpected, treat from David Lynch.
The leading actor Richard Farnsworth, a Hollywood stuntman for over sixty years, received an Oscar nomination for his role.
84 Charing Cross Road though relatively little known is minor masterpiece. Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins are the two main characters in this film adaptation of the twenty-year correspondence between author, and avid reader, Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, from Marks & Co. a book seller in London’s West End.
I lent my copy to a friend recently. I think she sums it up well:
“I loved watching 84 Charing Cross Road. What an amazing film. And why had I not ever watched it before?“
There is a site dedicated to the play and film here. A list of the books sought by Ms Hanff can even be found here. A cult film? Perhaps, if not I really feel it should be :)
A lovely, rather haunting re-working of a song that originally had a totally different feel. (Originally it was in Disney’s Mary Poppins!)