Tuesday, November 21, 2006

That time of year, Satie, cold room

It is not only the season that reminds me this morning of Shakepeare's sonnet No 73. Someone is to perform it and other sonnets to music. This one begins with the familar words of which one doesn't tire:
"That time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Against those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined chapels, where late the sweet birds sang.

Eric Satie's piano music has been a favourite for a long time. It's the sort of idle, melancholy
sound with a fleeting addictive tune, that you can keep going while doing something else. I read to day that Satie himself described some of his pieces as "furniture music", which you don't have to listen intently to. He was an eccentric man with an engaging sense of humour. Apart from the strange titles - Gymnopédies, Gnossiennes, Trois Morceaux enForme de Poire - which he gave to his pieces, Satie provided instructions on how certain passages should be played. These include:
"In the morning on an empty stomach"
"With a lot of difficulty".

One of the houses overlooking the Grove nearly always has the curtains behind its numerous windows closed. Today, two are open. The sun beams in. In one of the rooms, sits an elderly man. He is wearing an overcoat and a tweed hat.


tristan said...

the thing about gymnopaedies is not just the tune but the impossibly unpredictable gaps between the notes

Unknown said...

It hadn't occured to me, but you're right.Cheers.