a hill of the sprites, the dance of the drums, and some muted strings...
well, i'm off to norway for the 100th anniversary of grieg's death, to gather material for a piece that will happen in the fall. the distance means that the archives here will be gathering dust until may 7 when i return. it is unlikely i'll have email or internet access... so here's a few gems to tide things over...
first is an old RPPC of edvard grieg's cabin at troldhaugen (which translates as the "hill of the sprites"). i am hoping the end of my visit will include this small cabin where grieg composed much of his work. there's a nice story from an old article i found on grieg that said he liked to leave notes for potential burglers inside the small writing cabin asking them to leave the manuscript papers and take whatever else they might want... i'm hoping to make some recordings there.
the second is left turn from norway, from a 78 set of music by uday shankar that i picked up last week. shankar was an indian dancer/choreographer, and also ravi shankar's older brother. the thing that got me interested me in him was the fact that guru dutt got his artistic start as a young dancer in shankar's troupe. the recordings are probably from around the time shankar's troupe toured the states in the late 1930's / early 1940's. all of the sides are amazing, but "tabla-taranga" is absolutely unbelievable! the liner notes say it "is almost a musical miracle"... and i think they might be right! it is played by vishnudass shirali while sitting in the center of 12 tablas each turned to a different pitch, playing with "the grace of seagulls on wing". it almost sounds like a string instrument and is totally from another world (i'll probably post the whole set on juju when i get back in town...)
click to listen to tabla-taranga
the last bit goes back to norway and one of my favorite writers... a quote from knut hamsun's a wanderer plays on muted strings:
"i stood for a long time upon the hillside, listening to the sough from heaven and earth; there was nothing else to be heard. then there might come a rustling sound, which would prove to be a shriveled, curled up leaf fluttering down through the frozen branches; it was like listening to a tiny fountain. then heaven and earth would sough again, a mildness enveloped me, as though all my strings were muted."