Is it really Halloween again? The month, like Scarbo the ‘half goblin, half ghost’ character from Gaspard de la Nuit, a poem and the third in a set of 3 extraordinary piano pieces by Maurice Ravel, has twitched, jerked and reared up and dropped down, pirouetting like a threatening demon (at least in terms of my nail-biting regarding the Stock Market and the US Presidential Campaign) and now is about to vanish:
Mais bientôt son corps bleuissait, diaphane comme la cire d’une bougie, son visage blémissait comme la cire d’un lumignon,—et soudain il s’éteignait.
But then, his body would change, became as blue and diaphanous as the wax of a candle, his face as pale as candle grease – and suddenly he would be extinguished.
– The original poem by Louis Bertrand
(The first few measures and an excerpt that goes on a little longer are below. It’s truly some of the most menacing and spooky music that Ravel ever wrote, I think, and appropriate for this dark evening):
He he he, creepy enough for you?
Earlier in the Month
I guess the piano music excerpt is partly because piano music is partly on my mind. Last week I got to a concert at the Chan Centre by Piotr Anderszewski, a very interesting pianist who was making his return engagement to the Vancouver Recital Society. He played Bach, Mozart and Schumann, and I’d have to say that it was the Mozart that I really liked best. Mozart Sonatas, like the Sonata in C minor, K 457 that he played are often played (badly) by children. Teachers give them to their students fairly early in their development, partly because the music seems simple and ‘easy’ to play. The fact is, when a really good pianist plays them, the music reveals how complex and really difficult it is. I didn’t always love what Anderszewski did; sometimes, particularly in the Schumann Humoresques (op. 20), he would take long floating pauses, and play some passages so softly and weakly that it was almost as if they were being whispered. Even if his readings seemed to lose the thread of continuity at times, I have to admit that he made me think — a lot, and that’s something that not every performer can do for you. I think we’ll be hearing more of him in the future on the international concert circuit. In some ways, he reminded me of Radu Lupu, a Romanian pianist who was particularly active in the 70s and 80s, and who won an Edison award for his Schumann (including the Humoresques as well!).
Pam and I got an invitation to attend another live filming of a television sitcom pilot, this time in the South Burnaby area in a studio right by the Riverway Golf Course. The pilot, called Memory Lanes and was produced and created for the CBC by one of the actors in it, Ryan Stiles, of The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line is it Anyway? fame. While it is fun to see, it is also a real education, because nearly every scene is filmed a few times, and it was a real pleasure to see Janet Wright, who plays Brent Butt’s mother Emma Leroy on the series Corner Gas practice her craft in person. Ms. Wright was a perfectionist, sculpting her delivery and gestures with each take, and always making it better (and funnier). For me, she stole every scene she was in. I found out from her bio that she’s directed over 40 productions at the Vancouver Arts Club theatre (in addition to work all over Canada, including the Stratford Festival). It shows. I hope I’ll get to see more of her; I really gained new respect for just how much a great actor can add to a sitcom character.
Oh right, the sitcom? Memory Lanes may make it to the CBC line up next year. I’d say it was a better than average script, and the characters and situation show some promise. In some ways, it reminded me of Wings, another sitcom that revolves around a pair of odd-couple brothers who end up running a family business. In the end, it will be the writing that makes or breaks it. Lets hope it gets a chance, something that never happened to the pilot of All the Comforts that we saw nearly a year ago.