Sunday, January 01, 2006

Music To Start Off 2006

I've been cracking my head on how to spend a meaningful new year's eve this year for the past few days. Well, I could join the ranks of people who have nothing better to do and head down to Mount Faber for the biggest local countdown party, or go for my class outing, or join my group of friends who're having a small countdown party. Finally, I've decided to distance myself from the superficial mundanity of the world and focus on the things which are the most dear to me - God and music.

As for the music aspect, I've decided to start on a piece of music which I had always wanted to start but hadn't found time for it. Originally planned to choose some passionate Spanish dance music like the Danza from Manuel de Falla's one-act opera, La Vida Breve, but was browsing through my collection of CDs when I chanced upon the recording of Heitor Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1, 2, 5 & 9, conducted by the composer himself. The elegant and exquisite Aria (Cantilena) from his Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 caught my full attention and demands that I start on it at that very moment.

Heitor Villa-Lobos is a towering figure in the history of Brazilian music and in this series of music, as the title suggests, fused the soul of Brazil with the spirit of Bach, whom the composer had a deep respect for. This particular fine masterpiece is originally scored for a soprano and eight cellos. The soprano sings a hauntingly beautiful melody of without an identifiable form, remotely resembling the Air in Bach's Third Suite. In the central section, the soprano intones a poem about the charming beauty of twilight, supported by expressive chromatically descending chords. Such immensely expressive music never fails to warm a cold, desensitised heart.

In my sheet music collection, I have two versions of it, one rescored for a soprano and guitar by the composer himself and one rescored for a solo guitar by virtuoso French guitarist Roland Dyens. Shall start on the former as it gives me a better idea of the layers of the music and not to mention the fun of playing chamber music.

English translation of text:
In the evening a rosy cloud, slow and lustrous,
floats across the lovely dreaming sky.
In its infinity the moon gently rises,
glorifying the evening, like a tender girl
who dreamily decks and adorns herself,
longing in her soul to appear beautiful
and crying to heaven and earth, to all Nature!

The birds cease singing their sad laments
and the sea reflects all its riches...
Softly now the moonlight awaits
cruel memories of laughter and tears!
In the evening a rosy cloud, slow and lustrous,
floats across the lovely dreaming sky.

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