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painted veil

 

À La Claire Fontaine

À la claire fontaine,
M’en allant promener
J’ai trouvé l’eau si belle
Que je m’y suis baigné

Refrain :
Il y a longtemps que je t’aime
Jamais je ne t’oublierai

Sous les feuilles d’un chêne,
Je me suis fait sécher
Sur la plus haute branche,
Un rossignol chantait

Refrain

Chante rossignol, chante,
Toi qui as le cœur gai
Tu as le cœur à rire,
Moi je l’ai à pleurer

Refrain

J’ai perdu mon amie,
Sans l’avoir mérité
Pour un bouquet de roses,
Que je lui refusai

Refrain

Je voudrais que la rose,
Fût encore au rosier
Et que ma douce amie
Fût encore à m’aimer
(autre version:
Et que le rosier même
À la mer fût jeté.)

RefrainChildren’s Song

(English)

At the clear fountain,
While I was strolling by,
I found the water so nice
That I went in to bathe.

Chorus
So long I’ve been loving you,
I will never forget you.

Under an oak tree,
I dried myself.
On the highest branch,
A nightingale was singing.

Chorus

Sing, nightingale, sing,
Your heart is so happy.
Your heart feels like laughing,
Mine feels like weeping.

Chorus

I lost my beloved,
Without deserving it,
For a bunch of roses,
That I denied her.

Chorus

I wanted the rose
To be still on the bush,
And my sweet beloved
To be still loving me.
(other version:
And even the rosebush
To be thrown in the sea.)

 

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Sitting Alone in Peace Before These Cliffs

moon before cliff

Sitting alone in peace before these cliffs
the full moon is heaven’s beacon
the ten thousand things are all reflections
the moon originally has no light
wide open, the spirit of itself is pure
hold fast to the void; realize its subtle mystery
look at the moon like this
this moon that is the heart’s pivot

Escorting the Moon
Hānshān Déqīng 1564-1623

I let my mind and body go and gained a life of freedom
my old age is taking place among ten thousand peaks
I don’t let white clouds leave the valley lightly
I escort the moon as far as my closed gate

Hǎo Suí Míngyuè

Shēn xīn fàngxia yǒuyú xián
Chuílǎo shēngyá zài mǎn shān
Bùxǔ báiyún qīng chū gǔ
Hǎo suí míngyuèhù chái guān

Translator: Red Pine-Bill Porter 赤松

cold_mountain_by_andy kunkle

Surprised by Autumn on the Fen
Su Ting 670-727

The North Wind blows white clouds
A thousand miles and across the Fen
The hopes of my heart shudder and fall
I can’t bear the sounds of autumn

Fén Shàng Jīng Qiū
Sū Tǐng 670-727

Běifēng chuī bái yún,
Wàn lǐ dù Fénhé.
Xīnxù féng yáo luò,
Qiū shēng bù kě wén.

Translator: Red Pine-Bill Porter 赤松

yandang mountains near wenzhou

The Zhongnan Mountains
Wang Wei 701-761

Taiyi isn’t far from the Heart of Heaven
Its ridges extend to the edge of the sea
White clouds form before your eyes
Blue vapors vanish in plain sight
Around its peaks the whole realm turns
In every valley the light looks different
In need of a place to spend the night
I yell to a wood cutter across the stream

Zhōngnán Shān
Wáng Wéi 701-761

Tàiyǐ jìn Tiāndū,
Lián shān dào hǎi yú.
Bái yún huí wàng hé,
Qīng ǎi rù kàn wú.
Fēn yě zhōng fēng biàn,
Yīn qíng zhòng hè shū.
Yù tóu rén chǔ sù,
Gé shuǐ wèn qiáofū.

Translator: Red Pine-Bill Porter 赤松

Hanshan (Chinese: 寒山; pinyin: Hánshān; literally: “Cold Mountain”, fl. 9th century) was a legendary figure associated with a collection of poems from the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the Taoist and Chan tradition. No one knows who he was, or when he lived and died. In the Buddhist tradition, Hanshan and his sidekick Shide are honored as emanations of the bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī and Samantabhadra, respectively. In Japanese and Chinese paintings, Hanshan is often depicted together with Shide or with Fenggan, another monk with legendary attributes.

In Lu Jiuyin’s (Wade–Giles: Lu Ch’iu-Yin) preface to Hanshan’s poems, he claims to have personally met both Hanshan and Shide at the kitchen of Guoqing Temple, but they responded to his salutations with laughter then fled. Afterwards, he attempted to give them clothing and provide them housing, but Lu Jiuyin writes that the pair fled into a cave which closed itself and Shide’s tracks disappeared. This led Lu Jiuyin, governor of Tai Prefecture, to collect Hanshan’s writings, “the poems written on bamboo, wood, stones, and cliffs — and also to collect those written on the walls of peoples’ houses.”[1] However, Burton Watson is of the opinion that Lu Jiuyin did not exist in reality and that his preface to Hanshan’s poems is nothing more than myth. In the introduction to his book, he says of Lu Jiuyin’s preface to the poems:[2]

[The preface], contrary to Chinese custom, is undated. Lu-chiu Yin represents himself as a high official and prefixes his name with a very imposing title. But there is only one mention of anyone by this name to be found in other works of the period, and it refers almost certainly to another person. This fact alone is peculiar enough, if Lu-chiu Yin was in fact as high up in the bureaucracy as his title indicates. Furthermore, the style of the preface, awkward and wordy, hardly suggests the writing of an eminent official. All other sources that tell us anything about Han-shan and Shih-te appear to be later than the preface and based upon it. For all we know, therefore, the whole picture of the two recluses built up in the preface may be nothing more than literary fiction. The poems, however, remain — over three hundred of them….If the reader wishes to know the biography of Han-shan, he must deduce it from the poems themselves.

If we follow Watson and discount the preface of Lu Jiuyin, accepting only the words of the poet himself, we see that Hanshan says only that he wrote his poems on the rocks. Nowhere in the poetry does he say that he wrote them on trees or bamboo or wood or the walls of people’s houses.[citation needed]

The collection of poems attributed to Hanshan may span the entire Tang Dynasty as Edwin G. Pulleyblank asserts in his study Linguistic Evidence for the Date of Hanshan.[3][page needed] He identifies him as the monk Zhiyan (智岩, 577–654), but that has been disputed by Paul Demiéville among others. The Encyclopedia of China gives his date as around 712 and after 793. Jia Jinhua came to the conclusion, after a study of Chan phrases in some 50 of the poems, that this particular group of poems may be attributable to the Chan monk Caoshan Benji (840–901). However, the dates for both Zhiyan and Caoshan Benji contradict Hanshan, who says that he was much older than either.

Translations
The poems have often been translated, by Arthur Waley (1954), Gary Snyder (1958), and Burton Watson (1970), among others. The first complete translation to a western language was into French by Patrick Carré (fr) in 1985. There are two full English translations, by Robert G. Henricks (1990), and Red Pine (Copper Canyon Press, 1983, 2000). There is a collection of 130 of the poems, Encounters With Cold Mountain, by Peter Stambler.[4] And there is a collection of 96 poems, Cold Mountain Transcendental Poetry, by Wandering Poet (2005, 2012).[5]

Little is known of his work, since he was a recluse living in a remote region and his poems were written on rocks in the mountains he called home. Of the 600 poems he is thought to have written at some point before his death, 313 were collected and have survived.[6] Among the 57 poems attributed to Hanshan’s friend, Shide,[6] seven appear to be authored by Hanshan, for a total of 320.[7]

All translations here are Red Pine’s, except where noted.

Hanshan’s poetry consists of Chinese verse, in 3, 5, or 7 character lines; never shorter than 4 lines, and never longer than 34 lines. The language is marked by the use of more colloquial Medieval Vernacular Sinitic than almost any other Tang poet.[9] The poems can be seen to fall into three categories: the biographical poems about his life before he arrived at Cold Mountain; the religious and political poems, generally critical of conventional wisdom and those who embrace it; and the transcendental poems, about his sojourn at Cold Mountain.[citation needed] They are notable for their straightforwardness, which contrasts sharply with the cleverness and intricateness that marked typical Tang Dynasty poetry.

Red Pine poem 283:

Mister Wang the Graduate
laughs at my poor prosody.
I don’t know a wasp’s waist
much less a crane’s knee.
I can’t keep my flat tones straight,
all my words come helter-skelter.
I laugh at the poems he writes-
a blind man’s songs about the sun!
(All these terms refer to ways a poem could be defective according to the rigid poetic structures then prevalent.)

Thematically, Hanshan draws heavily on Buddhist and Taoist themes, often remarking on life’s short and transient nature, and the necessity of escape through some sort of transcendence. He varies and expands on this theme, sometimes speaking of Mahayana Buddhism’s ‘Great Vehicle’, and other times of Taoist ways and symbols like cranes.

The following poem begins with the imagery of the burning house and the three carts from the Parable of the Burning House found in The Lotus Sutra, then ends with typical Zen and Taoist imagery of freedom from conceptualizations.

Red Pine poem 253:

Children, I implore you
get out of the burning house now.
Three carts await outside
to save you from a homeless life.
Relax in the village square
before the sky, everything’s empty.
No direction is better or worse,
East just as good as West.
Those who know the meaning of this
are free to go where they want.

This mixed influence is probably due to the high preponderance of Taoists and Buddhists in the same area. The eminent Taoist Ge Hong acclaimed Mount Tiantai as ‘the perfect place for practicing the arts of immortality,’ which is probably also why so many Buddhist temples were established in the vicinity as well.

Red Pine poem 13:

“Brothers share five districts;
father and sons three states.”
To learn where the wild ducks fly
follow the white-hare banner!
Find a magic melon in your dream!
Steal a sacred orange from the palace!
Far away from your native land
swim with fish in a stream!

Many poems display a deep concern for humanity, which in his view stubbornly refuses to look ahead, and short-sightedly indulges in all manner of vice, like eating animal flesh, piling up sins ‘high as Mount Sumeru’. But he holds out hope that people may yet be saved; ‘Just the other day/ a demon became a Bodhisattva.’

Red Pine poem 18:

I spur my horse past ruins;
ruins move a traveler’s heart.
The old parapets high and low
the ancient graves great and small,
the shuddering shadow of a tumbleweed,
the steady sound of giant trees.
But what I lament are the common bones
unnamed in the records of immortals.

cold mountain huangshan-pine

While Hanshan eschewed fancy techniques and obscure erudition, his poems are still highly evocative at times:

Red Pine poem 106:

The layered bloom of hills and streams
Kingfisher shades beneath rose-colored clouds
mountain mists soak my cotton bandanna,
dew penetrates my palm-bark coat.
On my feet are traveling shoes,
my hand holds an old vine staff.
Again I gaze beyond the dusty world-
what more could I want in that land of dreams?

He is hard to pin down religiously. Chan concepts and terminology sometimes appear in his work. But he criticized the Buddhists at Tiantai, and he directed criticism at Taoists as well, having had no problem bringing Taoist scriptural quotations, and Taoist language when describing his mountains, into his poems. Yet, he does not mince words, but tells us precisely where to find the path to Heaven.

Red Pine poem 117:

I deplore this vulgar place
where demons dwell with worthies.
They say they’re the same,
but is the Tao impartial?
A fox might ape a lion’s mien
and claim the disguise is real,
but once ore enters the furnace,
we soon see if it’s gold or base.

Red Pine poem 246:

I recently hiked to a temple in the clouds
and met some Taoist priests.
Their star caps and moon caps askew
they explained they lived in the wild.
I asked them the art of transcendence;
they said it was beyond compare,
and called it the peerless power.
The elixir meanwhile was the secret of the gods
and that they were waiting for a crane at death,
or some said they’d ride off on a fish.
Afterwards I thought this through
and concluded they were all fools.
Look at an arrow shot into the sky-
how quickly it falls back to earth.
Even if they could become immortals,
they would be like cemetery ghosts.
Meanwhile the moon of our mind shines bright.
How can phenomena compare?
As for the key to immortality,
within ourselves is the chief of spirits.
Don’t follow Lords of the Yellow Turban
persisting in idiocy, holding onto doubts.

cold mountain border of thailand and china

The following poem is attributed to Hanshan’s friend, Shide.

The higher the trail the steeper it grows
Ten thousand tiers of dangerous cliffs
The stone bridge is slippery with green moss
Cloud after cloud keeps flying by
Waterfalls hang like ribbons of silk
The moon shines down on a bright pool
I climb the highest peak once more
To wait where the lone crane flies

HanShan lived hermit-like on ‘Cold Mountain’ (Mount Tiantai, Zhejiang province) sometime in the 8th or 9th century CE.  Although not a monk, he was influenced by Chan Buddhism and Taoism, using much of their thematic imagery and language, writing his poems on the trees and rocks and cliff faces of his mountain retreat.  He sometimes criticized those eminent religions as well, and so his poetry speaks from a highly discrete personal conviction.  He seems simply to have been himself.

Since I came to Cold Mountain,
how many thousand years have passed?
Accepting my fate I fled to the woods
to dwell and gaze in freedom.
No one visits the cliffs,
forever hidden by clouds.
Soft grass serves as a mattress;
my quilt is the dark blue sky;
a boulder makes a fine pillow.
Heaven and Earth can crumble and change.

                                                            tr. Red Pine

Children, I implore you:
get out of the burning house now!
Three carts await outside
to save you from a homeless life.
Relax in the village square
before the sky; everything’s empty.
No direction is better or worse –
East just as good as West.
Those who know the meaning of this
are free to go where they want.

                                                            tr. Red Pine

The layered bloom of hills and streams
Kingfisher shades, beneath rose-colored clouds:
mountain mists soak my cotton bandanna;
dew penetrates my palm-bark coat.
On my feet are traveling shoes;
my hand holds an old vine staff.
Again I gaze beyond the dusty world-
what more could I want in that land of dreams?

                                                            tr. Red Pine

In my first thirty years of life

I roamed hundreds and thousands of miles,

walked by rivers through deep green grass,

entered cities of boiling red dust,

tried drugs, but couldn’t make Immortal,

read books and wrote poems on history.

Today I’m back at Cold Mountain:

I’ll sleep by the creek and purify my ears.

                                                            tr. Gary Snyder

Cold Mountain is a house

without beans or walls.

The six doors left and right are open;

the hall is sky blue.

The rooms all vacant and vague –

the east wall beats on the west wall,

at the center nothing.

Borrowers don’t bother me;

in the cold I build a little fire.

When I’m hungry I boil up some greens.

I’ve got no use for the kulak

with his big barn and pasture –

he just sets up a prison for himself.

Once in he can’t get out.

Think it over –

you know it might happen to you.

                                                            tr. Gary Snyder

Robin and Linda Williams with Garrison Keillor and Richie Gorski on the synthesizer…

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Across the Blue Mountains

One morning, one morning, one morning in May
I heard a married man to a young girl say
“Go dress you up, Pretty Katie, and come go with me
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny.

“I’ll buy you a horse, love, and saddle to ride
I’ll buy myself another to ride by your side
We’ll stop at every tavern we’ll drink when we’re dry
Across the Blue Mountains go my Katie and I

“Well, up spoke her mother, and angry was she then
“Sayin’ daughter, oh dear daughter, he’s a married man
And there’s young men aplenty more handsome than he
Let him take his own wife to the Allegheny”

“Oh mother, oh mother, he’s the man of my heart
And wouldn’t it be a dreadful thing if we should have to part
I’d envy every woman who I’d ever see
Go ‘cross the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny”

(Well the last time I saw him, he was saddled to ride
With Katie, his darling, right there by his side
A laughing and a singing and thankful to be free
To cross the Blue Mountain to the Allegheny)

We left before daybreak on a buckskin and roan
Past tall shivering pines where mockingbirds moan
Past dark cabin windows where eyes never see
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny

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southfork

Past dark cabin windows where eyes never see
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny

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river rock collection spot near harrisonburg

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cheatmountainwestvirginia

 

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appalachian-trail-

My last travel in life with my husband was across these mountains to a new home together.

It lasted for another twenty-five years.  I am so glad we made the trip and took the chance.

We did it about the same time that this recording was made and I much remember going with him to hear Robin and Linda sing together in a lovely Virginia venue.

One of our many cherished memories.

Most of these photos were taken on our travels through the Allegheny Mountains and through the Shenandoah River area which is also captured here.  The first photo were taken in the Allegheny mountains in May and the two river pictures were taken of the Shenandoah, also in May.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in me, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me,
Christ with me.

 

 

Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine secundum verbum tuum in pace
quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum
lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuae Israhel

 

 

De profundis clamavi ad te Domine: Domine exaudi vocem meam. Fiant aures tuae intendentes in vocem deprecationis meae. Si iniquitates observaveris Domine: Domine quis sustinebit. Quia apud te propitiatio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te Domine. Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: speravit anima mea in Domino. A custodia matutina usque ad noctem, speret Israel in Domino. Quia apud Dominum misericordia: et copiosa apud eum redemptio. Et Ipse redimet Israel ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord:  Lord, hear my voice. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.  If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it.  For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord. My soul hath relied on his word.

 

Arvo Pärt: one of a select few who make their living solely through composition

My first encounter with Arvo Pärt’s music is indelibly etched on my consciousness. My piano teacher – the late Susan Bradshaw – placed a piece in front of me which, from a visual point of view alone, was immediately intriguing. Consisting of just two pages, what was most striking about the music was its utter simplicity: there was no time signature; no changes of tempo, key or dynamics; no textural variation. Playing through this quiet piano miniature I was dumbstruck by its crystalline beauty. The piece was Pärt’s Für Alina. I was hooked.

This was 25 years ago when I was an  undergraduate at Goldsmiths, University of London. Pärt at that time was virtually unknown in the West. Since then, he has become one of the most widely performed, recorded and fêted contemporary composers, one of a select few who make their living solely through composition.

The difficulty that Simon Broughton faced when trying to get Pärt to talk about his music on camera chimes entirely with my own experience when I came to write my PhD on the composer. I had the good fortune of meeting Pärt several times during my research, including the slightly terrifying experience of giving a paper on his Credo in the composer’s presence at the Royal Academy of Music. One particularly memorable afternoon was spent with Arvo and his wife, Nora, at the Orthodox Monastery of St John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex (the Pärts owned a property a short drive away). While Pärt was perfectly happy to answer my questions about his work list, which pieces had been withdrawn for revision, and so on, he responded to questions about his music by giving me Archimandrite Sophrony’s weighty hardback tome, Saint Silouan the Athonite. “If you want to understand my music,” he told me, “read this.” The music, you inferred, must speak for itself.

Born on 11 September 1935 in Paide, Estonia, Pärt studied composition at the Tallinn Conservatory under the influential teacher Heino Eller. Although best known for the works he has composed since the unveiling of the “tintinnabuli” style, announced in 1976 by Für Alina, Pärt had already become something of an enfant terrible in Soviet musical circles during the 1960s. The darkly expressive orchestral piece Nekrolog (1960),  Pärt’s first mature work, caused a scandal by being the first Estonian work to employ serialism, incurring the wrath of no less a person than the all-powerful head of the Soviet Composers’ Union, Tikhon Khrennikov. Not a man to be trifled with.

Using other avant-garde techniques such as pointillism and aleatoricism, Pärt wrote further experimental works including Perpetuum Mobile (1963), Symphony No 1 (1964), Diagrams (1964) and Musica Sillabica (1964) in which extremes of dynamics and texture at times reach cumulative points of such intensity that the music seems to be on the verge of complete collapse.

Becoming dissatisfied with serial technique, Pärt searched for another means of furthering his musical development, resulting in his use of “borrowed” tonal gestures and the adoption of baroque and classical forms, such as the comic finality of the musical catch phrase which brings Quintettino (1964) to an ambivalent conclusion; the grotesque distortion of Bach’s Sarabande from English Suite No 6 in the central movement of Collage on B-A-C-H (1964); and the ironic cadenza and grandiloquent tonal conclusion of the cello concerto Pro et Contra (1966).

The remarkable Credo (1968), which represented both the culmination of his early style and the first work in which he set a religious text, is a pivotal work in Pärt’s output. Scored for piano, chorus and orchestra, the two outer sections are based on a pristine C major tonality –  specifically the C major Prelude from Book I of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier – while the central triptych journeys into chaos and a wild, improvised climax. An exhilarating cri de coeur of a piece, the composer’s musical affirmation of faith (“Credo in Jesum Christum”) ensured that the work was banned in the Soviet Union following its first performance.

Following Credo, Pärt reached a creative impasse and underwent a dramatic reorientation of style. The impulse for this change was twofold, springing on the one hand from an inner musical necessity brought about by his encounter with plainchant and other early music, and on the other by his gradual religious awakening (originally Lutheran, Pärt converted to the Russian Orthodox Church). Rather than appropriate the stylistic conventions of past composers, his compositional concerns now became directed towards a very specific goal: the setting of religious texts. It was no longer enough to simply import tonality by wearing a Bachian stylistic mask as he had done in Credo.

The surprising richness of the work’s closingGratiarum Actio is one of the most transcendent passages of 20th-century sacred music

While the techniques and processes of early music have proved to be a continuing source of fascination and inspiration for many contemporary composers – Louis Andriessen, Peter Maxwell Davies and Steve Reich all readily spring to mind – no other composer has made such a profound study of this music, and with such fruitful results, as Pärt. Aside from the importance of specific models from early music, Pärt’s in-depth exploration compelled him to rebuild his musical language from scratch. Anything that had no properly audible, as opposed to merely textural, purpose no longer had a place in his work.

Tabula Rasa. Cartoon portrait by Heinz Valg (1978) 

048Tabula_Rasa_ZeichnungTo uncover what he considered to be the startling power of unadorned melody, Pärt wrote reams of technical exercises using just a single line of music. Apart from its innate inner strength, what impressed the composer most about plainchant was its cohesiveness, its clarity and its flexibility. From working with just a single line of music, Pärt then began to investigate the potential of using two voices, before intuitively discovering the simple two-part unit that was to become the basis of the tintinnabuli style: a generally step-wise melodic line accompanied by a triadic or “tintinnabuli” harmony (tintinnabulum literally means “small bell”). Subtly varied from work to work – the composer determining the rules of the game for each piece – the tintinnabuli style has proved extremely flexible.

An outpouring of works followed in 1977 – something of anannus mirabilis for Pärt – including three of the most enduring works of the new style: the seemingly endless melodic descents of Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten; the punctilious melodic elaborations of the double violin concertoTabula Rasa; and the startling gesturelessness of Fratres.

The most perfect realisation of the tintinnabuli style came with the St John Passion (1977-82). Wishing to act merely as a vessel for the music, Pärt decided from the very beginning that the Passion text would yield the entire substance of the work. Setting the text syllabically throughout, every single phrase structure, note value and caesura between phrases is governed entirely by the punctuation of the text. The result is a work of profound restraint, at once both detached and deeply affecting. The surprising richness of the work’s closing Gratiarum Actio – a final offering of praise and thanks which is heard in its entirety in the forthcoming episode ofSacred Music – is one of the most transcendent passages of 20th-century sacred music.

From the troubled angst of Credo to the celestial atemporality of the St John Passion, Pärt’s has been one of contemporary music’s most fascinating journeys

Pärt has remarked that it is the nature of the language being set that predetermines to a remarkable degree the specific character of each vocal piece. From working predominantly with Latin texts, his many commissions have seen him setting Italian in Dopo la vittoria (1996), Spanish in the psalm setting Como cierva sedienta (1998), and numerous settings in English. The latter include the stylised invocations and responses of Litany (1994), a return to St John’s Gospel for I Am the True Vine (1996), and The Deer’s Cry (2007), a setting in English of St Patrick’s Breastplate (“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me…”). Of especial significance is Pärt’s setting of Church Slavonic, a language used exclusively in ecclesiastical texts, in the imposing Kanon Pokajanen (1997). As evidenced by the extract of the piece heard in Sacred Music, its sound-world appears to place it within the illustrious tradition of Russian Orthodox Church music. What all of these works vividly illustrate is the way in which the tintinnabuli style can absorb new textural and harmonic approaches.

From the troubled angst of Credo to the celestial atemporality of the St John Passion, Pärt’s has been one of contemporary music’s most fascinating journeys.

Three essential recordings

Pärt’s music has been incredibly well served on disc, notably by ECM New Series, to the extent that his ever-increasing discography has become difficult to keep up with. The following three recordings, however, are essential.

Tabula Rasa (ECM New Series)
Three purely instrumental classics of the tintinnabuli style: FratresCantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten and Tabula RasaFind on Amazon

Passio (ECM New Series)
Pärt’s austere masterpiece, conducted by one of his foremost interpreters, Paul Hillier. Find on Amazon

Kanon Pokajanen (ECM New Series)
A stunning performance of the Canon of Repentance by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Find on Amazon

 

 

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North
This Country your Valour, this Country is yours
Farewell to the mountains high cover’d with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer –
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the Forrests and wild-hanging woods;
Farwell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

 

red_deerstag  isle of mull

 

 

 

 

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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July 2020
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Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory