Hellish Jarring SoundsMonday, August 06, 2007
In 1965 I was madly in love. The intensity was more so as the young woman I had fallen for was leaving Buenos Aires for London. It was a curious (and less dramatic) reverse of the man in uniform (Argentine navy) and separation. I was to stay, with no war in sight, and she was going to London to study art. The day arrived complete with a tearful parting at the ship's gangplank and that final wave of my arm as the ship faded in the horizon. I went home and played Miles Davis Kind of Blue. I have always thought that pursuing depression with the help of music can be an exquisite experience. Perhaps the experience empties us and gives us the capacity for joy again.
In that respect I can understand the melancholy streak of John Dowland's (1563-1623) music as we (Abraham Rogatnick, Graham Walker, Rebecca Stewart and I) listened to La Cetra, David Douglass, Paul O'Dette and Helen Hargis in last night's performance of "Fine Knacks for Ladies": Courtly Songs & Dances of John Dowland.
The venue was the intimate UBC Recital Hall, a place where Rebecca (she was 5 then) and I first saw David Douglass (at the time he was wearing his ubiquitous and favourite blue silk shirt) and noted that he rested his baroque violin, not near his chin, but by his heart. We also noted that in this position he moved very much like a dolphin in water. His wife Helen Hargis had a sweet soprano that could switch from joy to passion and from passion to despair. Whenever either of them come to Vancouver Rebecca and I sit on the first row. And so it was last night.
The evening had a happy beginning. Abraham drove us to the concert. He has a blanket permission (for life, as en ex professor of architecture ) to park anywhere at UBC and his secret parking spot was but a few yards from the concert hall.
But the beautiful (and so intimate) concert went from more or less sad to a second part called The Mask of Despair where Hargis's face twisted into an intense sadness that it was Kind of Blue all over again.
Looking at Rebecca and listening to the lyrics:
In darkness let me dwell, the ground shall sorrow be;
The roof despair to bar all cheerful light from me;
The walls of marble black, that moistened still shall weep;
My music hellish jarring sounds to banish friendly sleep.
Thus wedded to my woes, and bedded to my tomb,
O let me living die, till death, till death do come.
I felt happy in a melancholy way. But then little girls know better. In the back seat home, Rebecca happily sang:
99 bottles of beer on the wall.....
And the moment was past.