Archives for category: Classical


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This sound work is a first person narrative about a supernatural figure that appears on a ferry in the Greek islands and inhabits the bodies of sleeping tourists. By dissolving into a cloud of fog which envelopes the boat the protagonist possesses their bodies and travels back in time. The work combines traditional horror tropes and art historical references with a satirical tale of hyper-consumerism.

The work which was written and read by Richard Evans was made by recording cellist David Barbenel improvising to the story being played through headphones. The improvisations were cut into parts, looped and set against a soundscape of samples and field recordings.

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…Do you despair?

Yes? You despair?

You run away? You want to hide?…November 3. This morning, for the first time in a long time,

the joy again of imagining a knife twisted in my heart…

… The onlookers go rigid when the train goes past…

…In the newspapers, in conversation, in the office, the impetuosity of language often leads one astray, also the hope, springing from temporary weakness, for a sudden and stronger illumination in the very next moment, also mere strong self confidence, or mere carelessness, or a great present impression that one wishes at any cost to shift into the future, also the opinion that true enthusiasm in the present justifies any future confusion, also delight in sentences that are elevated in the middle by one or two jolts and open the mouth gradually to its full size even of they let it close much too quickly and tortuously, also the the slight possibility of a decisive and clear judgement, or the effort to give further flow to the speech that has already ended, also the desire to escape from the subject in a hurry, one’s belly if it must be, or despair that seeks a way out for its heavy breath, or the longing for a light without shadow- all this can lead one astray…

…To be pulled in through the ground-floor window of a house by a rope tied around one’s neck and to be yanked up, bloody and ragged, through all the ceilings, furniture, walls and attics, without consideration, as if by a person who is paying no attention, until the empty noose, dropping the last fragments of me when it breaks through the roof tiles, is seen on the roof…

…I fell asleep in the underbrush. A noise awakened me. I found in my hands a book in which I had previously been reading. I threw it away and sprang up. It was shortly after midday; in front of the hill on which I stood there lay spread out a great lowland with villages and trees and ponds and uniformly shaped, tall, reed-like hedges between them. I put my hands on my hips, and at the same time listened to the noise…

…I can’t understand it and can’t believe it. I live only here and there in a small word in whose vowel (“thrust” above, for instance) I lose my useless head for a moment. The first and last letters are the beginning and end of my fishlike emotion…

…I occupied myself chiefly with the whore whose head was hanging down, Max with the one lying beside her on the left. I fingered her legs and then for a long time pressed the upper parts of her thighs in regular rythem. My pleasure in this was so great that I wondered. That for this entertainment, which was after all really the most beautiful kind, one still, had to pay nothing. I was convinced that I (and I alone) deceived the world. Then the whore, without moving her legs, raised the upper part of her body and turned her back to me, which to my horror was covered with large sealing-wax-red circles with paling edges and red splashes scattered among them. I now noticed that her whole body was full of them, that I was pressing my thumb to her thighs in just such spots there were these little red particles -as though from a crumbled seal- on my fingers too…

…The millionaire in the motion picture “Slaves of Gold.” Mustn’t forget him. The calmness, the slow movement, conscious of its goal, a faster step when necessary, a shrug of the shoulder. Rich, spoiled, lulled to sleep, but how he springs up like a servant and searches the room into which he was locked in the forest tavern…

…December 4. Viewed from the outside it is terrible for a young but mature person to die, or worse, to kill himself. Hopelessly to depart in a complete confusion that would make sense only within a further development, or with the sole hope that in the great account this appearance in life will be considered as not having taken place. Such would be my plight now. To die would mean nothing else than to surrender a nothing to the nothing, but that would be impossible to conceive, for how could a person, even only as a nothing, consciously surrender himself to the nothing, and not merely to an empty nothing but rather to a roaring nothing whose nothingness consists only in its incomprehensibility…

…10 o’clock, November 15. I will not let myself become tired. I’ll jump into my story even though it should cut my face to pieces…

…In the bank I immediately telephone Bohemia. I want to give them the story for publication. But I can’t get a good connection. Do you know why? The office of the Tagblatt is pretty close to the telephone exchange, so from the Tagblatt it’s easy for them to control the connections as they please, to hold them up or put them through. And as a matter of fact, I keep hearing indistinct whispering voices on the telephone, obviously the editors of the Tagblatt. They have of course, a good deal of interest in not letting this call go through. Then I fear (naturally very distinctly) some of them persuading the operator not to put the call through, while others are already connected with Bohemia and are trying to keep them from listening to my story. “Operator,” I shout into the telephone, “if you don’t put this call through at once, I’ll complain to the management.” My colleagues all around me in the bank laugh when they hear me talking to the operator so violently. Finally I get my party. “Let me talk to Editor Kisch. I have an extremely important piece of news for Bohemia. If you don’t take it, I’ll give it to another paper at once. It’s high time.” But since Kisch is not there I hang up without revealing anything…

…The broom sweeping the rug in the next room sounds like the train of a dress moving in jerks…

…These predictions, this imitating of models, this fear of something definite, is ridiculous. These are constructions that even in the imagination, where they alone in sovereign, only approach the living surface but then are always suddenly driven under. Who has the magic hand to thrust into the machinery without its being torn to pieces and scattered by a thousand knives?…

…The anxiety I suffer from all sides. The examination by the doctor, the way he presses forward against me, I virtually empty myself out and he makes his empty speeches into me, despised and unrefuted…

…The tremendous world I have in my head. But how free myself and free it without being torn to pieces. And a thousand times rather be torn to pieces than retain it in me or bury it. That, indeed, is why I am here, that is quite clear to me…

…I’ll write down all the relationships which have become clear to me in the story as far as I now remember them. This is necessary because the story came out of me like a real birth, covered with filth and slime, and only I have the hand that can reach to the body itself and the strength of the desire to do so…

…I , only I, am the spectator in the orchestra…

Franz Kafka, Diaries 1910-1913,” 1965

All words by Franz Kafka – All music by György Kurtag

May. The Feeling. – Scene at the Station : October 9. I occupied myself – Adagio, Con Slancio, Risiluto, Jelek (Signs) III : July 9. The invention of the devil – Hommage à Domenico Scarlatti : July 6. Began a little – Triosonata in E-Flat Major, BWV 525: No. I : July 21. Don’t Despair – Thistle : May. His gravity – Hommage à Christian Wolff (Half-asleep) – July 9. Nothing written – Furious Chorale : November 14. It seems so dreadful – Study to “Hölderlin” – February 27. In the bank – The Carenza : October 30. This craving – Vivo – 24 Mins

Image – ‘Brod,’ college by Richard Evans, paper, guitar string, wax, nail, 2011

 

16. Liturgical texts and Prayers, illuminated manuscript on vellum with Hippopotamus skin binding.

(Ethiopia, 15th century)

DESCRIPTION

122 leaves, (leaf size approximately 250 x 180 mm), in gatherings from 6 leaves to 12 leaves, 1 leaf (f.115) loose. Text varying between 20 and 34 lines, 2 columns throughout, written in black ink with titles, subheadings, sacred names, numerals, etc., in red (addition of f.85v col. 2, in a large hand in red). Written throughout in various beautiful, bold, archaic hands ranging in size from av. 4 mm to av. 6 mm. Some erasures and corrections and insertions in a smaller but equally archaic hand. Original pricking and ruling mostly visible throughout. Some intercolumnar ornament in red and black. NINE ILLUMINATED HEAD PIECES + 2 small ornaments dividing the paragraphs, all variously coloured in red, yellow, black green and blue-grey. TWENTY FULL COLOUR MINIATURES, 3 with silk overlays, 4 black pages. Some wear and darkening of edges. Most of the miniatures have some damage. The paint has sometimes cracked and there is some offsetting from facing pages. the margins of some leaves have been trimmed off in order to utilise the parchment for amulets, charms and notes of contact.

PROVENANCE AND DATE

SIGNED BY THE ARTIST. There is a collophon in the manuscript, on f.105v, which states, ‘This book belongs to Walda Mika’el and his father S’agga Za’ab and his mother S’eyon Kerbra. Walda Rufa’el painted the book.’ Walada Ruda’el’s name is also inserted in an invocation for blessing on folio 110v. The dating of early Ethiopian manuscripts is notoriously problematic. the form of the script, showing a number of archaic letter shapes, points to an early date and the style of the illumination is that of the earliest surviving Ethiopian manuscript.  This places it before the Moslem invasion at the beginning of the 16th century. Two of the Saints portrayed in the miniatures however suggest a date after the middle of the 15th century. ‘Saint’ Gabra Krestos, folio 106v, lived during the reign of the Emperor Zar Jacob (1434-68) and the Abba Sincoda, folio 107, was executed during the 1430s. It is unlikely that they would have been the subject of miniatures until after death.

TEXT

The manuscript properly begins on folio 9, the first 8 leaves being misplaced from the end. The contents are:

ff.10-60 Book of Hours of the day and the night. Subsections are identified as follows. (f.20) prayers for the third hour; (f.23) prayers for the seventh hour; (f.26) prayers for the ninth hour; (f.29) prayers for the evening; (f.33) prayers for sleepl (f.39) prayers for midnight.

ff.62-85 conatins various prayers: (f.62) Prayer for the Consolation of the Faith as we believe in Mary’; (f.65r) ‘Prayer for All Time(s)’; (f.69v) ‘Prayer for mercy’; (74r) ‘Prayer for Midnight’; (f.75v) ‘Prayer to the King of Praise’; (f.81v) ‘Prayer and Vow for the Forgiveness of Sin’; (f.85r) ‘Prayer and Praise of the Divinity an Vow to the King of Praise’; (f.85v) The ten Commandments (in red).

ff 87-105 contains liturgical texts and hymns: (f.87) ‘Hymn to Our Lord Jesus Christ which is to be read on Sunday before the Weddase maryam (Praise to mary)’; (f.94r) ‘Prayer for Monday’; (f.95r) ‘Prayer for Tuesday; (f.97r) ‘prayer for Wednesday’; (99r) ‘Prayer for Thursday’; (f.102v) ‘Praise for Friday’.

ff108 contains the Gospel of St.John. there is however a break of a page between the two blocks of text.

ILLUMINATION

This manuscript is an exmple of the earlist geometric style of Ethiopian illumination. Although Christianity arrived in the country in the 4th century, no paintings or manuscripts can be formally dated before the late 13th or early 14 centuries. The few examples that survive from the 14th or 15th centuries are broadly similar in style, with forms and iconography stemming from Byzantine and Syrian painting. the Chief charecteristics of this style are strong frontal figures articulated by geometric backgrounds.

Lot. 15 £50,000

Text and Image – Bloomsbury Auctions“Antiquarian Books & Ancient Manuscripts,” Catalogue 12, 1989

Durme, Hermosa Donzella – Jordi Savall : Lunissanti, Miserere – Enzo Favata : Symphony No.3, II Lento e largo, Tranquillissimo – Gorecki : In Darkness Let Me Dwell – John Downland : Il Prologo: Alba – Gianluigi Trovesi : Rite Of Passage A – Meredith Monk : Dos Kelbl (The Little Calf) – Iva Bittova : Da Pacem Domine – Arvo Part : Viderunt omnes – Perotin : Mothertongue: IV. Monster – Nico Muly : Mieke’s Melody #5 – Meredith Monk : Jolson and Jones – Scott Walker : Quatuor pour Cora, Dance of the Vampires – Iva Bittova – 65 Mins

 

17. “What about that black violin?” Johannes asked him the third evening. “What’s interesting about that?”

Erasmus looked up and paled slightly.

“That violin? If I were you I wouldn’t even touch one of its strings.”

“Why? Is it so bad that it’s not worth playing?”

“Quite the opposite! It’s the most extraordinary instrument I’ve ever come across. A mere breath is enough to set it vibrating. But the music it makes is so strange, that to hear it once is to be changed forever. It is like taking a draught of pure happiness. Once you have tasted it, you are never the same again. Playing the black violin like that, too.”

“Have you ever played it?”

“Only once. A long time ago. I haven’t touched it since. It is like love. When you have been in love-and I’m talking here about true love-it is something you can never forget. There is nothing worse than having been truly happy once in your life. From that moment on, everything makes you sad, even the most insignificant things.”

39. I was standing in front of my workbench when the idea first hit me. Why not make a violin that was just like Carla? If I wanted to reproduce her voice, I should start by taking the inspiration from her body. I would have to make a violin that caught the black of her eyes and the color of her hair. I remembered that somewhere on one of the dusty shelves in the library I had come across a small treatise, written by Antonio Stradivari himself, which explained how to make a violin made almost entirely from ebony. When I found it, I was glad to discover that among other things, the treatise contained a secret recipe for a black varnish, a varnish that I had not used before. Encouraged by my findings, I went back to work.

The shaping of the instrument’s body and sound box was no simple matter. Ebony is an extremely hard wood, and to work it requires both strength and great care. Assembling all the pieces was no easy task either, but finally, after many patient hours, I succeeded. Then came the varnishing, which took me another few weeks of painstaking work.

Two months later, the black violin was finished. The last coat of varnish had dried, and the time had come to see how it sounded. That night there was a storm. The lightning lit up the sky.

I picked up the violin and ran my finger over the surface of the varnish. As I did so, the wood started singing. This was no ordinary violin.

The bow glided over the cords as gently as a feather settling on a ripple of water. The sound grew, and swelled: like a woman’s voice. Like the voice of a soprano.

I stopped playing, almost bursting with happiness, for I knew I had finally made my dream come true.

That night, I played the black violin, and I played in a way I had never played any other instrument before. It was like holding Carla in my arms.

40. A few days later, I returned to Venice. It was the time they call the acqua alta, when the waters of the lagoon had risen and some of the tiny streets were completely flooded. And yet I felt unmoved by this sad landscape. I was so eager to see Carla again and to show her the black violin.

The Ferenzi Palace appeared to be sinking into the water of the Grand Canal. Since the quay was under water, I moored my gondola to the bars of a window. Waves rimmed with green algae were lapping at the steps.

To my surprise it was not the butler who opened the door, but Count Ferenzi himself I was shocked by his appearance, for his cheeks were hollow, his eyes were glazed, and his skin had a waxy look to it. He had aged terribly, and seemed to be weighed down by grief. ”Ah, Erasmus,” he said, “so good to see you. Perhaps you will be able to help us.” “Why, what has happened? Are you unwell?” He took a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed at his forehead. “No, no. I’m fine,” he said, and then, in a whisper, “it’s Carla.” “Carla? What’s happened to her?” ”Ah, if only I knew. She’s been taken ill. She has been in bed for the last ten days.” “Can I see her?” Without waiting for an answer, I went in and ran up the stairs. As I opened the door I saw her lying in bed, looking pale and wan. She was clearly very ill. I went over to see her.

“Carla,” I whispered, “what’s the matter?” She turned her head slowly toward me and I could see from the expression in her eyes that she was in great pain. “Look, I’ve brought the violin I promised you. Listen what a wonderful sound it has!”

But as soon as I touched the strings, Carla looked horrified. Her eyes widened, and she grabbed my arm, imploring me to stop.

“It’s terrible,” said the Count, arriving in the room behind me. “My daughter has a high fever, and the doctors have no idea what is the matter with her. The poor child has been fighting between life and death for more than a week now. ”

I looked at Carla, lying on the bed, her face the very picture of sadness.

“And the most terrible thing of all,” said Ferenzi, “is that since the night she first became ill, she has lost her voice completely!”

I felt the ground slipping away beneath me and had to steady myself against the bedpost to stop myself from fainting.

“What’s the matter?” asked Ferenzi. “Nothing,” I said. “I just feel a little tired, that’s all.” I looked at Carla and could see that she was crying.

Maxence Fermine,The Black Violin,” 2000

Music box intro : Musica Ricerta IIGyorgy Ligeti : Nicoles Dream – Sample : La Petite Messe Solennelle. I. Kyrie – Rossini : O Venezia, Venga, Venusia – Nino Rota : Through the Streets of Venice – Pino Donaggio : Venetian Church bells : Those two girls : Stormy Weather – Lena Horne : Wind : Strange Happenings – Pino Donaggio : Symphony No.5 Adagietto – Mahler : Le Petit Nicolas – Gabriel Yared : I Only Have Eyes for You – The Flamingos : Stillness Of The Mind – Abel Korzeniowski : O Belta Rara, O Santi Modi Adorni – Gabrieli Madrigals : Tom’s farwell : Farewell Theme – Eleni Karaindrou : Crash – 55 Mins

Image -Cover of The Ravished Image Or How To Ruin Masterpieces by Restoration by Sarah Walden