“Immersion into a world without outlines, without horizons” – a note by myself to myself I scribbled down when I contemplated Claude Monet’s masterwork series “Nymphéas” (waterlilies). I had seen these vast paintings for the first time as a student while I visited Paris, some 25 years ago. I’ve seen them again a few months ago, when I took my daughter to the Musée de l’Orangerie to see one of my favourite works of my favourite painter. At the beginning of the 20th century, the French Impressionist painter painted some 250 works with the lilies he had in his garden in Giverny as the central theme.
Something new, definitely. A premiere for me. Interesting, stimulating. It made me reflect my expectations. It immediately connected to my emotions. I felt there was a message, but initially I saw only the outlines, the details needed time to become visible. A piece growing organically out of itself. Harsh contrasts, gentle melodies, progression… Henri Dutilleux’ orchestral piece “Métaboles”, that I heard yesterday at the Philharmonie de Luxembourg, was a pleasant surprise.
Children made this piece of art. It immediately caught my attention. Cones painted in dazzling colours. The contrast between natural and artificial. Here’s a piece of music that has such contrasts too. And it retained my attention for a much longer time span than those cones, even if they get an honorary mention on this blog: Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor (L. 135), written by Claude Debussy and recorded by Sol Gabetta and Hélène Grimaud. Brace yourself, for you are in for a wild ride through the realm of chords and harmonies.
A prayer or rather an incantation. Maurice Ravel on a Japan inspired rave? At the turn of the last century many French artists became infatuated with Japan’s traditional art – its painting, its music, its haiku literature. Between 1920 and 1922 Ravel wrote his Sonata for Violin and Cello, M. 73; he dedicated it to Claude Debussy, and I detect at least a hint of the Asian concept of minimalism and purity in this piece. Ravel wrote it in his safe haven “Le Belvédère”, located in Montfort l’Amaury, 50 km south-west of Paris, inspired every day by his Japanese garden.