This afternoon, in Aardvark Books, I encountered a book which, according to the book plate, had belonged to a friend, now moved away. I was pleased with this discovery, and bought the book. From time to time, I come across books that I have owned and sold. I like to think that coincidences are signs that The Universe Is Unfolding As It Should!
Some years ago, when I was "between jobs" as the saying has it, I sold books to Aardvark, among which was one I had bought in Iceland in 1971. I never meant to sell it, since it is one of the few mementos I have of that journey. When I realized, the next day, what I had done, I returned to the shop as soon as I could, and bought it back. I still have it.
07 March 2015
Recently I found myself at the Conservatory, listening to Craig Sheppard play Shostakovich's '24 Preludes and Fugues' Opus 87. I didn't know this work. I've heard his symphonies and string quartets and have seen the opera 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk', but haven't heard much else. So Opus 87 was a revelation. The variety of moods and styles was astonishing. Within a few bars the mood could change from lyrical charm to anger to humor and more. A fugue could open as a simple exercise in two-part counterpoint and suddenly explode into several voices and as complex a structure as one could follow. The work takes more than two hours to perform. There was one interval, during which about half the audience deserted the hall. Crass, I thought. Some students brought scores, which they followed assiduously. I spoke with one young man who knew the work; he contrasted it with Hindemith's 'Ludus Tonalis'. Said the performer after long applause and a standing ovation, "This is great stuff, isn't it?"
02 March 2015
During my walk through the neighborhood this afternoon, I observed a new Volkswagen Beetle, bright yellow, adorned with large rubber "eyelashes" above the headlights. I remember Beetles of the 60s and 70s, decorated with flowers and peace signs and whatnot. What is it about the Beetle that invites these additions?