Prior to my drive home from UCSC I started to feel an awful pain. I’ve had this before. My ear aches so badly I can hardly stand it. I used to think I was dealing with an ear infection, but I finally went in once and the doctor said she saw nothing at all. (Well, aside from what she was supposed to see!) Later I showed Dan where it was aching so (sometimes a dull pain, but sometimes a very sharp pain) he suggested it was maybe my jaw rather than my ear. I am guessing he is correct. It feels like my ear, but it is on the outer part — what I’m now finding is called the “crest of helix” perhaps? — and maybe it’s really my jaw that is making this ache.

Whatever it is, it’s real agony, to be sure. So I will attempt to rest up good and proper now, as I still have a student and an opera today.

BUT … while I was driving to and from UCSC I did enjoy a most wonderful listening experience!

I’ve written about this Barber CD before, right after I downloaded it from emusic.com. It’s just wonderful! I would so love to play the Capricorn Concerto sometime (San Jose Chamber Orchestra perhaps?). A Hand of Bridge is great. Mutations from Bach is wonderful. And how can anyone not love the Intermezzo from Vanessa? (Opera San José did Vanessa years ago, but I barely remember it for some reason.) Canzonetta for Oboe and Strings caused me to sit in my car even while I had arrived on campus. It’s lovely. Finally, I began my drive home with Fadograph of a Yestern Scene, which is another work I wish I could perform.

So that was all lovely. Even the final work, which I listened to while in pain.

After those, I moved on to some more Barber—two works I’d added to my burned CD because I like to fill these things up. So in my library I pulled out Barber’s Summer Music for woodwind quintet. This is a work I’ve looked at but never performed. Woodwind quintet isn’t my favorite ensemble, but I wouldn’t mind working that piece up for a recital. (I do have to play one next year at UCSC.)

To complete my trip … and to cause great awe … was Knoxville, Summer of 1915 from this CD, featuring Dawn Upshaw. (I was so happy to read that she is doing well now, after her bout with cancer.)

Ahhhh … that work! How can anyone not fall apart when hearing it, I wonder? Is it one of those pieces that only makes some of us ache? If so, I feel extremely sorry for those it cannot reach. The words, by James Agee, are stunning.

We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville Tennessee in that time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.

…It has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently and watching the street and the standing up into their sphere of possession of the trees, of birds’ hung havens, hangars. People go by; things go by. A horse, drawing a buggy, breaking his hollow iron music on the asphalt; a loud auto; a quiet auto; people in pairs, not in a hurry, scuffling, switching their weight of aestival body, talking casually, the taste hovering over them of vanilla, strawberry, pasteboard and starched milk, the image upon them of lovers and horsemen, squared with clowns in hueless amber.

A streetcar raising its iron moan; stopping, belling and starting; stertorous; rousing and raising again its iron increasing moan and swimming its gold windows and straw seats on past and past and past, the bleak spark crackling and cursing above it like a small malignant spirit set to dog its tracks; the iron whine rises on rising speed; still risen, faints; halts; the faint stinging bell; rises again, still fainter, fainting, lifting, lifts, faints foregone: forgotten. Now is the night one blue dew.

Now is the night one blue dew, my father has drained, he has coiled the hose.

Low on the length of lawns, a frailing of fire who breathes….

Parents on porches: rock and rock. From damp strings morning glories hang their ancient faces.

The dry and exalted noise of the locusts from all the air at once enchants my eardrums.

On the rough wet grass of the back yard my father and mother have spread quilts. We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there….They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet, of nothing in particular, of nothing at all. The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near.

You can see it, can’t you? And to hear it through Barber’s music. Ah! But THEN … these following lines. Even reading them now makes me cry.

All my people are larger bodies than mine,…with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds. One is an artist, he is living at home. One is a musician, she is living at home. One is my mother who is good to me. One is my father who is good to me. By some chance, here they are, all on this earth; and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night. May God bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away.

After a little I am taken in and put to bed. Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her: and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am.

If you do not want to go get the music now, you will only be half my friend.

:-)

2 Comments

  1. Fun Stuff. I had Tempro-Mandibular Joint disorder (aka TMJ) which gave me a terrible headache/earache. I’m not sure what your reeds are like but any biting will certainly set it off. (I tended to REALLY bite while playing E-horn). If you want to test if it’s a TMJ or jaw problem, just try chewing some stiff gum (like the kind you chewed for days when you were a kid and saved it in a great big wad of congealed mess.) That should certainly set something off if you’re injured up there.

    I just bought the 20th Century Music Quintets CD of the original Philadelphia Wind Quintet with de Lancie, Gigliotti, Kincaid, Mason, and Schoenbach. It’s a gorgeous CD, and the Summer Music on it is very lush. de Lancie’s tone is much more fuller than is typically recorded (my guess is due to the proximity of the microphone)

    Sorry I missed you on this trip. I fly back to Korea in a couple of days after spending the weekend in Seattle. Perhaps when I move back in a couple months we’ll see each other, and maybe I’ll even see my long-lost reed case again!

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Obviously I can’t just wait until I see you now! I HAVE to get that reed case (and reeds) in the mail. Really. I’m horribly embarrassed. Sigh.

    I was working on reed this morning, but they weren’t really stiff, so I don’t know. I have wondered about TMJ. The dentist has told me I grind my teeth, so maybe it has something to do with that.

    I don’t have the Philadelphia WWQ CD and I’d love to get it. What a list of players, eh?!

    In any case, I feel better now, so I’m hoping opera will go just fine. (I’m nervous though; I’ve not played the opera in a week and I hate coming in after skipping a few shows!)