Chopin, Lazienki Park

During the summers in Warsaw, free piano concerts of Chopin’s music are staged at Lazienki Park and yesterday we had a chance to attend one of the concerts. The area of the park where this is done is rather nice, benches interspersed with bushes surrounding a little pond, a great big statue of Chopin looking down and to the side where beneath they setup a piano. The piano is microphoned with speakers set up about every 50 feet so that everyone can hear (though it of course doesn’t quite sound like the piano that way…).

The setting was nice, the weather fairly warm, and it was nice to be in a crowd of people who could be outside and at a concert and be fairly attentive. The pieces were all Chopin and was a nice selection, though the performance left a bit to be desired. The performer’s sense of time and rhythm and focus seemed to be too caught up in the technique (for lack of a better term), and the phrasing felt to be on a temporal level too short of how I felt the material felt should have been shaped, feeling a bit labored and melodramatic with the drastic changes of tempo.

Regardless, it was very nice to be there in the park in this setting. After the concert, we walked around the park exploring it for our first time, walking where we may and enjoying the lovely design and nature. The trees are grand, the paths nicely done, and many wonderful squirells and even a very large peacock was to be found. A small walk by the lake there, some ice cream, and another walk would end our first excursion there.

The weather has been a bit warm, and while cooler in the park, I imagine how incredible it must be when the weather is much cooler, and wonder how it will be in the winter when all the leaves are gone and when the ground is covered in snow…

Warsaw After a Week

It’s been a week now since we’ve arrived in Warsaw. Slowly getting to know the city, at least where things are, but the whyof city I think will take quite some time… It’s a curious place, ugly in many ways, yet that ugliness is also its beauty as well. We were having lunch and Lisa mentioned “caricature” and I think that touches on it, but there’s also more to it…

I was listening to George Crumb’s music while walking today and felt while walking and looking out at the city it started to make sense, but that it was bez sensu, without sense. That the logic of the city is it is without logic. The history of Warsaw is rich with highs and abject lows, so many different streams of historical events touching on many different aspects of life, and so much of that is present all at this very time it seems. A place where many difficult questions must have been asked…

I have been completely engaged by “Morton Feldman Says”. Reading felman’s conversations always brings out serious thinking, even in the laughter. Some things I read today touched on and brought out many thoughts I had been wanting to write about for some time.

One aspect of modern day music which is rather curious is the hiding of how one creates their work(at least in the computer music world this seems to be a trend), as if revealing the technique would unlock some mystery of the music, that the quality of the music is a result of the technique and not anything else. With older published music you can see everything, all the notes, notation, everything. One can analyze and see how it was all made and then you get to the point of “why does this work?”, or “why these choices?”. Then it gets interesting…

Technique in itself isn’t so interesting I think, it’s seems to be more a matter of the choices made.

There was another interview where Feldman is talking about Cage (I think it’s the “Here Comes Everybody” interview) and how much focus and energy he spent in making his pieces. Feldman often talks to about focus and how important it is. For me, I’ve had the thought lately that what you bring to the table when you do your work, your seriousness, focus, character, everything, when you go to do your work it all shows through, and that sometimes that matters more to the work than any technical concerns…

In Warsaw

It’s now been two days since we’ve arrived in Warsaw. The first day was a bit of a blur since we flew overnight and slept very little, arrived to happily see all our bags arrived too (last summer we were not so lucky on our way to Krakow, but did have a layover in Chicago that time), made our way to our temporary place at a dorm/hotel, then wandered around the city a bit before meeting the real estate agent and the landlady to see the apartment we are wanting to rent. I was so tired that at times while we were just sitting I was passing out (if you are in Warsaw and saw a tall Korean guy passed out by the Stary MIasto, yes, that was me ^_^).

We ended up sleeping a lot last night which was very necessary, though we did make time to watch the end of regulation and the overtime session of the Germany-Italy World Cup game (very exciting!).

Today we explored the city a little more. When I was here four years ago it was only for a day and it was a whirlwind tour; I remember it being an ugly city and in some ways it is with its strange mix of architecture, but today wandering around I see that it is also very beautiful too, and maybe because of its strange mix of architecture. The city was warm today and felt serenely quiet; I think it will be a very good place to spend time thinking and working on music… I feel that I am only at the very beginning of getting to know this city and its people, but I am looking forward to it very much.

Now the France-Portugal game is starting, I have my copy of Morton Feldman Says that I picked up at St. Marks Bookshop before leaving New York (I had waited a month for Amazon to deliver it but it was always on wait, so I was very glad it was available at St. Marks, and so far am enjoying it very much; a very beautifully laid out book, the photos are fantastic, and of course its Feldman!), and some coffee from an instant coffee machine. Off to enjoy the evening!