Saturday, July 19, 2008

vladimir cosma

kiss by the hotel de ville by robert doisneau, 1950.

Thinking on Emmett and his wife honeymooning close to the Seine as we 'speak', it brought back to me my first - and, alas, only - visit to Paris in the 80's.

It is a city unlike any other. The light, too, diffused and gentle, immediately brings to mind the Impressionists chasing on the heels of those famous street photographs by Robert Doisneau.

These f@ckers didn't paint like that for no good reason; the light itself is genuinely different.

While I was in Paris I walked (literally) in the footsteps of mad genius, Erik Satie on the daily route he took between his squalid studio apartment and the cafés where he passed time in the company of other artists. When I say squalid I don't mean romantically low-rent ; I mean filthily 'apart' in the truest sense, filled with the debris of his long distance work ethic and - allegedly - smeared with his own faeces in some prototype 'dirty protest'. There were no prison warders for him to offend, of course. He installed himself in a Devil's Island of his own making.

I was a good deal younger then, granted, and far more impressionable.

More than any other single composer, I believe Satie was the harbinger of 20th Century music. Everything from three chord rock n' roll to electronic experimentation. Some 'experts' have uncharitably labelled him a charlatan. What the fuck does that mean ? What weight does such a diagnosis ultimately carry ?

Erk Statie was a middle-aged, bespectacled punk who sought and found momentary peace in those silences between notes.

You may recall the seminal French movie "Diva" directed by Jean-Jaques Beineix. The film was revered for its stunning performance by Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez of Alfredo Catalini's aria from "La Wally". More than that, though, Vladimir Cosma demonstrated a devotion to Satie in his accompanying soundtrack.

I hear young muslim gangbangers have all but taken over the Champs-Élysées these days. A boulevard for colours to be flown. The Place Pigalle probably operates a one-stop picture framing service for the tourists.





Peewit said...

And I thought I was the only one who had a passion for Soundtracks from obscure French films let alone piano playing Blackpudlians!

I have always loved this soundtrack and it was only when I was ripping it recently did I notice that the two Promenade Sentimentales were homages to Satie.

We have a piano in the house and I still harbour the notion that I will learn and play Gymnopaedies (is that the right spelling, I wouldn't want your site visited by undesiirables looking for young girls?)However, being left handed means I have never mastered more than one hand playing. I don't think the genius of Satie could be expressed in one finger-playing!

ib said...

Ha Ha.

This soundtrack is gorgeous. Agreed.

Actually, it's "gymnopédie" ; but I had to look it up, so I am cheating.

Good luck with the piano, peewit - a house without a piano is no home at all. By the way, being left handed only means you are in exceptionally good company. I am right handed, but i have rulers over the knuckles to thank for that.

One finger-playing is fine by me! I'm sure Satie would approve.