Monday, January 8, 2007

Rainy Monday and Gorecki's Symphony #3

Today one feels the weight of New York City - the crushing weight of traffic, noise, filth, and people . . . so many people, huddled under their umbrellas, hidden behind their ipods and Posts, insulated - we think - from all of the shit that this city can put in your path. (No doubt for NY sports fans, it's an even more miserable day, the Jet and Giants having lost their playoff games yesterday.)

Today I wanted to stay in bed, which is a fairly typical sentiment for most Americans on Monday mornings. My problem is that I want to stay in bed every morning and make it last until early afternoon. But spouse and children rarely allow that to happen. Indeed, most mornings - weekend or weekday - we're awake by 7 a.m. ready - albeit often unwillingly - for school or soccer or basketball or whatever new activity awaits. (I don't know what I would do if one of my kids decided to be a top ice skater and had to make those 5 or 6 a.m. practices!)

Today is a day when the antidepressants don't seem to have much of an "anti" effect. Thankfully the office is quiet, nearly deserted, and I can plug the ipod into the speaker system and crank up Gorecki's Symphony #3 - the first movement - which is equally depressing and uplifting. It's one of my father's favorite pieces of music, altho' my Mom has declared it one of the most depressing pieces she has EVER heard. Yes, it can be dirge-like and each of the three movements is based on rather "downer" texts: a traditional Polish song about a grieving mother . . . one them I can't remember . . . and one drawn from a message scrawled by a prisoner being held by the Nazi SS during the 2nd World War. It's sometimes referred to as Gorecki's "War Symphony" and has been played at a number of Holocaust remembrance ceremonies. (The best known recording features Dawn Upshaw handling the solo vocals that punctuate each movement. However, there are a couple of other recordings that I prefer over Ms. Upshaw's interpretation.)

The bottom line: This is great music for a rainy Monday in New York City. To say it is "depressing" misses the incredible complexity of the work . . . but my mom, a very intelligent woman AND the queen of Harlequin Romances, rarely challenges herself when it comes to art.

As I think I've noted before in these posts - life demands a soundtrack - and Gorecki just happens to be today's score. With the return of sun and brisk temperatures tomorrow, the soundtrack could change to Gershwin . . . or My Chemical Romance . . . or the Arctic Monkeys. Who knows!

1 comment:

One Wink at a Time said...

Confession: I'm in a rush and really didn't read this as thoroughly as I should (will return another day) but if your message was Life's Soundtrack, I hear you loud and clear. I live by a "soundtrack" and music is the main theme that runs through my days and nights...