Yo-Yo Ma plays "The Swan"
I have fond memories of attending
a music camp where all of the bass players (dozens of them) got together every
year to play The Elephant:
But my favorite movement
currently is “Aquarium.”
It’s so sudden and strange;
it always catches me off guard in the middle of the piece. It’s beautiful, and
it sounds like perhaps something that Danny Elfman would write for a Tim Burton score.
I was listening to “Aquarium”
recently when brainstorming fishy music in the wake of the Bruckner/Arby’s nonsense, and I discovered that it did inspire a film scoring moment – in
Disney’s Beauty in the Beast. Listen (and compare the two):
Beauty and the Beast Introduction
(What's your favorite part of this musical menagerie?)
Saint-Saëns wrote The Carnival of the Animals in 1886. The
previous year he’d composed a little confection called “The Wedding-Cake.”
Afraid of being labeled a composer of light music, he suppressed Carnival of the Animals, and it wasn’t
published until after he died. Poor sad, stuffy Saint-Saëns! He wrote plenty of
other serious stuff, and what’s so bad about light music, anyway?
If you want to really embrace
all that is light and silly, check out the poems that Ogden Nash wrote in 1949 to go with the music. I may not agree with Nash’s thoughts on women’s fashion,
but his poems are so much fun.
Was wracked with pains,
When people addressed him,
He held the human race to blame,
Because it could not pronounce his name,
So, he turned with metronome and fife,
To glorify other kinds of life,
Be quiet please - for here begins
His salute to feathers, fur and fins.
Read the rest of Ogden Nash's The Carnival of the Animals here.
My favorite recording has Leonard Bernstein conducting and narrating. I’ve also recently been enjoying these videos with Sir Roger Moore reading Nash’s poems before each movement.
The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra
will be playing Carnival of the Animals (and music by Debussy and Stravinsky) at Fairmont State University on Thursday, and at the Clay Center in Charleston on Friday and Saturday