Liszt, Chopin, Mussorgsky… die Gewandhaus zu Leipzig

Two by Liszt, an encore by Chopin, then the full orchestra doing Mussorgsky… and no photography allowed.

 

Bertrand Chamayou was an absolute delight, bringing more than the required energy to both the Liszt pieces, but the second one especially — the “Fantasia on Hungarian folk melodies for piano and orchestra”, the melody being well-known by aficionados of Bugs Bunny films — tends to leave some serious scorch marks on the keyboard. The “Totentanz” theme is equally familiar in its wrathfulness, the “Dies Irae” being an ever more “oldie, but goodie”. His choice of a Chopin barcarolle was a perfect way of cooling down after the heat of the Liszt.

But oldies… I’ve heard the Mussorgsky dozens of times, but tonight was simply “Wow.” The orchestral arrangements (there’s Ravel’s which we got to hear and at least one other) call for a larger band, the tonal colors that Mussorgsky suggested in the original piece for piano requiring the likes of a soprano saxophone and two harps, just to name a few of the additions.

And the Gewandhaus Orchestra delivered. In proverbial spades. The space itself was certainly a factor — I can’t wait to hear more music there; I’d love to hear something with the delicacy of Vaughan Williams that would utilize the ability of the hall to reflect the tiniest tinkle of a triangle to glorious bombast of the brass section.

Verweile doch, Leipzig — du bißt so schön!

Of Movement, Motion, and Mobility…

Getting from Point A to Point B.

That boat has sailed.

Get out of town.

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Headed for Lausen…

Not content with gathering moss, some are in constant motion. Not necessarily “going” anywhere but certainly not sitting still in one place, they stay busy.

In the past year or so, I have had the opportunity to observe, albeit from a certain perspective, a variety of ways in which we move and deliver ourselves to the various spaces and place we occupy. Whether going to the market or work, taking a holiday or accompanying loved ones to their departure points, so many different modes and literal vehicles abound.

My own arrival by jet, then subsequent long taxi into Paris was mundane by most standards. Compared a recent trip from London to Leipzig, my journey really WAS easy. While in Paris, it was taxis and the Metro, easy-peasey. And then… things got more… interesting.

At Le Chateau des Araignées (where there ARE no squirrels, I was told), there existed a limited number of transportation options. In a village so small that the only regular bus service had been reduced to the children’s school bus, I was subject to the largesse of Himself, who drove about regularly in his right-hand drive SUV. And since it was about 17 kilometers from the Hazebrouck train station, that was welcome, if somewhat arbitrary in its offering.

The rest of the time, there was an aged Citroën on the premises that was still functional (and a second one of unknown mechanical condition!) and when Himself learned that I could drive a stick shift, he grudgingly allowed me the use of it… but only for about 30 days, as the insurance was running out then and he was too cheap to renew it (I offered to pay the €300 for a year’s worth of coverage so that future visitors could also use it, but to no avail), dooming it to a fate like the other Citroën. So there were a few too-brief trips to the market at St. Omer before that came to an end.

There were a number of bicycles around, all of them in need of some form of TLC, ranging from the dire to only serious. I started with the “serious”: a pretentious old Pashley with wicker basket, built-in frame lock, and all. Sadly, I discovered that the seat-post clamp was in serious need of replacement (about €17 on Amazon) and so after trying to ride it, I gave up as the expenditure by him was deemed unnecessary.

I had better luck with a Trek commuter bike, going so far as to buy my own lock for it for a couple of forays into the village to buy some things at the tiny market and apothecary there. That didn’t last long as it was considered suspect, allowing the help to have a modicum of freedom of movement!

Leaving France and arriving in what is a vaguely remote part of England that is quickly becoming a commuter community of greater London, I now had access to a different scale of transportation and mobility. Being able to drive a right-hand drive manual auto was a huge plus and suddenly, I was regularly running errands for the farm and had the free use of the station wagon in my free time, so long as I paid for the petrol myself. That was the easiest part, really. Worst case, I could walk for about 10 minutes and catch a (very regular) bus into the next village to catch a train (also quite regular) straight into London’s Liverpool Station. From there, the Tube would whisk me onward to Paddington, where the rest of BritRail awaited. That, combined with the car, made getting around very easy.

And so when I moved into Southall, I was only a 5 minute walk to the station that ran straight to Paddington, a place with which I was already quite familiar and my Oyster card was my very best friend. No bicycles at this stage, but I was certainly checking out the options that London offered… all those Bromptons!

So when it was time to do the Schengen Shuffle, it was an easy choice to take the train to Leipzig. But Deutsche Bahn isn’t what it used to be, unannounced changes to the itinerary along the way, and delays. But I got there. And it’s easy here to use the tram and the train or walk.

I find myself fascinated by an existence without actually using a car here. There are clearly stories to be told…

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Asleep on the #14 to Plagwitz

… the faces one sees, the ones that you are lucky enough to photograph, or simply the ones your are just blessed to see without capturing. And then there are the stories that we can only imagine, as we see the traces along the way:

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One of a Perfect Pair, I’m sure…

And so it goes — commuting, going to market, or just out for visual adventures. That’s all for now. A bientôt!