Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Noise Fludde


Gustav Mahler, maybe the world's most original orchestrator, a composer forever searching for new - some would say excessive - orchestral effects, once went to see the Niagara Falls. His comment was 'Endlich, fortissimo!' (Fortissimo, at last!)

I've never been to Niagara, but I have been to Eas Coul Aulin. Well, sort of. I believe this is the highest waterfall in the British Isles. It's a few miles inland from Eddrachillis Bay, in North-west Sutherland. We went to find it once, when we lived in Scotland. I'm ashamed to admit - I have to take the blame myself - I made an imbecile mistake, the unerring effort of a complete cretin: instead of clambering through the heather to view this slender skyscraper of a cascade in its entirety from the foot, I clambered through the heather at the head of the grumbling family + dog to view it from the top. All we saw was an insignificant burn* disappearing over the edge of the cliff. Had I been Mahler I suppose I could have said 'Endlich, pianissimo!' but even if I'd thought of it at the time it wouldn't have been much consolation.

I can't account for this photo. (The choir isn't my vocal group Les Jeudistes, in case you were wondering.) Maybe they're performing something very noisy from Mahler. There's a mighty chorus towards the end of his 8th Symphony which includes the words (from Goethe) Alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis, All that is transitory is but an illusion. Or possibly metaphor. Not a bad notion to draw from a waterfall.

Please could any comment you might feel moved to make not include any anagrams of 'Waiter! Scum!'? Thank you.

* burn = stream, brook, Jimmy.

8 comments:

Rog said...

Water Music? Ah, the swirl of the pipes...

Tenon_Saw said...

A climactic moment from 'Don Juan' by Strauss, perhaps, in the little known vocal arrangement by Silas Dipfinger.

Vicus Scurra said...

Goethe was correct, wasn't he? Which is why I am not bothering to post this comment.

Sarah said...

'All that is transitory is but an illusion' .....was Mahler a Buddhist ?
What was the point of taking his orchestra to these falls...exactly?

Dave said...

I climbed up Cauldron Snout, when I walked the Pennine Way - the route climbs steeply up the wet rocks beside the waterfall. I thus saw both top and bottom of the fall, and nearly fell myself. No music was involved.

Friko said...

Gleichnis = simile, allegory, parable.

So yes, illusion will do nicely, thank you. Translations never fit the original meaning exactly, Johann Wolfgang's least of all. Is your German good enough to read the original?

Mahler is a god, like Goethe, his noise and fury are magnificent, whereas the picture of two jets of water bursting from a dam with an arrangement of rose pink singers in front of it rather reminds me of sherbet. Mouth open.

Sorry, Christopher, the piano nobile is taken by a bust of Debussy, but the mezzanine has a broom cupboard which is still free.

Christopher said...

Rog: Did you mean 'Must I, Carew'?

TS: You Don Juan anything to do with that Silas Dipfinger - he's wicked evil, man.

Vicus:

Sah: No, not a Buddhist. I thought you might be intrigued. Actually this photo was published in Le Figaro some days ago - the choir and orchestra were celebrating the inauguration of some dam or hydro-electric plant in China. At least I think it was China; might have been N. Korea. Or Mongolia. Or Essex. We weren't told what they were playing.

Dave: Thank you for telling me this. A quick straw poll round the outdoor staff here threw up (that's to say evinced) the following preferences:

Niagara: 0
Eas Coul Aulin: 0
Cauldron Snout: 0
Chocolate in Dave's fridge: 1

Friko: Thank you. 'Gleichnis' is indeed a problem. I thought of 'simulacrum' but felt 'illusion' was nearer the mark. Reading German isn't too much of a problem provided there's a dictionary handy, but I fall down as heavily as Dave nearly did when it comes to speaking correctly or writing.

Broom cupboard, indeed. Do you think I'm Boris Becker?

letouttoplay said...

Reminds me of that woman, Anneke Noise(?)who rushed toothily around the country making large numbers of people do improbable things for charity, on a TV programme. I'm sure one of the things involved an orchestra and a boat.