Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Buried alive

Over the holiday - over a month ago now - I read three books which appear to be fascinated by holes in the ground. The BATS book for the month was I'm not afraid by Niccolò Ammaniti. Then I got around to re-reading Rose Tremain's Music and Silence - well I finished it this time having got bogged down near the end last time - I think it was an early BATS book when I didn't have as much reading time as now! Then I'd always meant to read Brian Keenan's book about his Beirut captivity An Evil Cradling and I found a copy in an Oxfam bookshop in the Lake District. Its capacity for observation in the most dreadful circumstances was startling:
There’s a bowl in front of me that wasn’t there before. A brown button bowl and in it some apricots, some small oranges, some nuts, cherries, a banana. The fruits, the colours, mesmerise me in a quiet rapture that spins through my head. I am entranced by colour. I lift an orange into the flat filthy palm of my hand and feel and smell and lick it. The colour orange, the colour, the colour, my God the colour orange. Before me is a feast of colour. I feel myself begin to dance, slowly. I am intoxicated by colour. I feel the colour in a quiet somnambulist rage. Such wonder, such absolute wonder in such an insignificant fruit.
Somewhat of a claustrophobic selection - but I didn't notice the connection until I was nearly through them.
And from the title of this post, I must get around to re-listening to Othmar Schoek's Lebendig Begraben
It was of a 40-minute song cycle for bass voice and orchestra, a setting of a cycle of poems by the Swiss poet Gottfried Keller entitled Lebendig begraben ('Buried alive'). He had embarked upon it just a few weeks after getting married, though Hilde's reaction to the fact is not known.
A wonderful piece - but finding Schoek cd's is not easy! However I see that the DFD recording has been reissued!

No comments: