Many years ago I bought a sketch pad from Aaron Brothers art store and began to record some of the unique features of the Arizona countryside on paper with pen and ink. The Strathmore 300 Series includes a very fine quality paper in the 11" x 14" size which is perfect for mobile sketching and outdoor impressions. One of the scenes captured in this manner I entitled "Arizona Landscape," painted with acrylics on a similar size Masonite panel which I had primed with acrylic gesso. Rather than using the smooth side, I opted to paint on the rough-textured side of the panel, allowing for a more painterly feel as if painting on the surface of a prepared canvas. While I liked the overall appearance of the finished result, I have to admit that the rough texture made the process of painting more difficult and time consuming in order to achieve the desired results. Blending colors and shading various areas can be performed with greater ease on smooth surfaces. Still it is fun to experiment a bit with various textures and to explore the full extension of possibilities when trying to capture what the eye sees or what the soul feels. Often in Arizona you gain the impression of entering into some secluded palace of breathtaking desert colors surrounded by rugged mountains, a place where singular beauty seems to capture the heart and make time stand still. This particular scene represents one of those moments where the observer may easily become transfixed by the evolving pattern of rocks, trees, rolling hills, distant mountains and mystical horizons along the edge of the Arizona landscape.
An improvisation upon the theme of hiking in Arizona while exploring a canyon north of Tortilla Flat. Many years ago a friend revealed this site to me as we traversed the entire length and breadth of this natural corridor along the desert landscape. I would guess that the entire length of the canyon is several thousand feet, bordered by sheer walls which must ascend up to 400 or 500 feet. It had rained days before we made our journey and we discovered small rivulets of cool water which could barely be called a stream, lined with yellow-green lichen and moss, meandering through the floor of the canyon. There were pools of dark water which reflected the brilliant orange sunlight from above, giant boulders which you had to jump across, and an impression of ancient permanence in the majesty of this place. I recalled the mysterious beauty of Claude Debussy's "The Sunken Cathedral" as we hiked along the vast corridor stretched out before us. The area toward the south of the canyon opens up and allows a more spacious view of the surrounding desert landscape. When you climb back up toward the roadway above and then look down to see where you have been, you almost cannot believe the extraordinary depth and size of this area. It is truly a breathtaking journey well worth the time and effort it takes to fully explore this magnificent environment.
Performed upon my vintage 1930's Hohner Regina VI accordion, a 4/5 reed instrument in LMMM configuration. Two previous videos have featured improvisations which explore impressionistic themes associated with this canyon. "Lyric Poem for Accordion" posted 2/6/2014 with my vintage Iorio (video length 8:34) and "Fanfares & Reveries for Vintage Hohner" posted 9/13/2011 (video length 5:08)
This video provides another example of what I call "painting with reeds" or imagining space, form, line, rhythm and color via the impressionistic music of a vintage accordion. Arizona is a special place for outdoor adventures including hiking, sightseeing and day-trips. Years ago I was brought face to face with an extraordinary canyon just north of Tortilla Flat, Arizona. A friend who once worked as a Forest Ranger showed me this location and we spent the entire day exploring the majesty of the Arizona landscape. Improvisation gives the musician an opportunity to record feelings and impressions which may otherwise be inexpressible or unsearchable. In this music I am recording both the majesty and the wonder of this remarkable area, utilizing the reeds of the instrument as my orchestra. There is often a pulse or breath of life which animates the scenery and vistas of a particular location, a sense of Divine handiwork which captures our imagination and may hold our interest for hours or days afterwards. In this case, I am remembering the vast perspectives and colorful details as seen from both below and above the canyon's corridors, as if the entire picture could be displayed via the textures and phrases of music. Manufactured in 1938, the Hohner Regina VI features a unique sonic signature which often reminds me of the power and characteristic versatility of a large pipe organ. I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Jerry who tuned and restored this instrument, replacing worn parts and adjusting the inner mechanism to achieve remarkable results. Here is a 76 year old instrument which still speaks in a rather poetic and artistic manner, allowing the musician to "paint" via a set of extraordinary German reeds, providing a picture which remains indelibly etched in one's visual, tactile and sonic memory.
Accordion Impressions: Along a Country Road
An improvisation reflecting upon memories of a day hike along Possumtown Road in Piscataway Township, New Jersey in 1958 or 1959. My friend Bobby and I were Cub Scouts invited by the local Scoutmaster to attend a day hike with about 8 or 10 other Scouts along one of the country roads in rural New Jersey. We started out early in the morning on either a sunny Spring or Summer's day, traveling south to Cedar Avenue by crossing the railroad tracks of the Jersey Central and Erie Lackawanna lines and following the rural road to Possumtown Road where we began to travel eastwards along a two-lane country road heavily surrounded by densely wooded forests. It was a clear and breath-taking morning, dotted with wonderfully colorful scenes and crisp aromas of the country outdoors. We walked beneath a railroad overpass made of stone and steel and then continued our adventurous trek down this lovely country lane. Here and there were simple fields dotted with wildflowers, filled with butterflies, sometimes adjacent to crops and rows of tall corn bordered by tall weeds and the tangles of nature. We took great delight in the fabulous adventure of the day, enjoying the sights, sometimes slowing our pace to take in the abundant details spread so enchantingly before our impressionable eyes and senses. Across from an old stone house, someone had tied a small goat to a metal post. The little fellow greeted us with warm affection and we tarried just a moment to pet him and admire his quaint hideaway tucked next to the verdant wilderness. Somewhere down along the road, our leader asked us to pause and find a place to eat our lunches in the vicinity of a beautifully still pond strewn with rocks and green ferns. We took a well-deserved rest and enjoyed our hand-packed lunches, admiring the quiet stream and feeling the full nourishment of both the food and the spirit of the moment. When the time came to leave, we headed back the same way we had entered this lyrical domain, looking forward to begin our trek homewards and to share our adventures with our respective families. Today this area has been substantially changed, although Possumtown Road is still there in a four-lane version with a small length of the original two-lane design left in place. Now the vicinity is populated by light industrial buildings, commercial factories, parking lots and condominiums, all bordered by the fast-moving freeway known as Highway 287. There are some thickly wooded pockets of forest still situated along Possumtown Road, along with the remnants of a small pond and a nicely landscaped park. But the two-lane country road which we once traversed has been radically altered, probably no longer to be recognized through modern eyes.
Program notes: The opening theme begins at 00:14 and is quickly followed by a development section, continuing with still more development at 00:52 and the shift to stronger bass and a stirring sense of majesty at 01:26. The full master register sounds at 02:00 with a brief coda at 02:22. At 02:23 a quieter episode begins with the bassoon register, then the clarinet register at 02:44, leading to another quiet closing figure at 03:06. At 03:08 the violin register speaks, then the musette voice and a repeated development section. Further development takes place at 03:51, with the bassoon register bringing forth the lower notes in the treble section at 04:07 and a "walking bass" phrase displayed via the bass section. At 04:25 an introspective portion ascends to the fore, with the full master again introducing the original theme and development at 04:40. At 05:03 there is an impressionistic portrayal of climbing notes, as if one is reaching, walking, dreaming and marching all in continuous order. The ending portion begins at 05:21 with the closing chord heard at 05:31 until the final sounds fade away.
Performed upon my vintage 1950's Scandalli accordion, a 4/5 reed instrument in LMMH configuration. The keyboard length is 17 inches. This accordion was given to me as a gift from friends around the year 2000.
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I call this "Painting with Reeds" because I love the evocative sounds of these vintage Italian reeds. In the same way an artist would paint with a full range of impressionistic colors or in an impressionistic style, I find that the reed voices of a good accordion are capable of creating an atmospheric environment readily descriptive of an event, a person, a time, a mood, a specific setting or a range of ideas.
Journal Entry: Friday, 31 August, 2001 Algeciras, Spain
"We went yesterday to Gibraltar on an Operation Transit sponsored tour (Mediterranean Crossing). It was picturesque, with vivid surveys of the spectacular vistas from the high promontories of the Rock. I enjoyed my companions, Debbie, Christy, Carol, Amy and Leslie. Our friends from Costa Rica (Carlos, Junio and Karla) couldn't go because they had forgotten their passports. I like the military flavor of Gibraltar. One of the rock monkeys climbed up on me and sat on my head! I had a most peaceful opportunity to visit King's Chapel and Holy Trinity Cathedral. Such divine architecture and heavenly light!"
Exploring the Atmosphere at Gibraltar
There are spacious open-air markets and restaurants as you first enter into the commercial district. The original military barracks have been converted into retail space, galleries, gift shops and museums. One can watch glass being blown into thousands of shapes at a glass-works factory just off the main market square. The streets lead into narrow alleyways which still afford occasional glimpses of the sea which lies beyond the densely populated areas. I asked our tour guide, Charlie, what the current population might be (in 2001). He thought about 30,000. The landing strip at the airport is fairly short and tourists must walk across the runway in order to visit the commercial district. The British officials at the entrance gate are very efficient and courteous at processing and checking passports and handling typical tourist questions.
Breathtaking Sights and a Vivid Sense of History
Altogether I enjoyed immensely my time spent here, seeking some out-of-the-way places and gaining an appreciation for the culture of this fascinating place. You can spend hours or even days exploring the many faceted features and pleasures of Gibraltar, gaining special insights from the local population and from those who work here. It is upon the heights that I most fondly remember the views which can take one's breath away. As you look out upon the vast blue waters along the far horizon, it is easy to imagine the historical significance of this geological location on the world's map. It is the Rock which, after all these many Centuries, still stands!
Island Caves & A Giant Bird
The island survivors battle a giant bird (a prehistoric phororhacos), providing a thrilling moment when Herbert (Michael Callan) heroically jumps upon the large creature and subdues it, rescuing Elena (Beth Rogan), Lady Mary (Joan Greenwood), and Mr. Spilitt (Gary Merrill). Ray Harryhausen's special effects are superlative in this sequence, all orchestrated to coincide with the masterful score by composer Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann found an organ fugue written by composer J. L. Krebs and utilizes this thematic material to underscore the drama of contending with an otherworldly creature in such a marvelously tropical, fantastic environment. After winning the furious battle, the survivors speculate, "I wonder how many minutes it would take to cook in a slow oven?" The group manages to make a meal out of the bird and enjoys a fabulous repast in the relative safety and comfort of their lofty cave-home. Neb (Dan Jackson) humorously suggests that if it had not been for Herbert's heroic action, "Mr. Spilitt would have been in the inside cutting out instead of on the outside cutting in!"
A Hidden Cove & the Nautilus
After Herbert and Elena narrowly escape becoming permanently trapped in a giant beehive with enormous bees, they both fall through the upper reaches of a cavern and manage to discover a hidden grotto beneath. Here they both spot the strangely beautiful and mysterious submarine "Nautilus," the legendary craft commanded by Capt. Nemo. This is a highly evocative scene with neat atmosphere and very colorful set design. Ray Harryhausen reveals in his accompanying film documentary that the beautiful model of the Nautilus was actually about 8 to 10 feet long, just as impressive as the model featured by Disney for "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" released in 1954. As Herbert and Elena gingerly inspect the abandoned Nautilus, Elena worries that they will be discovered and urges Herbert to curtail his curiosity. Before they leave, we catch a glimpse of the rich interior of the Nautilus, the gold and burgundy color scheme contrasted with subdued portions of blue-gray, marvelous circular portholes, lovely draperies, a library of scholarly books, maps, candles, and an imposing pipe organ at the end of the room. This is one of the most beautiful sets I have ever seen in a Science Fiction/ Fantasy film.
Pirates and the First Appearance of Capt. Nemo (Herbert Lom)
When a sailing ship appears just off shore, some of the island survivors instinctively wish to signal their presence upon the island, but Capt. Harding (Michael Craig) wisely orders no signal to be given until they can determine what type of vessel this may be. Through the use of a telescope, Capt. Harding observes the skull & crossbones, revealing this ship to be commanded by a group of pirates. The survivors try to hide all indications of their presence on the island, but the pirates come ashore and accidentally discover signs of recent human activity. Lady Mary trips while bringing a rifle to Capt. Harding, sending a loud report from the lofty cave high above the sandy beach. Immediately a battle begins as the survivors defend their island against the approaching menace. The pirate crew notices the location of the cave and begins to blast away at "The Granite House" with volleys of cannon fire, seriously damaging the structure of the cave. Just as the pirates seem to be winning and enjoying a victory celebration, a huge explosion takes place under the water adjacent to the pirate ship, causing the vessel to sink in just a few minutes with the loss of all hands aboard. Although the island survivors are glad to see the pirates defeated, they are baffled as to the cause of their sudden demise. It is at this point that Capt. Nemo makes his first appearance to Herbert on the beach, emerging from the ocean in his unique underwater gear, looking like some otherworldly apparition unbeknownst to man. Herbert wisely tells Elena to flee as he alone faces this very strange sight. Capt. Nemo commands Herbert to "Put that down!", noting the small knife which the soldier bravely brandishes in his defense. "Very well, keep it if it gives you some comfort," relates Nemo in his marvelous accent and smoothly resonant tone of voice. The other island survivors appear and stand alongside Herbert, curious as to who this unusual apparition might be. Nemo introduces himself and knows each one of the islanders by name, speaking to Lady Mary, "I'm not quite the ogre I appear." Suddenly everything is made clear as the islanders realize that Capt. Nemo was on the island all along, secretly monitoring them and even helping when they faced numerous challenges. Nemo explains that, "Contact with my own species has always disappointed me. Solitude gives me freedom of mind and independence of action."
Dramatic Events & Exotic Atmosphere
During the storm sequence over the Pacific Ocean, the rapidly descending balloon is pushed further westward toward an unknown island. We catch a brief glimpse of some rocks in the distance as one of the crew announces the sound of waves crashing against the shore. The group remains in a precarious position above the churning waters below, as rain continues to lash the balloon amid furious winds and the threat of impending disaster. Capt. Harding falls from the rigging and hits the water, followed by Herbert and then Mr. Spilitt who says he will swim all the way to shore. Neb and Sgt. Pencroft are the only two left holding onto the balloon's rigging as they are finally dragged up onto the sandy beach. The following scene opens upon a magnificent beach as the survivors begin to search for Capt. Harding. The matte painting is sensational in this beautiful portrait of a tropical island, with fluttering seagulls waving about and huge volcanic mountains in the distance. The atmospheric flavor breathes with incredible color, splendid detail and verdant tropical majesty. Full credit for the masterfully created scenes in this film would have to include William C. Andrews (Art Direction), Francisco Prosper (Construction Coordinator, Art Department, uncredited), Ray Harryhausen (Creator of Visual Effects), Vic Margutti (Special Photographic Effects, uncredited), Wilkie Cooper (Cinematography), Cy Endfield (Director), Charles H. Schneer (Producer), and Bernard Herrmann (Music, with the London Symphony Orchestra).
Making a Home on the Island & Exploration of the Landscape
In order to restore stamina for the crew after finding Capt. Harding, Mr. Spilitt cooks up a batch of giant oyster stew "seasoned with seaweed." There is some speculation amongst the survivors as to their exact location, perhaps Figi or New Zealand. Capt. Harding narrates the evolving story via his detailed observations delivered through the accompanying voice-over. "The landscape everywhere was a mixture of the strange and the beautiful." Volcanoes stand surrounded by tropical palm trees and sandy beaches, all of it "a riot of wonderful hues and fantastic colors." The Captain relates that there is "no evidence that man had ever set foot here before." Towards an exploration of the interior of the island, a stream and a magnificent waterfall appear in the midst of a lush tropical forest, again the results of spectacular matte painting. The survivors manage to battle a giant crab and win the fight when the creature falls into a hot geyser along the beach. We catch glimpses of a realistic volcano in the distance, which Capt. Harding orders the crew to scale in order to better observe their present location. In managing to climb to the summit of the volcano, Mr. Spilitt finds a pleasant surprise. "Giant mice!" he exclaims upon finding a herd of wild goats, all of which are dutifully pressed into service. Looking into the mouth of the volcano, one can perfectly visualize both the splendor and the terror of this genuinely awe-inspiring phenomenon.
A Memorable Fantasy Film in the Science Fiction Genre
Cy Endfield directed "Mysterious Island" with a screenplay written by John Prebble, Daniel Ullman and Crane Wilbur, loosely based upon the original novel by French author Jules Verne (1828-1905). The cast is comprised of Michael Craig as Capt. Cyrus Harding, Joan Greenwood as Lady Mary Fairchild, Michael Callan as Herbert Brown, Gary Merrill as Gideon Spilitt, Herbert Lom as Capt. Nemo, Beth Rogan as Elena Fairchild, Percy Herbert as Sgt. Pencroft, and Dan Jackson as Cpl. Neb Nugent. The film was produced by Charles H. Schneer, featuring a grand music score by Bernard Herrmann (recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra), cinematography by Wilkie Cooper, Art Direction by Bill Andrews, and sensational visual effects created by Ray Harryhausen.
Opening Credits and Following Scenes
The film opens with the powerful orchestral music of Bernard Herrmann, utilizing a very large orchestra incorporating 8 horns, 4 tubas and an expanded wind and percussion section. We are swept up into enormous waves of imagination as we encounter Herrmann's vivid and spectacular score. Although Ray Harryhausen has stated that his original idea was to showcase a prehistoric concept, he indicates in the accompanying documentary that this plan was altered in order to highlight the plight of survivors on a marooned island in the Pacific, a vehicle for introducing giant creatures via the "Super Dynamation" process.
The film opens with a scene from the American Civil War as Federal and Confederate armies face one another during the Siege of Richmond, Virginia in 1865. As a storm rages outside of a Confederate prison, Federal prisoners make plans to escape, hoping to capture an observation balloon despite an armed guard and the furious windstorm aloft. The masterful set design gives a very atmospheric feel to the interior of the prison and the outer courtyard where the balloon is secured in the midst of buffeting winds and heavy rainfall. Through a clever execution of events, the Federal prisoners make their daring escape and manage to take the balloon aloft, narrowly missing a few rifle shots from the Confederate guards as well as avoiding a sharp steeple almost directly in their appointed path of ascent.
The Journey Aloft
Although Capt. Harding's plan of escape is successful, the group of escapees now includes a Confederate soldier (Sgt. Pencroft) who valiantly attempts but fails to halt the stealing of the balloon. Now there are five passengers in the wicker basket beneath the balloon, including Capt. Harding, Pvt. Herbert Brown, newspaper correspondent Gideon Spilitt, Cpl. Neb Nugent and the aforementioned Sgt. Pencroft (an unwilling participant in the grand escape). As furious winds carry the balloon further and further aloft, Capt. Harding narrates the story via a descriptive voice-over, indicating they are now "prisoners of the wind" in the greatest storm in American history. The group witnesses "forests torn up by their roots," and begins to feel "helpless in the storm's mighty grip." Capt. Harding intuitively speculates internally about ever setting foot on earth again.
Music, Storms & Atmosphere
When someone notices a large body of water below, the group decides to lower the balloon's altitude in order to investigate their exact location. After days of travel initiated by incredible winds, it is thought that they may now be over the Pacific Ocean. As the descent proves to be too fast (due to a stuck release valve), Capt. Harding heroically climbs up the craft's rigging to try to stem the rapid fall but manages only to break the valve. The group is now stuck in mid-air, unable to descend or ascend, frozen at a specific height above the ocean waters below. A storm appears, forcing the crippled vessel to be carried westward in the furious current of the moment, lashed by wind-gusts and torrential patterns of rain. The balloon tears open causing a rapid descent toward the angry waters swirling beneath the imperiled craft. Capt. Harding orders everything of weight to be thrown out, guns, food, ammunition, all in order to reduce heaviness. Everyone must climb the rigging to get closer to the balloon in hopes of jettisoning the wicker basket as a further measure of weight reduction. It is a precarious moment and Herbert hesitates as he looks down upon the violently churning sea far below. Capt. Harding orders Herbert to make a snap decision, "You climb or you drown!" This scene features a magnificent portrait of the sea and the ruptured balloon as the basket is cut loose and falls to earth below. The music of Bernard Herrmann adds immensely to the overall excitement, flavor and atmosphere of the special effects introduced by Ray Harryhausen and the artists involved in this thrilling fantasy film.
There are windswept days in the Arizona Desert where seemingly every color of the spectrum may be examined upon close inspection. This particular area is just north of McKellips Road and Crismon Road in East Mesa, an area where Usery Mountain Regional Park stands adjacent to Tonto National Forest. After a period of seasonal rain, it is amazing to see how green this area becomes, bursting with lime-green, yellow-green, emerald green and dozens of other varieties of spectacular hues. When the desert is dry, one notices the rust-colors, the tans, the yellow ochres, the bleached greys, faded green hues and ashen rocks. The wildlife also exhibits great variety of color, from flashy iridescent hummingbirds to motley colored songbirds and rustic desert quail. Once I visited a Park nearby and witnessed Harris hawks sailing high overhead, looking like noble black falcons on a cerulean blue sky. I am reminded of a phrase coined by American artist Wolf Kahn, a gifted painter and fantastic landscape artist. Kahn once told a group of Drew University art students that he was intrigued by "the tangles of nature," those outdoor spectacles we notice when we truly study and observe the natural environment which surrounds us. The Arizona Desert is indeed such an environment, filled with tangles and colorful spectacles stretching from the desert floor all the way to the blue-grey, purple and lavender mountain peaks.
I love the contrasts between light & shadow upon the desert mountains of Arizona. This area is known as Usery Mountain Regional Park, located just 20 minutes from my home in Mesa. The Park encompasses 3,648 acres and is situated at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains, adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. Pass Mountain rises to 2,840 feet and features a spectacular hiking trail which allows views of 70 or more miles into the distance beyond. The lower Sonoran Desert is a fascinating place offering a wealth of rich color and a diverse variety of flora & fauna. On a bright day with palatial clouds sailing overhead, you can absorb the pulse and atmosphere of this remarkable environment. As you take in the sweet birdsong and distant calls of wildlife, for just a moment you begin to absorb the manifold beauties of the wilderness preserve.
Journeys & Visions Along the Urban Landscape
Often we encounter glimpses of things which might ordinarily escape our notice. In the 1960's I frequently traveled via the Jersey Central Railroad to Newark from the station at Dunellen on my way to New York City. As you approach the more densely populated areas, one notices a more commercial, urbanized landscape and fewer pockets of picturesque trees. Yet I distinctly remember gazing dreamily northwards from the windows of the eastward-bound train as I prepared for a day in the City.
To Gauge the Map of Tracks, Trees & Hills
As you approach Plainfield, there is a point somewhere in the vicinity of Leland Avenue which affords an expansive view to the north. On one eventful train trip many years ago, I just happened to casually glance in this direction and noticed a spectacular sight which I had never seen before. Just overhead from the dense pocket of trees to the north, in the distance I could discern a beautiful building shining in the early morning sun. It was on the southern side of one of the Watchung Hills, looking like a magnificent palace, a stone castle or royal chateau. As the train crosses Terrill Road, you can still see this building quite clearly, but the image fades as you edge toward Martine Avenue, eventually dropping from sight as you approach Westfield Road. This view lasts only a brief moment on the moving train, then vanishes altogether, not to be seen again until the long homeward-bound journey.
A Vision Upon the Watchung Hills
The beautiful building within sight of the train is known as Mount Saint Mary Academy, an independent school which offers a college preparatory program for young women, 9th through 12th grade. Situated in Watchung, just north of Plainfield along Route 22, the Academy is under the direction of the Sisters of Mercy of the Mid-Atlantic. The first building to house the Academy was erected in 1908, unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1911. The new building (the present structure) was rebuilt in 1912, featuring a prominent bell tower with the inscription "Gratias Agamus Domino Deo Nostro," (We give thanks to God). Whenever I had occasion to travel via the Jersey Central, I would earnestly look northwards to see if I could spot the bell tower and the imposing facade of this magnificent building. On certain days, if the weather was overcast and grey with slight rain or fog, you might totally miss the vision upon the hill and the grounds adjacent to the Academy. If the trees seemed to grow somewhat taller, the view could be completely cut off and suspended from sight. Sometimes you really had to search the horizon or you might miss the occasion in a matter of moments.
Andante pastorale from Symphony No. 3 by Composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931)
There is a passage in this remarkable symphony (FS 60, Op. 27 "Sinfonia espansiva," composed in 1910-11) where two soloists enter the second movement and sing wordlessly in the "Ah" vowel, echoing one another and sounding profoundly beautiful together amidst the splendor of the orchestra. These two voices seemingly appear out of nowhere and rise to glorious heights of harmonious expression, drawing the listener in toward one of the most transcendent moments in all of Classical music. I find this music to be thrilling and resplendent in an all-encompassing manner, especially in the version offered by Dacapo with Michael Schonwandt conducting the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. In this performance, Inger Dam-Jensen sings the soprano part and Poul Elming the tenor part, recorded in cooperation with Danmarks Radio. (This recording is also available on Naxos.)
A Brief But Glorious View
The second movement of Nielsen's 3rd Symphony illustrates how a moment of divine music may inspire us in an extraordinary and long-lived manner. It is just a brief interlude in the overall structure of the Symphony, a passage which Nielsen refers to as "the purest idyll." Yet this passage reflects a visionary summit peak, a moment where voices soar wordlessly over the enchantment of the symphony orchestra. It is a reminder of the art of perspective, a vital reflection of looking upward and outward and noticing something we might have previously missed. From the train to a brief vision of the mountainside Academy, from a momentary passage in music, or from the written notes of Carl Nielsen regarding his Symphony, we may each engage "...a certain expansive happiness about being able to participate in the work of life and the day and to see activity and ability manifested on all sides around us."