In preparation for my final break before the start of a new music season, I cleared my desk on Thursday and discovered an extra copy of Pond Life, the 2-CD recording of Ann Southam's magically meditative suite for solo piano, as premiered by Christina Petrowska-Quilico last year.
I slipped the first disc into my home system on Thursday afternoon and marvelled anew at how Southam uses the simplest sequence of tones, repeated over and over again with clever variations of pitch and note-value, to create a new world by changing our relationship with both tonality and time.
On Friday, I found Inger Whist's kind note on last year's blog post. Then I discovered that Quilico's live performance of Pond Life at the Glenn Gould Studio has been posted on YouTube.
In our sea of shinier and noisier distractions, Pond Life may never get the attention it deserves. And, in a world where the term genius is tossed around with abandon, it probably means little when I say that I think that the poetry and craft behind this piece of music is pure genius -- as distilled by decades of experience.
But the more time I spend with Pond Life, the more special it becomes.
As I sign off until Sept. 7, I can't think of a better way to reconnect with my inner self, while appreciating the beauty of late summer, than by listening to and immersing myself totally in Pond Life without distraction on interruption.
Accomplishing that is much more difficult than it sounds. But the rewards will be, I suspect, all the richer.
(For noisier moments between now and Labour Day, you can't go wrong with Weeks 7 and 8 of the BBC Proms. There's something fabulous on offer literally every day. For live music locally, check out the remaining concerts at the Toronto Music Garden.)
I'm going to repeat the passage by Lao Tzu, as found in Book 2 of the Tao Te Ching, an ideal textual accompaniment (again, this old translation is by D.C. Lau) to listening to Pond Life:
Great perfection seems chipped,
Yet use will not wear it out;
Great fullness seems empty,
Yet use will not drain it;
Great straightness seems bent;
Great skill seems awkward;
Great eloquence seems tongue-tied.
Restlessness overcomes cold; stillness overcomes heat.
Here is our introduction to Petrowska-Quilico's journey into Pond Life, "Spatial View of Pond 1." For the rest of the YouTube videos, click here: