On summer's hottest day, musical sizzle is counterproductive, so put your headphones on the rocks
Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian laid out a list of hot-summer songs in today's paper (try as I might, I can't find the story on our website). So I have my colleage to blame for having Ella Fitzgerald singing "It's Too Darn Hot" stuck in my brain all morning.
Using that song as a mantra when even a short dog walk drenches my t-shirt in sweat is, for me, counter-productive. I think we need to serve up the day, and our headphones, on the rocks.
So here are three art-music pieces to chill by. Your suggestions are welcome -- either here, or emailed to email@example.com.
1. "Soundstill VI" from the late Ann Southam's Pond Life suite for solo piano, as performed by Christina Petrowska Quilico. You have to approach this like a meditation exercise, and don't be put off by what sounds like a serialist tone row developing at the start of the piece.
2. The 1930 arrangement for small orchestra of "The Housatonic at Stockbridge" from Three Places in New England, by Charles Ives, inspried by a hike he and wife Harmony took as newlyweds in the Berkshires in the summer of 1908.
First, the lines of verse by Robert Underwood Johnson that inspired Ives as much as the views and atmosphere in Stockbridge, Mass.:
Contented river! In thy dreamy realm
The cloudy willow and the plumy elm:
From ev'ry dreamy hill
what eye but wanders with thee at thy will,
And yet over-shy
To mask thy beauty from the eager eye;
Hast thou a thought to hide from field and town?
In some deep current of the sunlit brown
Ah! there's a restive ripple,
And the swift red leaves
September's firstlings faster drift;
Wouldst thou away, dear stream?
Come, whisper near!
I also of much resting have a fear:
Let me tomorrow thy companion be,
By fall and shallow to the adventurous sea!
3. "Jeux d'eau" by Maurice Ravel, inspired by French symbolist poet Henri de Régnier's verse "Fête d'eau." Ravel included this line from the poem with the piece, which I'm translating as "The river god laughing at the water that tickles him." Jean-Yves Thibaudet gets just the right amount of splash going: