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Friday, July 4, 2014

Big Voices

OPERA! and lots of it

"Dust the rest of Al's records," Eurithe asked as she prepared to leave for the West.

Another dusty day in paradise.

And Paradise it was indeed.

All Russian labelling - a souvenir?

I'd read about Al's prodigious record collection, and his enthusiasm for sharing his favourites.

David Helwig writes in The Years (a chapter in the Al Purdy A-frame Anthology, Harbour Publishing 2009) about Al playing favourite recordings during one of Helwig's and Tom Marshall's visits to Roblin Lake.
so many big voices in the collection - surprised?

He remembers listening to Burns' 'Ae Fond Kiss, Kenneth McKellar singing about the Bonny Earl of Moray.

 In 'Remembering Al' (same anthology) Janet Lunn recalls Al's enthusiasm for Paul Robson and the Soviet Army Chorus "singing as loudly as his record player would play....He'd dance around the room - well, maybe not exactly dance, it was more like leaping - wildly directing the chorus with his arms and demanding of everyone in the room, 'Isn't that wonderful!'"

Isn't that a picture to take home with you?
eclectic! These 3 titles came off the shelf, one after the other 

Acorn's influence?

I checked Al's poetry for reflections of this love of music. Sure, there's 'The Freezing Music', which has to do with the tiny crystalline tinkling of ice crystals forming. No Red Army Chorus grandness there.

The poem 'Orchestra' (from Collected Poems -1986) doesn't suggest a lover of symphonic music (but Al's collection would belie that):

"Hairs of dead horses torturing wood
-the sound remotely equine
reminds me of a dream classroom
of nightmare urchins their fingernails
all at once scraping a blackboard
I listen and go mad...."

Lots more violent imagery and sound pictures. None of it suggests musical passion.

A different 'Orchestra' appears in The Woman on the Shore (1990). It talks about musicians'  experience of performing - of transcendence. A grand poem, with a symphonic structure. Need to be read in its entirety. But I do like these lines especially:

"They do not know where their bodies are
their flesh has fled
inside the blonde cello
into the warm red darkness
of the cherry-coloured violin
-and they are looking for their souls"

There must be more. I must consult George Bowering or Sam Solecki, both waiting on my shelf to edify me.
But for now, must go turn up some very loud music. And direct. And imagine Al doing the same.

interview tapes - I have the Wild Grape Wine copy
Al signed for Ron Bates of CBC Sudbury

'The Grundig' with its fine voice

 Michele says that she and Eurithe once had the Grundig - a fine piece of German sound technology - working. Hope we can do that again sometime. Play some Soviet Army Chorus records. Loud.

recordings were sorted using home-made dividers
Spoken word. Big male choirs. Folk music, from cowboy and roustabout songs to Benjamin Britten and the folk songs of John Donne. Opera and lots of it. Miriam Makeba. Symphonies. Old smarmy standards like John McCormach's 'Come into the Garden Maude'.

Some pretty arcane stuff. Poems of A. Tennyson read by Dame Sybil Thorndike (99 cents).

A lot of Corby Public Library discards.

budget consciousness ran in the family
not a lot of call for spoken word - bargains!

the original record 'album' - old lacquer records
embossed albums, brown paper sleeves, indexes

From the days when owning music was serious stuff. Not for the faint of heart. The collection was sorted, divided by home-made tabs created from over-runs of Purdy's A Handful of Earth book covers.

 New words like 'Stereophonic', 'Long Play 33-1/3'
'Capitol Duophonic - for stereo phonographs only.'

The album art...there's another rainy day exploration.

Oh A-frame dwellers, do have a close look at this astounding relic of an omnivorous music lover.
Never know where a poem might come from.

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