I have placed two recent scores on my website. As usual these are available to download and distribute for free, so please do head on over if you are at all interested and help yourself, but read the copyright notice carefully.
Levavi Oculos is here
Tu Es Petrus is here
After the recent peregrinations I am attempting to make the most of my time at home, catching up on all those emails and loose ends, making sure that the cats get their cuddles and that the appropriate humans get the time and attention that they need. We wandered up the High Street yesterday, stopping to chat with various people and shopkeepers, and later this week our local coffee shop (not one of the big chains) is hosting a cinema evening, arty too. A double bill of impenetrable Russian doom and gloom, including Solaris, my favourite film by some way, and not a bad book either. The other film of the evening will be more by Tarkovsky, a film I won but have not yet seen, shame on me, so it will be quite the night.
I find Solaris bafflingly weird (which is part of the point) and also profoundly moving and disturbing. Lem’s original novel takes an unusual approach to these kinds of subjects, dropping us into an already developed narrative and taking us out again abruptly at the end, while the part of the story that we witness is all confusion, smoke and mirrors. We cannot possibly, thinks Lem, begin to comprehend any alien intelligence, and the attempts to understand a presumably living planet underpin the story, as it manifests itself in the memories of those who observe it, becoming the flesh of the dead. No wonder the inhabitants of the space station slowly unravel.
What I had forgotten about Solaris, and what I remember now, is that the film is underpinned by Bach’s organ prelude Ich ruf zu dir, a beautiful and beguiling miniature. I played this at Nick Gale’s funeral as his coffin was carried out of the Cathedral and have not played it since. While Nick was not nearly as devoted to Bach as I am, I wanted to play something appropriate, profound, and that would bring my thoughts back to him whenever I heard or played it again. Maybe something was stirring in the depths of my mind, for Solaris asks probing questions about death, memory and loss, and, while I disagree profoundly with the view that art should ask questions and then sit on its hands when it comes to providing answers, what I find so beautiful about the film is that it embraces so many different explanations without enforcing any single one of them. Like the ocean on the planet itself, Lem’s book and Tarkovsky’s film are alive and turbulent with possibilities. Rather like Bach’s music.