Last Sunday my husband and I went to the famous Parisian flea market, Le Marché aux Puces. With its 2,500 stalls, Le Marche aux Puces is definitely the largest flea market in Paris and possibly the largest in the world. You can buy just about everything. There are fashion stalls, antiques, paintings, books, jewelry and music. So, among my Sunday acquisitions there was an LP of Rina Ketty. I had not heard of her before. I bought the LP because I liked the cover photo of Rina Ketty in black and white and I also generally like the music of the 1930s-1940s. Rina Ketty has turned out to be one of my wonderful recent music discoveries. The voice of this beautiful, Italian-born singer was a real delight. After starting her career in Montmartre in the 1930s, at the same time as famous painters Salvador Dali, Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso, she changed her name from Cesarina Picchetto to the more romantic and scenic Rina Ketty. She quickly became famous for her voice and slight yet elegant accent. She stopped singing during the Great War. Fame came back to her in 1945. She retired in the 1950s in Quebec, Canada. Every time I feel a little down now I listen to her songs. And suddenly life gets warmer and a much brighter.
A beautifully red disk and oustanding music. Kontinent Rihm by Wolfgang (yes! just as Mozart) Rihm, a German-born composer of contemporary music and author of numerous books, whose oeuvre comprises more than 400 pieces. Wolfgang Rihm composes delicate and ‘silent’ music. Often interpreted by an orchestra of up to 60 people, their performance make his work even more delicate and silent. In Kontinent Rihm, the composer takes works of Anton Webern and his teacher Karlheinz Stockhausen and connects them through his own work. “How to learn from a master?” writes Wolfgang Rihm, “Presumably always in a dual movement: by adopting some things while at teh same time leveling creative criticism. This is how we learn from historical music. The process of melting down and refounding to produce something original progresses through these stages.” The beaitfully red disk was produced by col legno Produktions in 2012. Extracts from Kontinent Rihm are available on Spotify. Text inspired by text written for the CD by Mirko Bonné. Photo in the blog © Jean-Loup Lafont.
Today, October 4, is Violeta Parra’s birthday. Only a few days ago I myself knew nothing about her. Every month my husband and I rent movies from our local public library. Coincidentally “Violeta” was one of the October picks. I chose the film because of its cover. There was something intriguing in the image of this poetic-looking woman holding a guitar. The remarkable film told a rather brutal story of the well-known Chilean leftist poet, folklore singer and composer. It revealed the little-known life of a self-taught musician, a talented and innovative singer and painter; her complicated personality and the intricate existence she led rebelling against the accepted norms of society. Invited to the Warsaw Music Festival, she dashed off to Europe to establish herself as a singer outside of the South American continent, leaving behind her two young children and a newborn. During her lifetime she became the first South American artist to have an exhibition in the Louvre, and she greatly contributed to the evolution of Chilean music. Violeta committed suicide at the age of 49 because of an unhappy love affair with Gilbert Favre, nearly twenty years her junior. Many liked the film because of the actress Francisca Gavilan, who created an excellent interpretation of Violeta, and because of the beautiful music. For me it raised thorny issues about the fate of a woman who chose to live an unconventional life. Forced to make difficult decisions between maintaining her career and being a mother, between her personal freedom and duty, she lived her life the way she […]