Monday, March 12, 2012

Perfuming the Posy: Lincolnshire That Is (Mvt 4 - The Brisk Young Sailor)

*Current Fragrance: L'Ombre dans l'Eau from Diptyque
*Currently Listening: Like a Prayer by Madonna

Eeeek! I'm incredibly excited about starting in on these types of Musical Monday posts! But first...sweet baby Jesus in the in all of the world did THIS happen!?!? If Lamar beats Vermont on Wednesday, then I am in store for a problem that I NEVER thought I'd encounter in mine and Al's life: An Alma Mater vs. Alma Mater face-off during The Dance. I keep just laughing and shaking my head. Yes, God has a sense of humor about many things. Basketball and my life is one of them.

Back to perfume and the Posy. I'm really hoping that I don't turn this into a six part installment of program notes with some fragrancing thrown in. I was going to reference my score from time to time, but 1) (and mostly) I can't quickly put my hands on it, and 2) if you really, really are that curious about the context of instrument x's entrance in measure y, then YOU should probably be looking at the score yourself. Minor translation: This is supposed to be fun for me, DAMN IT!

I must say, though - a little background information is in order. Australian composer Percy Grainger and Lucy E. Broadwood (ok, she did one) collected folk-songs in Lincolnshire, England with the help of a wax-cylinder phonograph in 1905-1906. After going through several reincarnations, the settings found their way into Grainger's "Lincolnshire Posy" for wind band in 1937.

Percy Grainger: Careful, he's quite the character.
Grainger dedicated his bunch of "musical wildflowers" to "the old folksingers who sang so sweetly to me." Each movement is just as much of a portrait of the singer and his/her singing style and delivery as it is a resetting of the melodic content. Compared to all the other movements, there least is said of The Brisk Young Sailor: "Mrs. Thomson (the singer of The Brisk Young Sailor), though living in Barrow-on-Humber, North Lincolnshire, came originally from Liverpool."

I don't so much want my...ehhh...shall I call them, "fragranced representations" of the movement be a very literal interpretation of the score, or how it was sung to Grainger, or the emotional content of the lyrics; for that is a pretty static use of fragrance. I had a lot of gut reactions for some of these movements with what fragrance to do with. I know this piece pretty well, and it's very special to me. Conversely, fragrances close to my heart are going to crop up in the process. I really want the scents I choose to reflect my experiences and emotional ties to the movements. These are to varying degrees, as you will find out as this process skips around the piece and unfolds. First, take a listen to the fourth movement... (It takes less than 2 minutes)

This was the second of the six movements that came to me fragrance wise. The first was a particular fragrance that I IMMEDIATELY linked with a particular movement (I'm thinking it will be next week's Musical Monday), then for this movement, it the fragrance House was abundantly clear - "Jo Malone!" I though, "British, not too froo-froo flowery, and oh-so-fleeting. Just like this movement!"

Picture this if you will: Yours truly, standing at my local Saks Jo Malone counter with my ear-buds in, listening to my favorite recording of The Brisk Young Sailor on repeat, spray and sniffing what I thought was the best fragranced "fit". I'm sure I came off as a complete loon, but that's OK, because I'm quite happy with what I came up with! Ultimately I ended up choosing White Jasmine & Mint, with Peony & Moss being a very close second.

I think this movement sparkles in its refinement. It wants to go outside the lines, it can't...just can't...and in a flash it's gone. Also, when the clarinet player in me hears this movement, my inner monologue just goes, "shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!" It's that little revelation that I was reminded of while I was standing at the Jo Malone counter and I felt my heart start to beat a little faster. (It wasn't the "oooh, I just smelled something that really got me going sort of way," NO in a "OMFG, I think I'm about to get eaten by a [metaphorical] bear, I best go eat a banana before I perform" sort of way.) This is why the mint won out in the end, as it is the single most soothing note to me, and as this is my little narrative, my rules...I win! ;-)

I imagine our "hero" The Brisk Young Sailor who, subtitlely, is returning to wed his true love; strolling up a shoddily paved road picking picking wild flowers as he goes, with the sea-breeze at his back subtly swirling a minty, herbal, saline effervescence at his back. The bouquet starts off small, maybe just a few lilies to begin with. As the music progresses, so does our sailor. The bouquet, just as the music becomes more dense and sonically fragrant; as the sailor added roses, jasmine and orange blossom as he continues to walk. All the while the leaves and petals flutter in the subtle agitation of the breeze continuing to blow at his back, much more minty now - as he is much more inland, ever closer to his beloved.

Jo Malone's White Jasmine & Mint

Super personal note: This one really makes me smile! After some more skin testing, a full bottle just may be making it into my summer fragrance wardrobe, as I have been wanting "a mint", but first I need to fill my Spring "green tea" and "lily" want list.

*Currently Listening: Beautiful Child by Rufus Wainwright

**Photo credits: 1) & 2)

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