Tuesday, April 20, 2004

There are moments, in my life, does this happen to you? Where its as if I can feel the permanent memory being etched into my blueprint, not often mind you but when it happens, the moment is one you know you will always recall in exact detail.

Life slows down, while this printing happens, as if to accommodate the time it takes to press hard with the pencil, to memorize each note of music, to make the path to this storage unit wide and well lit, easy to recall without looking up the address.

When I was in Denmark, there was one of these moments. But even more strange than usual, this time it was as if the moment already existed in my mind, like a negative just waiting to be dunked in the developing solution and colors, images, sounds brought to the paper’s surface. So that when it came to life before my eyes, I became confused, was I reliving a moment I had imagined or dreamed? Was this a memory from a past life or from a movie I had actually seen and just barely remembered?

For some months now, an Adagio has entranced me. In the three times I heard it before my trip, my heart slowed and my concentration drifted as the notes hesitated then hurried matching my breathing, the sighs and leaps mirroring my emotions. The original composer was Tomaso Albinoni, who gave up on the work in frustration, to be resurrected and completed by Remo Giazotto in the 1940s. The last time it played I stopped and listened long enough for the radio announcer to tell the composer and work (Adagio in G minor for organ and strings). Each time, this piece of music seemed to reach out and grab me, as if there were something I should remember about it but couldn’t quite recall.

It was a Sunday afternoon, after a week sightseeing in Denmark. I set out on a late afternoon walk down one of the main pedestrian shopping streets, Amagertorv. I stopped and watched a man do elaborate new age paintings using spray paints, and visited a street fair with various medieval craftspeople. As I approached the Tobaksmuseet (can you guess? Pipe museum!) music, familiar music floated around the corner of a beautiful church steeple. My step quickened, something tugging me forward, to where the street widened out into a square and revealed a young man playing guitar, unbelievably playing Adagio in G minor by Albinoni. Surrounded by and echoing from the stone walls of 1800s buildings, and faintly accompanied by the background music of trickling water from the Storkespringvandet, the notes filled the square with a sound that I can only akin to the way the moon fills a dark sky with a warm glow. Hauntingly beautiful and yet lonely. Here. I am sure that my words cannot convey the rich, full timbre that emanated from this one man’s coaxing from a simple guitar. But. Imagine me, spinning with my arms outstretched, head thrown back with my face to the sky, in slow motion the tears pour down my face and time stands still. Gratitude for the moment, amazement that it was this one special piece he played as I walked into this setting that indeed, seemed to spring to life from some painting or motion picture, anticipated or remembered I cannot say but completely familiar. Grief at all I had lost, in losing the one person in my life who would know exactly how I would feel, in a single strike knowing both what I had, and what was gone. Also joy, that I was still alive and awake to this moment, to this gift, even if it was only me unwrapping it in pleasure.

And now sadness, that no matter how I try, I can’t make the words explain the magic. Even the guitarist, whom I listened to play for as long as he put fingers to strings, looked surprised at the intensity of emotion that poured out of my simple words of thanks. “I think you’ll enjoy the CD. The Albinoni piece is on it.” But you see, it isn’t. Not the one I heard rise up and swell over the necks of the patinaed herons in the fountain, over the heads of the rapt couple, (maybe Italian?) that sat in front of me on a park bench. Not the notes that stopped street person and retired gentry alike, reverberating in doorways and singing to sleep babies pushed in carriages while their mothers shopped. Not the version that perfectly suited late afternoon sun, mellowed brick and the faint smell of pipe tobacco. Not the one I hear in my heart when I recall each detail of the scene.

Can you to hear it?

(get it here)

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