Friday, July 20, 2007

Classic Cat Radio - "The Trout"

Good afternoon. This is Riker Cat, coming to you from Maryland, USA, bringing you only the finest in classical music. (You won't actually hear it of course because this is a blog, and not an actual radio station.)

Today is our inaugural broadcast and I thought we would start off with a tasty morsel composed in the early 19th century by Franz Schubert. He must have had cats in mind when he wrote this lovely piano quintet because he based the fourth-movement theme and variations on a poem by another fellow named Schubert (no relation) called The Trout. In this poem, Schubert (not the Franz one) wrote about a fish in a sparkling brook that swims about in the sunshine until a cat (I mean fisherman) comes along to catch him. Of course the cat (I mean fisherman) is triumphant in the end. Schubert (the Franz one) was asked by a fellow named Sylvester (definitely a cat name!) to write a piece of music based on a piece he (Schubert {the Franz one} not Sylvester) had written earlier. And this is the result.

As you curl up to enjoy this music, listen for the carefree fish swimming cluelessly about in the brook, and for the water as it trips and flows over rocks and around grassy corners. The mood of the piece changes as the cat (I mean fisherman) enters the scene. He does not realize the sadness he will inflict on this fish's family, only the fact that he will be bringing a bit of supper back to his (family that is). The song bounces back and forth between the fish's point of view and the cat's (um, sorry, fisherman . . . I will get this right eventually) and you can hear this quite poignantly in the 5th variation where the fisherman (I mean cat) is jumping about gleefully excited with his success one moment, and the fish is thrashing about in anguish the next.

So grab some kitty treats, settle down in your favorite spot on the comfy chair, and make your peoples put this music on for you. You won't regret it.

(Your peoples can buy a recording of The Trout from the iTunes Music Store. This one is quite upbeat, and is available in Apple's new higher-quality, non-DRM'd format.)

Oh, Freckles is pawing at me wanting to add another editorial note. Seeing as I totally agree with her I will mention it here. The Trout Piano Quintet is also unusual because it includes string bass (listen for the cool pizzicato part in Variation 2). Freckles and I are quite proficient string bass players. Our peoples occasionally leave it out where we can play it and let me tell you that is quite exciting! Whether you are plucking the strings or simply giving the thing a good smack on the side, it makes a lovely deep sound. If your peoples have a string bass lying about the house you might want to try playing along! It's great fun.

Freckles learning to play string bass. (Photo from Ashton archives)

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Janine said...

I just happened upon this blog - how fabulous! You cats are so enterprising... I must exhort my three (all the same breed, Chartreux) to get more literary. So clever, and so fun. Thank you!
PS - love th painting by Leila Ashton... is she part of the Hall as well? I am an oil painter myself, and do some portraits of animals and in fact, have a current WIP of my own three cats started, so when I saw this painting I was quite awestruck. I particularly appreciate the lovely composition and deft handling of textures.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Vics said...

Hi Janine,

Thank you for kind words. :) Yes, Leila Ashton is part of the family. She is my mother-in-law. I haven't checked in a while, but I think that her name is a link to her web site if you would like to see some of her other work.

From the Ashton Cat's Mum

1:31 PM  

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