Friday, June 12, 2009

A toast to St. Anthony

Tomorrow being the feast of St. Anthony of Padua we should raise a glass of wine in his honor because of this wine miracle he performed. St. Anthony is a saint after my own heart. That is for sure!

I lifted this off a Catholic Web site:

On his way back to Italy after the death of St. Francis (3 October, 1226), he traveled through Provence where, tired from travel, he and his companions entered the house of a poor woman, who placed bread and wine before them. She had forgotten, though, to shut off the tap of the wine-barrel -- and as the wine was running out, one of Anthony's companions broke his glass. Anthony prayed, and the wine barrel was filled up again and the glass was made whole.

Ha, ha! I love the detail of the story. How in the confusion and panic of the wine tap being left on and the wine running out, the friend has to go and break his glass.

Why am I writing about wine? It is only 7 a.m. Well, it is not my fault that St. Anthony performed this miracle.

I found out about it when I was researching St. Anthony because this weekend, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is playing Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony. There is a part in that symphony where you get to hear Mahler's song "St. Anthony of Padua's Sermon to the Fishes."

I love that song because the accompaniment lets you picture the water stirred up and the fish leaping and sparkling in the sunlight. Also the music has this sweet klezmer feel and it is so tender.

Here is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing it. There is a translation to the right of the video. What hilarious graphics! I would never have dreamed this up.

St. Anthony's sermon to the fishes was another miracle he performed. The fish raised their heads out of the water and listened to him. Here is a picture I found that I love. That look on the face of the fish!

Then there is the famous St. Anthony Chorale that is the basis for Brahms' "Variations on a Theme by Haydn."

That is a warhorse of a piece but I am sorry, it is thrilling and uplifting. Once about a year ago I was terribly stressed out and I found the Karajan recording and took it walking in the park every day for a week. I love how at the end of the piece, Brahms has everything fall into place. It all comes together in a rush and it is as if you can see it before your eyes.

The chorale theme is so beautiful and dignified. When I was growing up, the girl next door even got married to it. Her name was Leslie Heinith. She was getting married and she happened to ask my dad for ideas on what music she should play walking down the aisle. And my dad suggested it and Leslie went with it.

It is a beautiful choice! I wish I had thought of it when I got married. I did not know that story then. My mother told me about it later.

Here is the St. Anthony Chorale where you get to watch the music.

Here is a another treatment of the piece and the performance is more professional. These are variations by Arthur Nobile and as the commenter mentions, he works in "Angels We Have Heard on High." Pretty church, in Coral Springs, Florida. The slideshow is also pretty, even though it does end cryptically with a slice of Sacher Torte.

There is another thing I love about the St. Anthony Chorale. I love the middle section, what a jazz man would call "the bridge." The music rises gently and falls gently and it is like breathing. When I was stressed out and walking in the park with it, I would actually breathe along with it. Inhale, exhale. It made me feel better.

The two-piano arrangement of the famous Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn is fun to hear. Here it is with Martha Argerich and Akane Sakai.

Here is part 2. It is great to watch them manage the ending. Wow, that Martha Argerich! I cannot get over her hair.

Speaking of tributes to St. Anthony here is someone who really put it all together. It is a man playing the St. Anthony Chorale on a bunch of wine glasses!

Before learning about that wine miracle, I would not have understood why he would want to do that.

Now I know!

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