Mary Bee Cuddy in a video combining auditive and visual Americana

I uploaded a video on my YouTubechannel dedicated to Mary Bee Cuddy, the leading female character in The Homesman (USA, 2014), a film directed by Tommy Lee Jones.

Wikipedia tells us: “The film shows the unsparingly harsh and difficult life of early settlers of the American Midwest in the 1850s. The Homesman has been called a ‘feminist western’. Critics have noted that the lives of women during this time are rarely explored, as opposed to men, (…).”

I am impressed by the story of Mary Bee Cuddy (played by Hillary Swank), the courageous and compassionate leading female character in The Homesman.

Except for one, all photos in the video are stills from the film (btw: notice my choice for presenting them in ‘sepia big grain’), and most of them focus on Mary Bee Cuddy. I combine these shots with music by John Adams: Christian Zeal and Activity, as I tend to associate this piece of music with Cuddy’s character and outlook on life. IMHO John Adams‘ music and the stills from The Homesman offer a good combination of auditive and visual Americana. I hope you’ll grasp that unmistakeable Americana-feel as you watch the video.


The pleasurable sensuousness of ‘Eros Piano’

Eros Piano, a work by John Adams, is such a delightful piece. If I were a concert pianist it would be part of my repertory for sure! 🙂 YouTube offers only one performance of Eros Piano, the one here above, played by pianist Jay Gottlieb with L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris conducted by John Nelson.

Composer John Adams wrote the work – almost a small piano concerto in one movement – in memory of two of his composer heroes, Morton Feldman and Toru Takemitsu. About the music Adams wrote that it’s “a quiet, dreamy soliloquy for piano, played against a soft, lush fabric of orchestral screens and clusters. It was a direct response on my part to a piece by Toru Takemitsu, riverrun, that I had heard in a performance by the English pianist Paul Crossley. (..) I wrote Eros Piano as a tribute to Takemitsu, to Bill Evans, and also to Paul Crossley, whose exquisitly balanced sense of color and attack in music by Debussy, Ravel, Messiaen and Takemitsu reminded me so strongly of that of Bill Evans.”

Pianist Jay Gottlieb with L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris conducted by John Nelson deliver an enjoyable and admirable performance, but is that enough? Do they reveal the work’s sophisticated soul? I think I’ve heard better in another performance, a well known one, played by pianist Paul Crossley with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s/The London Sinfonietta, conducted by composer John Adams himself and available on the album American Elegies (1991). In my opinion Crossley, Adams and the London Sinfonietta are more convincing in revealing the work’s pleasurable sensuousness and this comes across in many wonderful tonal colours and in their highly sophisticated outline of the work’s dynamics.