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Sandpipers, the Sea, and Ravel’s miraculous Adagio Assai from his Piano Concerto in G

 

Photo by William Foley on Unsplash

Sometimes it’s the experience of a single thing that captures your heart and has you breathless in the face of a miracle. Sometimes it’s the congruence of a number of things. As a young man, I will never forget the day I met a flock of sandpipers up close. I had gone down to the edge of the shore on a sandy beach with a portable tape player. The day was still with barely a breeze, the sun shining, and an ocean as smooth as glass. I sat on the sand at the edge of the sea as gentle waves lapped against me. The music was the pristine magical slow movement of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. A perfect match for the setting. Then, as I sat basking in the magical moment it expanded to a whole new level. A flock of 20 or more tiny sandpipers, dashing and dancing back and forth with the waves at the edge of the shore, approached me. I sat as still as the sea and they came within 6 feet of me before flying away.

These moments of miraculous beauty are what I look for and hold onto when I create music. I seek to create that when collaborating with other artists too. They are moments where the universe conspires to provide the unexpected and connect you profoundly with something beyond explanation. I strive to re-create experiences like that over and over when I sit at the piano. It’s a tall order. I’ve done it. I’ll do it again. The goal is to do it every time.

This experience was so profound for me that, some years later, I created this collagraph print as an abstract visual representation of the piece and the moment.

Ravel’s Adagio Assai (a visual representation of the music by Craig Addy)

If you want to give yourself 8 minutes to meditate on this glorious music, here is a link to a video with the great Martha Argerich performing. Imagine the scene I shared as you listen. Martha Argerich: Ravel – Piano Concerto in G Major | Nobel Prize Concert 2009

Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Adagio assai
Performed by Alicia De Larrocha
(the same recording I listened to)
https://youtu.be/XqjTq6JP7uQ

A better quality recording is this with
Martha Argerich
https://youtu.be/cJOW5mlhH_Y?t=520

 

 

 

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