Friday, 15 April 2011

Need cheering up? Meet the ox on the roof!

It was always going to be one of those days. I won't bore you with it. Let's just say domestic appliances... dishwasher defunct and surrounded by towels... boiler also defunct... no heating... no hot water. My husband insists these things don't come in threes; I, on the other hand, am bracing myself.

So, I needed cheering up. My usual strategy for achieving this is a long, brisk walk around the lovely woodland near our home. I invariably return refreshed and in a better frame of mind. It works even better if I have my iPod with me, and can put on some really rousing music.

The appeal of music is such a deep-seated, ancient, mysterious thing. I always wonder at its ability to act as a lifter-of-spirits. There are pieces of music I know I can rely on when I'm not in a very good mood, which I trust to have me transformed by the time they've drawn to a conclusion.

This morning, I shared my walk with Darius Milhaud and his 'Le Boeuf sur le Toit' ('The Ox on the Roof'). This lively, joyous piece, a quarter of an hour long, is based on popular Brazilian tunes, and was turned into a ballet by Jean Cocteau, premiering in 1920. It is full of vitality, dance rhythms and delicious, crunchy discords - invigorating and life-affirming.

I returned from my walk, and found that Monsieur Milhaud and his trusty Boeuf had done their job. I listened to the piece again. I danced round the kitchen, managing to avoid the dishwasher in the middle of the room, and warmed up so effectively that it didn't really matter that the heating was broken. Something of a result. 

There are lots of options for sampling this lovely piece on YouTube, but the clip I really like is this one: Michela Chiara Borghese and Sabrina De Carlo in a performance for one piano, four hands and, rather beautifully, two pairs of bare feet.

A word of warning, though. This is catchy! So be careful. If I don't listen to something else soon, to get this tune out of my head so that I stop humming it, it may well be my long-suffering husband who will end up 'sur le toit', and that would never do.

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