Sunday, 9 September 2012

Sunday Night is ...Britten's Four Sea Interludes

All four Interludes from 'Peter Grimes', performed by 
the Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra,  Conductor: Paavo Järvi

Today we went down to the sea at Winterton with our daughter, Helen, and her two children, Marlie and Lukas. Marlie is not yet two and a half, Lukas is just eight months old and teething. Rich, Helen's husband was busy putting up an exhibition in Norwich that opens tomorrow.

Winterton is familiar to us. It has been a habit  for usto go there with friends on New Year's Day and walk along the beach to see the baby seals. It's a long, wide beach and almost empty in the winter but for people exercising their dogs. Today it was hot by British standards at 29C - the last hot day of the season we are told - so there were plenty of people taking advantage, lying behind windbreaks, having picnics.

Marlie is at a delightful age when she is constantly talking and forming long sentences - apparently she greeted her parents this morning with the phrase: 'Good morning you lovely people'.  The last time she saw the sea was in October, so I was assuming her excitement at seeing it now would have increased along with her ability to respond to the world in ever more complex language.

We set up our own windbreak - there was a very strong wind -  then I walked Marlie down to the sea itself. We stopped just before the flat shiny part at the very edge and she just looked. We took another tentative step or two on to the wet sand and stopped again. I could see she was thinking, and for a moment or two I thought she was going to cry. I took a further step in and let the flat curl of cool water tickle my feet. She felt a little bit too.

She wasn't sure whether this was fun or something else. Then she announced she was scared. There were people swimming in the water and a little boy ran into it. There was nothing intrinsically frightening about the scene, but her imagination had kicked in. The size, the idea, the sense, the vague concept of the vast thing in front of her must have stirred something. So we walked back up to the top of the beach.

Later she went down again, once with Helen and I, then once with Clarissa, but the wariness was still there. On the way home she chattered away quite happily.

It is fascinating how a child responds to what she doesn't yet know, and maybe cannot understand. What is 'big' to her? What is danger? What is the sea?

The sun beat down the whole day.

Britten's Sea Interludes were a natural choice, with that wonderful Dawn opening. I liked the Bernstein version best but that is one interlude at a time, this does all four. This is the fearsome sea of course, ending with a storm.


Dennis Tomlinson said...

When I was a little boy my grandparents lived in a village not far from Norwich. I read a rhyme that listed the seaside resorts of Norfolk and their peculiarities.I remember only the last two lines:

Damn and bugger old Winterton.
How cold she do blow!

George S said...

I like that, Dennis. I wish we could find that rhyme.

Dafydd John said...

I was sitting in a very fine old square in Donostia just a couple of weeks ago, fortified by a cold, generous glass of rosado and a book. But I was also looking at a group of young children playing with each other, but also playing, teasing, running away from (not too far!) and constantly checking for their parents' presence. It is charming, heartwarming but also I find utterly heartbreaking. Heartbreaking, because it is such a transitory phase, and that innocence will transform itself into something quite different, quite soon.

I realise that many people might find this a rather odd/extreme reaction.

I'm trying to write something about it, but it's actually pretty hard!

George S said...

No, I think that is an absolutely natural reaction. The most moving reactions are not sentimental but spring from complex currents of feeling that somehow resolve into an image that comes along and opens a channel for the feelings.