Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Feux d'Artifice

There's a famous piano piece, by Debussy, titled Feux d'Artifice (or "fireworks"). There's a nice rendition of it here on YouTube, performed by Marc-AndrĂ© Hamelin. It's vintage Debussy, filled with murmuring vibrations and poly-tonal runs and trills. Mists and vague intuitions float over distant visions and shimmering images. It's from the composer's Preludes Book II. In some ways, music--classical music--was never the same after Debussy, and in the same way we haven't "gotten beyond" the kinds of effects and emotions he was able to evoke through his work. 

Usually, Impressionism in music lends itself best to water effects or metaphors, and there are plenty of those in Debussy's work. He wrote a huge three-paneled work entitled simply La Mer, in which the whole classical orchestra works to create varied impressions of the sea. Fountains are very big in Europe. Sometimes, though, one is not sure whether a Debussy piece is about water, or fire. Feux d'Artifice could be about walking along a dashing mountain stream, as much as about watching a big fireworks display in the night sky. Such interpretive vagaries belong to the ambiguity of our impressions, how certain sounds are perceived by the individual listener, and what they may suggest, given our imaginations and unique experiences. Pure music as opposed to "programmatic" music--it's supposed to be a distinction with meaning, but such definitions are never clear cut in art. 

In any event, here's a new light cocktail mix, which celebrates the light-hearted spirit of French Impressionism. The recipe is for two servings.

2 parts Midori
2 parts Triple Sec
4 shakes of Angostura Bitters
4 shakes of Green Chartreuse

These are mixed together with crushed ice, and then poured into chilled cocktail glasses, to which is added enough bottled Pellegrino water to bring them up to full. 

Its effect is similar to a champagne cocktail, but you don't have to open a bottle of champagne to make this one. Champagne cocktails are a problem because it's hard to justify killing a whole bottle of the stuff just to make a couple of drinks. If you don't drink it right away, it goes flat, and there's nothing less enticing than champagne that's gone flat! This mix solves that problem. 

Spring is coming! [March 19th] So pack away your troubles and indulge in these foolish things! 


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