Thursday, May 26, 2016

An Excursion to the Prado

I'm still rather jet-lagged: you know the feeling, it always feels like 3 am, but you can't get to sleep? So yesterday I just took the path of least resistance and went to the Prado which is just across the street. Mind you, that street is the Paseo del Prado which is a very grand boulevard indeed:

Click to enlarge
Why do Spanish-speaking countries seem to do more spectacular avenues than English-speaking ones? This is just the treed strip in front of the Prado. Then there are four lanes of traffic, another big strip of park, and another four lanes. It reminds me of the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, but the Paseo del Prado is much wider, I think. Here is an engraving from the 18th century:

I forgot to bring my drone with me, so I wasn't able to take any aerial shots, but here is one of the Museo del Prado from Wikipedia:

Click to enlarge

Yes, it's a YUGE museum. It seems to contain the majority of works ever done by Spanish painters, plus a wide selection of ones by Italian, Dutch and German painters. There is a line-up to get tickets, but not too crazy long:

It took perhaps 20 minutes to get through. I fell into conversation with a Polish fellow who works in London, which passed the time nicely. Once inside, I discovered that no, you can't take photos, even without flash! A bit disappointing. I guess I wasn't expecting that because the last museum I was in, the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, taking photos was perfectly acceptable. Anyway, I got this shot before they told me not to. This is a 17th century table top made from semi-precious stones:

I have one just like it at home... 8^)

Instead of a handout, they have the names of the painters in their collection engraved in the wall beside the entrance. These are some of the Italians:

After a couple of hours wandering somewhat randomly, I played out and started back. On the way I grabbed some lunch. Let me remind you (and myself), never eat in a restaurant located so as to appeal to the tourist trade. Always find one on a side street. This after paying twice as much for a meal half as good as the one I had yesterday at Terramundi.

And this is the somewhat unprepossessing facade of my hotel (which is really very nice inside):

If I were rich I would be staying at the Ritz, which is next door to the Prado:

So that was my day. Except in the evening I went out to see if Terramundi was open for dinner to discover, that no, it just does lunch. All the restaurants on the street seem the same. The only places open were a couple of bars, which do offer food. Spain is different this way. The big meal is lunch and that is when the restaurants are open. Everything else is a snack and you go to a bar. They offer all sorts of very nice sandwiches and other things. I had a beer, slices of boiled ham with paprika, some very nice bread and a dish of olives.

It seems easy to meet people: just down from me at the bar was a fellow who started a conversation. He was Spanish, but spoke perfect English with a British accent because he went to school there. We had a fascinating discussion about politics and economics and seemed to have fairly similar views. The same with the Polish fellow I talked to earlier. I almost feel at home here!

So that's all for now. Today I hope to actually get some composing done! And here is some music to end with. This is the Ritual Fire Dance from Manuel de Falla's El Amor Brujo, Daniel Barenboim at the stick with the Chicago Boys:


Christine Lacroix said...

I've only just realized that you're on my schedule now so I won't need to wait til Friday night or Saturday morning for the Friday Miscellanea. Jet lag, what a bummer!

I was surprised when you said you were planning on taking pictures in the Prado and wishing you luck! Hope you weren't too disappointed.I don't know why they've made that rule. Annoying.
It's fun following your trip. Remember, Bryan, when suitcases didn't have wheels? And they weighed a ton? Huffing and puffing, pulling, dragging ,shoving the damn things through those long airport corridors?

That's an wonderful version of the Ritual Fire Dance that you posted. Have you heard the cello version by a very young Luka Šulić?

and here he is again playing Tchaikovsky Pezzo capriccioso.

Bryan could I suggest that you create link on your homepage where we could find in one click all of your performances? I enjoyed your Asturias. Thanks for that! Have a good day and keep us posted please!

Christine Lacroix said...

and here's guitar and cello:
Hope you like it!

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks for the comment Christine. Yes, we are now in the same time zone! Europe surprises me because so much of it, everything from Spain to Poland, is all one time. In Canada, it seems nearly every province has its own time zone--half an hour later in Newfoundland.

Re my performances. After I get back, one project I am going to take up is possibly starting a record company or some other channel for making available performances and compositions to the public. I'm working on it!

I'll have a listen to Luka when I get a chance.

Christine Lacroix said...

The music industry seems to be changing pretty fast. 2Cellos recorded a large part of their last album in a hotel room using a laptop computer. Isn't that surprising? Did you see there was an article in yesterday's New York Times about them?

They call them 'classical crossover' which I find very annoying since they don't do classical crossover.

I'd like for you to make it easier for us to find your music on your blog for a start! And what's wrong with YouTube?

Bryan Townsend said...

I need a marketing department!!

Craig said...

It's been good to hear about your travels, Bryan. I hope you continue to enjoy yourself.

The highlight of my visit to the Prado was seeing van der Weyden's Deposition from the Cross. I didn't know the painting before, but when I came around a corner and saw it hanging there I actually began to weep -- very unusual for me. Those faces. And the colours! I must have stayed and looked at it for half on hour, and I wasn't alone. A very beautiful painting.

I also spent several happy hours in the Bosch room. I know they had loaned their Bosches to a museum in the Netherlands for a few months. Were they back yet?

Bryan Townsend said...

Hi Craig,

I haven't seen the Bosches yet, but I think they must be back because they are advertising an upcoming new exhibit of all theirs plus ones from other museums--a special Bosch exhibit. My first visit I just did Velazquez and Goya. It is such a huge museum.

Christine Lacroix said...

So, how was your day?