My summers oscillate between composers of the Enlightenment such as Haydn and Beethoven, and 1988’s Summer of Love, somewhere between sun-drenched energy and ecstatic dancefloors. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy Haydn’s hundred or so symphonies, at about the rate of one per day. They are an effective antidote to the miasma of sadder seasons.
My season of the sun begins in June at Pentecost, when the sun descends like the tongues of fire upon the heads of the Apostles. To mark this beginning there is no better music than the opening chorus of Bach’s incandescent Cantata BWV 34, coupled with the finale of Haydn’s Symphony 59, The Fire, and its exhilarating horn battle. Summer is also the time for sunny naps. Debussy’s Faun, intoxicated from playing his mysterious flute Syrinx all day, lounges in the sun. Vivaldi’s lovers sigh in the shadows. It’s the summer of love.
The sensual, soothing movement of Rachmaninov’s 2nd Concerto becomes a heady night of love under the fingers of Daniil Trifonov. Lovers answer the call of Saint-Saëns’ “Désir d'amour”. Sounds and pheromones swirl in the nocturnal air orchestrated by Gabriel Dupont where Chausson’s “Hummingbird” is buzzing. They become memories in Samuel Barber’s music, to which The Doors, Bon Entendeur and Etienne Daho tip a wink.
So to the other side of this warm season: the eternal party begun in 1988, where no one counted the days and nights under the Balearic sun. The polyphonic rise of TB 303 orchestrated by Oliver Bondzio, the shrill cicadas of “Sueno Latino” revisited by Derrick May, The Orb burning after hours echoing the founders of Pink Floyd. And what would summer be without a nice storm where you can dance naked in the rain? I leave it to Vivaldi, Rameau, Grofé and Clérambault to provide that, just before the arrival of John Adams’ rainbow.