Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vinteuil's Sonata

Why is it so difficult to find a recording of Saint-Saens Sonata in D-Minor for Violin and Piano Opus 75? This music inspired the "petite phrase" that became the love song for Swann and Odette. I've been looking for this recording off and on and finally found it in stock (barely) at Amazon. Ordered it, and am looking forward to listening to it over and over in an attempt to make out the peculiar fascination of the music for Proust.

In his biography, Proust, The Early Years, George D. Painter says of Proust, "his imagination was captured by the chief theme of the first movement, a mediocre but haunting melody whose only musical merit is its simplicity and whose fascination comes from its very banality, like that of a popular song. . . " page 214.

The album has a nice cover that might be a French Village where Proust walked and pondered, in fact it looks like Swan's Way. There's a bit of serendipity here, a nice omen.


Will I be able to recognize the phrase?


Monday, October 30, 2006

Paddlin' Madeleine Home

I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake... a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.

Proust describes eating a madeleine, really a cookie, and the past comes rolling back. A madeleine mold resides somewhere in the bowels of my kitchen cabinet. Once I have made the cookies, I'll share how good they really are and whether this recipe, which looks like a pain in the butt, is worthwhile.


4 eggs at room temperature
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 cu sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

Make this recipe for 48 madeleines. If you only have molds for 24, make half the recipe. (Don't you love it?)
The melted butter musn't stand too long.

Grease well and flour pans for 4 dozen madeleines.

Place oven racks near the bottom of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Beat eggs with salt, and add sugar gradually, until the mixture is pale and very thick. ('Forms the rope' in cookspeak). The mixture drops from the beaters to form a rope that gradually disappears. Add vanilla. You will need to beat longer than you think.

Sift about one-quarter of the flour at a time over the egg misture. Fold it in until no flour shows.
Add the butter about a tablespoon at a time and fold it in as quickly as possible. Fill the prepared pans about three-quarters and bake until brown, about 10 minutes.

Yields 4 dozen or 2 dozen depending.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Odette in the Georges Pompidou Centre Restaurant in Paris

Proust Whore

My favorite Monty Python episode: Summarize Proust Contest