Still from the movie The Red Violin 1998
“In the end we shall have had enough of cynicism, skepticism and humbug, and we shall want to live more musically.” ― Vincent van Gogh
Portrait of Sir John Barbirolli (1899–1970), John Singer Sargent
First violins and second violins, stage right. Violas, celli and basses, stage left. Their positions as integral as the notes they play, the members of the orchestra take to the stage. Brass, woodwinds and percussion fill in the mid and rear, the din of the warm-up as musical as the score itself. In full tux and tails, the conductor takes the podium, raises his baton and orchestrates a moment of tense silence. Spotlit, he turns to the audience and smiles. In the glimmer of his assured knowing, we instantly recognize the smile.
An He Rose and Violin
Christopher Chong’s passion for music and art have long fueled his passion for perfume. He recognizes, explores and celebrates the core facets of beauty: harmony, order and proportion. From these elements, he brings us one of his most breathtaking creations to date and within it, a brilliant olfactory maneuver in rose, accomplished by applying the rules of musical harmony.
RED VIOLIN, Carlo Cecchi, Irene Grazioli, Movie1998, (c) Lions Gate
Ever-inspired, Mr. Chong turned to the 1998 film The Red Violin, which tells the epic story of a mysterious red-colored violin passed from owner to owner over the course of four centuries. Built in 1681, its creator infused the blood of his wife into the finish, an effort to keep her memory alive forever. The violin’s journey across continents and centuries has conceptually set the stage for the next chapter in Amouage’s Library Collection: Opus X.
Like the four strings on a violin, Opus X has four unique rose accords: Rose Centifolia, Bloody Rose Accord, Rosebud, and Rose Oxide. Each a harmonic interval ranging from deep and rich to bright and airy. Together, they create a chordal dimensionality, as explained by Mr. Chong: “The first string of this violin plays a Rose Centifolia note, in which the flower shows its magnificence, luminosity and voluptuousness. The second string resonates a Bloody Rose accord adding mystery and sensuality. A lyrical ode of Rosebud brings glow and radiance to the perfume as the third string. Finally, Rose Oxide covers the perfume with a metallic veil. The culmination is a powerful and multifaceted Rose vibrating on different scales whilst unveiling its beauty and olfactive richness.” And it’s spectacular.
Admittedly, as the individual rose notes blend together so seamlessly, I can’t distinguish which rose is which. I can, however, detect a smoldering incense-y rose, an uber-realistic rose, a bright and creamy rose (a la Lyric Man) and a metallic rosiness which must be the oxide that seems to echo the drop of blood in the varnish. Never fear; this is not your grandmother’s rose.
She Is Violin Painting by Bojana Randall
Like a conductor slowly bringing in the the woodwinds and brass, other notes round out the composition. According to Christopher, “There is a varnish aspect of Geranium, embroidered with the sensual texture of leather in the heart, intensify and deepen the scent. The final illusion of the woody, floral fragrance is created by the warmth of Ambrarome*, an animalic touch of Ylang-Ylang, and the elegance of Laotian Oud to signify the spirit of an eternal voyage.”
The Violinist Ode to John Singer Sargent. Zhao Kailin
Particularly interesting was the smoldering rose present from the start. Its smokey richness would expectedly be found in the base, but in Opus X, the rose notes remain chordal. It dissipates slightly through the progression, but remains present. Though not listed in the notes, I am perceiving a slight fruitiness, like a bright, juicy peach. It provides additional brightness and levity, but doesn’t’t overtake in an effort to make this a fruity-floral.
One cannot categorize this as masculine or feminine any more than one can categorize music in such a way. The varnish accord, another nod to the violin, resonates the woody richness, and adds a hint of melancholy. It’s like opening a box in the attic and stumbling across a sepia photograph of an ancestor long gone.
Dvorak's Largo from the Going Home New World Symphony
When I think of the journey to Opus X, I, too, think musically. Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” comes to mind, particularly, perhaps, due to the section which became the traditional “Going Home.” In Opus X, Christopher Chong comes home. He turns to face the orchestra, raises his baton. We know and he knows, he is home.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Amouage.
-Michael Devine, Guest Contributor
Art Direction: MichelynCamen
Since the release date of Opus X is not until April 2016, we have a 15ml avant premiere sample from the press pump for a registered reader in the USA, Canada or the EU. To be eligible please leave a comment with what resonated with you about Michael’s review, your thoughts on music and fragrance, and if you have a favorite Opus fragrance from the Library Collection. Draw closes 2/29/2016.
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