Mostly Music
quinta-feira, janeiro 31

Hmmm.... weeellll, I can explain, really... it's like, well, y'know... hmmm.... oh, heck, I was just too plain bored with the old template, that's what!

(I saved a copy of the old one, though, and will e-mail it to you guys in case you miss it too much...)


Hello, friends

We are happy to see that we have visitors from all over - in just the last few days readers have stopped in from Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and the US of A. We would love to hear from you what you would like to see more of in the blog, and what you have enjoyed. Y'all come back soon!
quarta-feira, janeiro 30

A Bach student

William Porter
Johann Ludwig Krebs is perhaps one of the better known of old Bach’s students. His style is generally more conservative than that of Bach’s more forward-looking and creative sons, and though he produced chamber music, and a few orchestral and choral works, the center of gravity for his output is certainly the music for organ, an inherently conservative genre. The Clavier- Übung presented here is the first part of a three-volume production of which the first is chorale settings, the second is a suite, and the third six sonatinas, the whole published in Nuremberg in the 1750s. Parts one and three are available in modern editions; part the second is evidently not revived.
There are at least two previous recordings of the first part (the earlier from the mid-sixties on Musica Sacra, and a more recent set from K617. There is also an on-going set of the complete organ works from Querstand (not reviewed here, as far as I know). Though I haven’t heard these, I have no qualms in recommending William Porter’s recording with warm words. Porter was one of the earliest recipients of the Erwin Bodky prize for excellence in the performance of early music (thirty years ago, in 1971 – the curious can see the list of recipients, many now internationally famous, at http://www.csem.org/bodky.html), and he has been an ornament of the rich early music scene in Boston for a decade or so, where he is on the faculty of New England Conservatory. I have fond memories of a chamber music concert there pairing David Douglas and Porter. Porter marries technical prowess and absolute clarity of line with a deep sense of the expressive possibilities of the music before him. In other hands this music might not be so compelling or captivating , but Porter makes the best of cases for it. He is helped by a marvelously clear and present recording of a characterful Swedish organ from 1806 by Pehr Schörlin, lyrical in the individual stops and powerful in the pleno. All in all, a model for organ recordings. A fine disc, which should be of wide interest.

KREBS Clavier-Übung. Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr. Von Gott will ich nicht lassen. William Porter, organLOFT LRCD 1026 (76:54).


Telemann de novo

Musica Pacifica

Christine Brandes

Jennifer Lane
This is an attractive addition to the Telemann discography. The trio sonatas are from the composer’s contribution to the French Corelli vogue of the 1730’s, intended primarily, as one might expect, for a pair of violins and continuo. Telemann’s catalogues call for violins, as do the sets of published parts (Telemann’s own edition, and a Parisian reprint). Only the title page calls for flutes. The choice of keys and figuration works against an effective performance of the whole collection on wind instruments. The set received a fine recording from Simon Standage and crew on Chandos in 1993 (CHAN 0549). Here Musica Pacifica has scored two of the six for violin and voice flute. The D major sonata begins with a charming pastorale, quite appropriate for the recorder, and the E major sonata is probably more effective in that key on the voice flute than it would be on the transverse flute. The first allegro lies rather low, but the gigue is charming.
The bulk of the program is drawn from the seventy-two cantata collection published by Telemann in 1725, and published in a complete edition at the very beginning of the collected works (preceded only by the Methodical sonatas). Each cantata consists of a pair of arias for voice and obbligato instrument (recorder, flute, oboe, violin) separated by an extensive recitatative. Telemann intended the publication for private and public devotions, and concludes the title page by telling the buyer that they are also useful for those who wish to practice playing or singing so as to become more capable therein. The composer alternates cantatas for high voice (in treble clef) and medium voice (soprano clef).
It would be too much to expect that enterprising performers (or record labels) might have recorded the whole set, but even so there have been few ventures into this storehouse. Musica Pacifica have chosen two pairs of cantatas pairing soprano and recorder (Judith Linsenberg), and mezzo and violin (Elizabeth Blumenstock), and attractive and characteristic works, in which Telemann’s ability to draw the best from the instruments in his writing is evident. I was particularly struck by the darkness of “Ergeuss dich” in which the suffering Christian implores God to pour himself out as balm, and by the Italian fire of the violin in “Halt mit deinem Wetterstrahle”. Musica Pacifica has chosen in Christine Brandes and Jennifer Lane two of America’s finest singers for Baroque music. The last decade has seen Brandes move from a sparkling lyric sound to a darker and more dramatic delivery, with more vibrato. Her fioritura is clear, and she traces a compelling vocal line, but more attention to speaking and shaping the text might make for a more involving experience. Jennifer Lane, as a mezzo-soprano, has a naturally darker tone, but it seems to me that she is also willing to be more emotionally direct in her singing than Brandes, and hence more affecting. Lane’s are the most memorable moments on this disc. The contributions of the instrumentalists are first-rate, and the sound is lovely. Warmly recommended.

TELEMANN Chamber Cantatas and Trio Sonatas. Christine Brandes, s; Jennifer Lane, ms; Musica Pacifica. DORIAN DOR-93239 (77:18).

Sonate Corellisantes: no. 4 in E, no. 6 in D. Harmonischer Gottesdienst: Cantata no. 1, TWV1:941, Halt ein mit deinem Wetterstrahle. Cantata no. 4, TWV 1:715, In gering- und rauhen Schalen. Cantata no. 33, TWV 1:447, Ergeuss dich zur Salbung der schmachtenden Seele. Canata no. 45, TWV 1:399, Durchsuch dich, O stolzer Geist. Fortsetzung des Harmonischen Gottesdienstes, Erwäg’, o Mensch, TWV 1:487b.

terça-feira, janeiro 29

Morning thoughts

1. If the U.S. military wages war against the government and army of a sovereign country, such as Afghanistan, and then takes the soldiers of that country prisoner, then they must certainly be prisoners of war and treated as such under the Geneva Convention governing such. Anything else is simply casuistry on the part of a government supposedly dedicated to supporting universal human rights.

2. It is time for a special prosecutor to investigate the links between the Vice-President and the Enron bankruptcy.

segunda-feira, janeiro 28
Que seja eterno enquanto dure:

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680)

All my past life is mine no more,
The flying hours are gone,
Like transitory dreams giv'n o'er,
Whose images are kept in store
By memory alone.

The time that is to come is not;
How can it then be mine?
The present moment's all my lot;
And that, as fast as it is got,
Phyllis, is only thine.

Then talk not of inconstancy,
False hearts, and broken vows;
If I, by miracle, can be
This live-long minute true to thee,
'Tis all that Heav'n allows



When I was a teenager I had the strange habit of spending my whole allowance in records. The Amadeus quartet (Norbert Brainin and Siegmund Nissel, violin; Peter Schidlof, viola; Martin Lovett, cello) was then one of the ensembles most frequently found in my shopping bag, and I have the fondest memory of deep emotions raised by their performances.

Since then, a lot of water went under the bridge, and for a long time I hadn’t heard their recordings. So my heart skipped a beat when I received this CD to review. Hélàs, this time the emotion was a bit dimmed. Still perfectly noticeable are the impeccable chamber playing, the coherent musical conception, the seemingly effortless technique. And it is refreshing to hear a real live performance, with all the coughing and chair shuffling, in these days of perfect, aseptic recordings. These pieces were recorded between 1960 and 1971, and they provide a very good sampling of the Amadeus Quartet, joined by some of their more habitual partners.
There is true grit here, overflowing emotion and very fine musicianship. What is lacking is perhaps a rounder tone quality, but mainly a more relaxed, fun approach to music. Yes, these are very serious pieces, one does not expect any comical relief. But there is a general terseness which appears in all the levels, from the rather tight violin sound, with a very intense vibrato, to the almost oppressive sensation that there is very little “space” between each of the instruments of the quartet - a way of achieving cohesion, no doubt. This was often hailed as one of the Amadeus Quartet trademarks, a homogeneity of tone that made the group sound as one finely tuned instrument. And in Franck and Strauss the constant tension and even some of the timbric harshness don’t seem out of place.
But the clarinet quintet by Mozart, one of the most inspired chamber pieces ever composed, suffers. Maybe because of the incredible emotional scope of this work, which goes from the most soulful melancholy to the most light-hearted whimsy. One yearns for bigger, rounder gestures, for a more bouncing interpretation, for a Mozart that feels less like Brahms and more like… well, Mozart! The music sounds trapped inside a slightly stifling, humid, grandiose place, and one aspires to the open air, to an atmosphere where all details can be clearly perceived and enjoyed.
The thirty years or more that separate us from these performances have witnessed many changes in performance practices as well as in the taste of audiences. And, sadly enough, castles visited in the past always seem more enchanted in our memory. Still, if you never heard the Amadeus Quartet, this is a golden opportunity to get to know what is perhaps the most famous string quartet ever.

Brazilians abroad, the next chapter

One of the companies that sells compact discs to the institution where I work kindly sent along a promotional copy of a disc by Brazilian pianist Bernardo Segall, born in Campinas in 1911, and passed on in the US in 1993.

The recording is a collection of Bach transcriptions and preludes from the WTC (that's Well-Tempered Clavier, folks...), recorded in the US circa 1960. Segall seems to have emigrated to the US in his twenties, married an American dancer, and made his living writing music for musicals and movie soundtracks, eventually ending up at USC in Los Angeles. He is completely (well, not completely, since we have this disc) forgotten in both Brazil and the US, appearing in none of the reference works I checked. And yet he was a damn good Bach pianist.....


I promise that I will post something - soon. Now I am going to the hospital, to visit Cora. I'll be back, with news of her surgery....

PS: I was looking for a picture of Cora to post here, and this is what I found in my google image search, under the heading "Cora and Tom":

Nothing could be more appropriate, don't you think?

PS2: I just came back from the hospital. Cora is well, a bit drowsy but her personality is all there. The doctor said she could not eat or drink anything till tonight. While I was there she started a long diatribe against doctors and how they know nothing at all about humans, and how if her body was asking for something, her body knew best... etc, etc... AND managed to convince us to give her a sip of chocolate milk (no less!)

Outside the box

Just getting my first listen to the new release of Miles Davis and group live at the Fillmore East, March 7, 1970. Group= Miles, Shorter, Corea, Holland, De Johnette, and Airto.The first track is amazingly outside, especially for Wayne Shorter, who usually doesn't go there. I am not sure he actually sounds comfortable doing it.

Requiescat in pace

The eminent American harpsichordist Igor Kipnis died last week.

Laura and I had both reviewed recordings of his, and I had the great pleasure to be able to interview him for Fanfare. I made the long drive up to his house in Connecticut, and spent a long afternoon and evening talking with him. He showed me the wealth of family photographs of his father, and of his own musical career, I marveled at an entire wall filled with LPs to about twelve feet above the floor, and we had a very nice dinner at a Japanese restaurant. He was an absolutely charming, unpretentious, open and delightful man.

Catching up on the weekend

Valeria Mastrorosa's concert at Westminster Choir College was well-attended and quite lovely.

She accompanied three different singers, two sopranos and a baritone. The sopranos divided the first half, the first singing a set of five Fauré songs, the second singing three Debussy melodies. Soprano no. 1 sang well enough, but had a rather stiff stage presence - she seemed to be focusing on the act of singing, not communicating. Soprano no. 2 was full of energy, and one got the sense that her singing was about sharing the meaning of the poetry - she had something exciting that she wanted to share. Andrew Megill
sang Dichterliebe by Schumann after the intermission, and I realized how fundamentally German and neurotic this poetry and music is. On and on about how the poor singer is being abused. At least when an Italian writes love poetry about how he is dying you get a sense that there is another individual involved, the poet is full of praise for the beauty of his beloved, he is wounded by the darts from her flashing eyes etc., etc., but this song cycle seems to be fundamentally narcissistic, self-wounding. My son (who impressed me by actually following the German text, and turning the page at the right spots, though he doesn't know German) was happy that the sixteen songs were "not so long". Megill's performance was a work of art. Valeria's contributions at the keyboard were accomplished and lovely, and she deserved all the long applause that she received.
Yesterday afternoon Merlin and I went to a very nice party in our neighborhood, and it was novel to meet new people and be able to ask "which street do you live on? Clay, Mercer or Jackson?", since that is the extent of our neighborhood. Merlin enjoyed the fire in the yard, which was built in a moderate-size ceramic fireplace sitting on a brick pedestal. There was a three-piece celtic band playing - percussion/hammered dulcimer
(excellent harmmered dulcimer playing), singer/bouzouki (passable), and tin-whistle (amateurish). A very nice gathering of folks, delicious food to eat, nice conversations - one always asks "how long have you been in Mill Hill? how did you end up moving here?"

sábado, janeiro 26
i my momy!!!!!
by ju
coffee........just coffee.........


Brazil em Nova Jersey

The last few days have been sunnier, and even warm enough today to stand outside and play the flute without freezing my fingers off.

Tonight my son and I are off to hear a Brazilian friend play a recital at Westminster Choir College (in Princeton) where she is studying accompanying. Tonight's program:Debussy, Faure, Schumann. Afterwards: caipirinhas (my Ypioca is coming along to join Valeria's limes). More Brazil tomorrow, when I will be playing with pianist extraordinaire Doctor Dick Swain at the morning services of the Unitarian Church in Princeton. Program: Toada by Jose Siqueira, Madrigal and Dance by Antonio Guerreiro, the Overture from the Suite by Caio Senna, and the fourth Musical Moment by Osvaldo Lacerda.
quinta-feira, janeiro 24


Ovinhos de amendoim

Fruta do conde




I never thought that I suffered from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, a fancy way of saying that gringos get depressed in the wintertime), but I am beginning to wonder. It feels like I haven't seen the sun for days. When I wake up in the morning, the sky is completely gray, no hint of sun anywhere. This morning the fog was so thick you could barely see a hundred meters, so the traffic on the streets was creeping. I would much rather have heavy snow followed by clear and bitterly cold weather.....Ooooogh.

quarta-feira, janeiro 23

Back home

Yes, I am still alive. Barely. And thanks to a ridiculously LARGE cup of coffee.

I got home just in time to run to school and teach hours of classes. I haven't had time to feel how hot and muggy it is here, or to make the usual observations about cultural differences. And right now it is too late to post anything that will make any sense. But here is a question for you: speaking about coffee, did you know that American Airlines does not serve coffee with sweetener anymore, only with sugar (even if you have diabetes...)? And do you know why?
Answer to this one, tomorrow!


Prehistoric times

Be sure to visit the exhibit from the National Museum in Ecuador.

Your bloggers (1999)

What drink are you?
I was a margarita....
Drink me!

8:06 AM
terça-feira, janeiro 22


Today's NYTimes has a long article on how social groups punish those who cheat or otherwise break social norms.

Towards the end of the article the author, Natalie Angier, notes that "the strength and expression of the urge to scourge is clearly shaped by culture...the more closely a society's economy is based on market rather than kinship ties, the more prevalent the use of altruistic punishment to bring others into line." This could explain why the US seems to be a more moralistic society than Brazil. Kinship ties are clearly much more important in Brazil than in the U.S., and hence there is less inclination to punish the wrongdoer - after all, in the largest sense, he or she is family, much more so than in the US.

domingo, janeiro 20

Courtly Airs

Jean-Paul Fouchécourt has gained increasing prominence as a vocalist active in early music, with an extensive association with William Christie, but the present disc for Glissando marks the beginning of his work as a solo recitalist on CD.

It is the first in a projected set of three, which will trace the development of the French solo song from the Renaissance to the twentieth-century. Fouchécourt began his musical activities as a saxophonist, training at the Paris Conservatory in the literature of the classical saxophone, an instrument which even in France has a fairly small repertoire. After a few years he began to feel that it would be limiting to him as a musician to restrict himself to that instrument, and attended a workshop on interpretation with the late Cathy Berberian. This was a turning point, and he returned to the conservatory to study voice in 1982. He had had no involvement with early music until meeting William Christie in the mid-eighties, and for three years he appeared in all the programs of Les ArtsFlorissants.

We spent some time in our telephone conversation (Fouchécourt talked with me from London) talking about the sort of technical approach he takes toward singing early music. I asked if he uses a different technique when he sings early music. “You have to find a way to sing the high notes. I use a very light mixed voice for the high notes, but not falsetto.” Even in Puccini it is not to his taste to sing with a full production at the top. “It’s not my way, this. I like singing, but I like to tell a story. I am more interested in the text than the voice.” The airs de cour heard on his debut often have written-out doubles, ornamented repeats supplied by the composers. For Fouchécourt, the test is accomodating the passagework in the context of a poetic text.
“When it’s well done it works, but the difficulty is to make the text clear with so many notes.” He sees the key to articulating the many ornamental notes to be producing a little tension in the throat. “You just let your throat do it. The problem for singers is that if we let the throat make its own vibrato it doesn’t work. It’s like ironing your shirt - you press on the throat to elmiminate the vibrato, and then the throat articulation can happen. Ms. Bartoli uses the same technique. You cannot sing loud and articulat the coloratura. After Rossini there is less coloratura because if you want to have a bigger voice you cannot have the coloratura as well.
Fouchécourt gave me a preview of forthcoming volumes. The next will focus on the romance, solo song from France in the late eighteenth century. “Even in France nobody knows this literature.” Composers include Dalayrac, Boieldieu, and Martinie. He searched out old editions at the national library, and in old book shops as well, and admits that much of the music at this time was not so interesting. Later romances were influence by Schubert, and in fact the poet Bélanger wrote new poems to fit to Schubert’s music. The romances are scheduled to be recorded in fall 2001, with accompaniment by harp, pianoforte or guitar (many of the works call for the harp, the instrument of Marie Antoinette). Fouchécourt was very happy with the process of recording his first recital, which includes a song by Brassens, a clin d’oeil which he describes as an air de cour of the twentieth century. His third disc will feature Berlioz and contemporaries - Félicien David, Niedermeier and others, possibly some Gounod. Future plans may include Hahn and Fauré.


The number of recordings of this repertoire is almost vanishingly small, which is certainly not due to the quality, which is high, certainly matching the level of the English lute-song, if not the peaks represented by Dowland. A few of the pieces will be familiar to any lover of French song - the evergreen Tant que vivray of Sermisy from the first third of the sixteenth century, and the faithful sheperdess of Bataille’s Ma bergerenon legere from a century later, but most will be novel. The shepherdess of Michel Lambert from 1689 is tender and still faithful, but has donned Italian clothing, with two violins over a descending chaconne (or rather ciacona) bass.
Fouchecourt sings with a light and forward placement of the voice, so that each word and phrase is clearly understood. The tone is lyric and attractive, with a modicum of vibrato, but the emphasis is not on size or plush, but rather on diction and shaping of line. The voice is well forward in the mix, the sound attractive and on the dry, rather than wet, side.Eric Bellocq has the lion’s share of the accompanimental duties on lute, guitar, and theorbo, and he is fluent and sensitive. If you are a lover of French song, early music, or both, this disc should make its way to your CD player. Warmly recommended.

Jean-Paul Fouchecourt, t; Olivier Baumont, hpd, org; Eric Bellocq, lt, gtr, theorbo; Simon Heyerick, Nicolas Mazzoleni, vn; Christine Pleubeau, vdg. GLISSANDO 779 013-2 (period instruments)(TT)(68:53).

quarta-feira, janeiro 16

Going South

Your bloggers visited South Street, Philadelphia.
If you haven't been there, it's a conglomeration of interesting shops mostly catering to the young, but indeed the sort of thing you won't find in most malls (though there is a Gap). When the weather is warmer (it wasn't too wintry last night) the sidewalks are crowded with strollers. A substantial number of shops there were closed in contradiction of their posted hours, though there were still enough to occupy us for several hours. There's a fine used bookshop where I picked up several Malcolm Bradburys and a hilarious book by anthropologist Nigel Barley, which I had read several years ago but never seen on a shop shelf.
It was a little disheartening to think that South Street, even in its winter hibernation, was probably the most active street at that hour for a hundred miles in any direction....
terça-feira, janeiro 15

Brazilian gold

This is the second disc in a series from Claves exploring the little-known music of colonial Brasil. Eighteenth-century Brazil could boast dozens of accomplished composers producing works for the church, virtually all of them active in the region of Minas Gerais (now a state). The name means "General Mines" and among the treasures extracted from the Brazilian soil was plenty of gold, celebrated in the name of the capital, Ouro Preto, or "Black Gold". The mines have been played out, but the churches built during the boom years still stand, and are historical treasures themselves. The cover photograph of Ensemble Turicum's disc features a painting of King David from the church of St. Francis in Ouro Preto.
You won't find much about this music in the standard reference works - Manoel Dias de Oliveira (1738-1813) is granted an entry in none of them. He was of mixed descent (or mulato, the usual Brazilian term) as were many of the composers of the era. He was active in the town of São José d'el Rey, now known as Tiradentes (tooth-puller), named after the leader of the failed revolution in Minas in 1789, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, who practiced that trade. As far as I can tell, there are as yet no published scores for his music. The most extensive work on the music of this period is a monograph by Maria Conceição Rezende, A Música na História de Minas Colonial (Music in the History of Colonial Minas), published to mark the bicentennial of the rebellion. Rezende's list of surviving works includes, in addition to those heard here, at least four masses, a requiem, a litany, a matins and other works.
Given the provinciality of most Colonial music from what was to become the United States, the level of quality of Oliveira's work is a revelation. The works are scored for a four-part choir (the Ensemble Turicum uses four male soloists - two falsettists, tenor and bass),usually a pair of violins, and continuo bass. A few of the works have parts for flutes and horns, and the motets for Holy Week are performed a cappella. Oliveira's music, especially the extended Te Deum with alternatim chant will remind most listeners of the sacred music of the young Mozart in the modern Italian style (the composer must certainly have seen scores of contemporary works from Europe - a long journey in those days). The works in the stile antico are accomplished as well. The performances by Brazilian Luiz Alvess da Silva and his Zurich-based ensemble are lively, attractive, convincing, with the four solo voices producing a very sweet blend. The instrumental contributions are in fact contributions, and the recording is flattering. This disc is a find - warmly recommended.

OLIVEIRA Tractus para Missa dos Pre-Santificados. Te Deum Laudamus. Encomendação das Almas. Angelus Domine. Justus ut palma. Bajulans. Tantum ergo. Pange Lingua. Popule Meus. Venite Adoremus. Domine Jesu. Magnificat. Te Deum Laudamus. Luiz Alves da Silva directing the Ensemble Turicum (period instruments)(TT) CLAVES CD 50-9610 (60:29)


C. P. E. Bach, the next youngest son, produced dozens of sonatas for solo keyboard; from W. F. Bach, the eldest, only nine survive. They share with his chamber music in other media the traits of astonishing concision, being packed with gesture, and put together with almost kaleidscopic changes in mood and character. The listener can never predict where the music will next turn. Those who know the flute duets will note some familiar melodic tics, though composed out in different contexts.

There have been relatively few recordings of this repertoire, which is demanding both technically and in its rhetoric. William Youngren gave a rather lukewarm welcome to Annette Uittenbosch's set of six (F. 1-5, 8) for Globe (Fanfare 12, 6), and concluded that it would do till something better came along. Charlotte Mattax has all the skills necessary to turn in entrancing performances of this music -impressive dexterity, and what is most important, the ability to shape each phrase convincingly in both local and more global contexts. Think of a compelling speaker, but one with innumerable fascinating digressions, and you will have the sense of W.F. (and Charlotte Mattax) at the keyboard. The recording is clear and a little dry, conveying the varied colors of the Willard Martin instrument. Warmly recommended - a superb recording.

W.F. BACH Sonatas for Harpsichord: in G, F. 7; in A, F. 8; in D, F.3; in B-flat, F. 9; in E-flat, F. 5; in C, F. 2. Charlotte Mattax, harpsichord. CENTAUR CRC 2351 (75:44)

segunda-feira, janeiro 14


Your bloggers spent a fabulous evening on the town, beginning with a really incredibly good dinner at a local restaurant, the Big Fish Bistro.

Laura says: This is a restaurant that would attract a crowd of 25 year olds in Brazil - bright colors, huge spaces, no tablecloths, cute waiters (young, male - ours was a professional baseball player - catcher - for the Allentown Ambassadors - Jason McDonald). The food, however, would attract a much older and more affluent crowd - sophisticated nouvelle cuisine, deliciously prepared, tastefully presented. The prices were quite affordable. The bread that began the repast was so good as to be a satisfying meal in itself.

We shared a pecan-encrusted mahi-mahi, perfectly prepared, served on a bed of wild rice with al dente green beans, baby limas, mushrooms. On the side we each had a Cape-Codder salad with mesculun, red lettuce, pine nuts, bleu cheese, and a raspberry vinaigrette. Yum!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then we ran off to the weekly rehearsal for the Blawenburg Band (est. 1890),
where Laura sat in with the flute section - the first time in her life that she had played in a band. Laura: It's very educational to play where you cannot hear what you play, and can't tell whether you are playing the right note or not...Afterwards we joined eight or so people from the band for a post-rehearsal chopp at a bar on Quakerbridge Road.
As we drove home afterwards Laura remarked on how different our gathering was from a similar group in Brazil. Starting a conversation is laborious, the group tends to fragment into three or even four separate conversations, but yet each conversation takes place across the others, rather than people moving to be next to the people they are talking to. People at the edges tend to be cut out. Two of the younger women were discussing "Pampered Chef" parties, where the party thrown is an opportunity to sell culinary equipment to the guests, a long-standing pratice in the US, also used to sell Tupperware (plastic storage containers), lingerie, and even sex toys. For Laura, the notion of "party" excludes the notion of "selling", but for Americans it doesn't seem to be bizarre.

French treats

Your bloggers performed on Saturday with Le Triomphe de l'Amour, our chamber music group based in Princeton, which is in its eleventh season. The program included the trio sonata for flutes and continuo by Bach, and the sonata op. 2, no. 1, for flute, violin and continuo by Handel - these to get the audience in the door. The real focus was the unknown quartets by Louis-Gabriel Guillemain and Benoit Guillemant. We played two of each.
quinta-feira, janeiro 10


What is the States? It is a country where:

1- Pretzels don't get stale, even if you forget to close the package.

2. People stop at red lights, even when there is no cop around.

3. A "Sale" sign in a shop window actually means that the prices inside the store are significantly reduced.

4. Cherries are delicious.

5. Christmas decorations are fabulous.

6. A group of people who know each other get together. One of them brings his girlfriend. He doesn't bother to introduce her to the others, and they don't introduce themselves either.

7. Ice cream is wonderful, even inexpensive ice cream.

8. You buy a shirt at the Gap. The salesgirl just crumples it and throws it in the bag, instead of folding it nicely as you expect. And there is only one salesgirl. And she is unfriendly. And doesn't bother to try selling you anything.

9. Shopping malls are always empty (how do they survive?)

10. Public bathrooms (yes, in cinemas, stores, restaurants, even train stations!) are surprisingly clean.

11. Everybody's car is a total pigsty - trash, old newspapers, maps, etc.

12. There is no pão de queijo. Sniff.

13. The newspaper is delivered inside a plastic bag.

quarta-feira, janeiro 9

New music

Your bloggers performed as part of the Composers' Ensemble at Princeton series (Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA) last night, in the University Chapel, an enormous quasi-cathedral built before the stock-market crash in 1929.

Our program:
a work for two baroque flutes and tape by Paul Botelho (American son of Portuguese immigrants), a duo called "Coal Rain" by
Miriama Young from New Zealand, a dirge for the WTC scored for modern flutes and organ by Stefan Weisman.
A set of songs to some fabulous poetry by Stephen Dobyns,
composed and sung by Connie Cooper, with accompaniment by two baroque flutes. And finally two Brazilian works for two modern flutes: the Chorinho, op. 61 by Paulo Costa Lima,
and "Mot pour Laura" by Sergio Roberto de Oliveira. We had a good-sized audience as far as these things go - about fifty people. Afterwards, dinner at the underground Annex restaurant, where our congenial company included Scott Burnham,
chair of the Princeton Music Dept., and Dick Swain, pianist extraordinaire, and professor of Art at Rider University.

terça-feira, janeiro 8

O Moon!

La Luna is a bicoastal ensemble which made its debut at the 1995 Boston Early Music Festival and Exhibition. Matthews (winner of the 1989 Bodky award) and Schenkman are based in Seattle; Metcalfe and Walhout (a 1989 Bodky finalist) have been active in early music in Boston since the mid-eighties, and since 1988 have been members of The King's Noyse.

Scott Metcalfe

Ingrid Matthews

Their 1997 BEMF program included a number of works from this disc, recorded in 1996. Falconieri was born and died in Naples, but spent a substantial amount of time in northern Italy. He produced several books of vocal music, but only one surviving volume of chamber music, and though he was a lutenist no music by him for the instrument survives.The Primo libro di canzone... , combining dances and more abstract works from the canzona tradition, was published in 1650; no further volumes followed, since the composer died of plague in 1656. The many Spanish titles are testimony to the many Spaniards at the Viceregal court in 17th-century Naples. The only earlier disc devoted to Falconieri is a 1995 Astree issue from the Ensemble Fitzwilliam which combines both songs and instrumental works (which seems to have been passed over by Fanfare ). Lovers of the Italian Baroque shouldn't miss La Luna's outing. Matthews and Metcalfe are well-matched in this accomplished music, which combines well-wrought counterpoint and virtuoso passagework. Walhout and Schenkman provide sensitive support, and the whole ensemble breathes as one. The recording is flattering, the notes are extensive and informative. Warmly recommended.

FALCONIERI: Canzona 9a detta la Luna. La Mirandola. La Bella Lisarda, Corrente. Gallarda. Fantasia echa para el muy reverendo Padre Falla. Alemana dicha la Ciriculia. Folias echa para mi Señora Doña Tarolilla de Carallenos. Fantasia detta la Portia. Passacalle. La Gioiosa Fantasia. La Belisa, Corrente. L'Orlando, Brando. Sinfonias 2-4. La Monarca. Brando dicho el Melo. Corriente dicha la Mota. Corriente dicha la Cuella. Il Spiritillo Barando. La Dichosa Fantasia. La Carilla Corrente. Buelta dicha la Emperatriz. Sinfonia detta la buon'hora. La Parlera. Gallarda d'arroyo. La Xaveria Buelta. ROSSI: Passacaille. STORACE: Ciacona. La Luna (Ingrid Matthews, Scott Metcalfe, vns; Emily Walhout, vdg; Byron Schenkman, hpd). WILDBOAR WLBR 9605 (70:17)



Discs devoted to the music of the prolific Joseph Bodin de Boismortier are still relatively uncommon (in recent years two have come my way from Tenafly - complete sets of the flute sonatas, op. 19, and the flute suites, op. 35).

Few composers have taken it upon themselves to write for five unaccompanied flutes, and so Boismortier's set is not infrequently heard in performance, although this seems to be the first complete recording (isolated numbers have appeared in collections, either on flute or transposed for recorders).
Boismortier's writing treats flutes I and II as concertists, and III, IV and V as ripienists, though occasionally some solo writing will make it into the lower parts. Flutes IV and V are often, though not always written in unison, which provides a necessary strengthening of the continuo line (a single flute in the lower register would be hard put to balance the rest of the ensemble). Technically none of the parts would have been beyond the capability of the devoted amateur for whom Boismortier produced so much attractive music - the range is moderate, and the keys grateful to play on the one-keyed flute.
The flutists of Concert Spirituel will not be known by name to most, but the ensemble turns in fine performances, fluent, well-shaped, well-tuned, well-balanced, and making the most of the simple beauties of these works. The low pitch (A-396) lends an especially liquid sound to the flutes, and the recording is close (the percussion of the tongues is clearly audible).
Boismortier's music may not be to every taste (those who think Telemann too light and prolific should beware), but lovers of the flute should find this an attractive outing.

BOISMORTIER: Six Concerto for Five Flutes, op. 15. The Soloists of Concert Spirituel (Jocelyn Daubigney, Anne Savignat, Jan de Winne, Vincent Touzet, Jacques-Antoine Bresch, flutes). NAXOS 8.553639 [DDD]; 49:34
terça-feira, janeiro 1


The music reviewer for O Globo, one of Rio's major dailies, noted the release of the new disc by Atempo, Rio's only medieval music ensemble.
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Atempo is Pedro Hasselmann Novaes, Elizete Bernabe, Alcimar do Lago, Leonardo Loredo, and Antonio Ricardo da SilvaPedro was a student of Laura's starting when he was fifteen, as were Elizete and Alcimar. Pedro and his wife Elizete (as well as Leonardo) studied in Paris. Their new disc, presenting some of the many Cantigas of the Virgin Mary from the court of King Alfonso the Tenth of Spain, is lovely to listen to as well as to behold, with extensive notes by Pedro, as well as translations from the songs from the original Galician (the dialect of Galicia, to the north of Portugal, and having more similarity with Portuguese than Spanish) into modern Portuguese and English (full disclosure: translations to English by Laura and Tom). The songs are interpreted by mezzo Elizete (along with a small chorus of women), and accompanied by a varied instrumentarium (I think most listeners will be captivated by the mini-carillon played by Alcimar). A disc that deserves to be heard both inside and outside Brazil.

Reveillon and after

Today is the first day of 2002. It's a nice warm summer day, some high clouds, lots of blue, no rain in sight.

We saw the new year in at Cora's apartment in Lagoa, having arrived there in separate cabs, the first with Dona Nora, Tia Eva, and Tio Imre, the second with Laura, Tom, Ju, and the food at Laura had spent all day cooking - a delicious pernil (leg of pork), filet mignon, potatoes, carrots, salad, plus a cake Ju had made the night before, and the farofa that this gringo cooked. Our taxi driver was a star among Rio cabbies, friendly, interesting, articulate, and the traffic along the Lagoa was not bad. Upon arrival all but your blogger decamped to the kitchen to decant the food, and I had a long conversation with Tia Eva about life in Budapest in her youth. Tia Eva is the last survivor of the six siblings that included Paulo Rónai, Dona Nora's husband, and the father of Cora and Laura.

I wish that I had had the chance to meet him. I heard about manners and courting in her youth, and the gap between the three older children (Paulo was the oldest, born in 1907), and the three younger, who included Tia Eva. Tia Eva makes wonderful Hungarian desserts, speaks with a strong Hungarian accent in Portuguese (I am always amazed to hear Dona Nora speaking fluent Hungarian with her, as Nora also speaks Italian and English), and makes some of the same mistakes in Portuguese that I do (thank you, Nora, Cora, and Laura, for correcting me).

Tio Imre is in his nineties, the widower of Clara, one of the six Rónai's. The dinner was marvelous,and before the desserts the fireworks began to burst outside, and it was already 2002. A beautiful night, a bright moon, a film of cloud over Cristo Redentor, some substantial fireworks at our end of the Lagoa, and some private ones at other spots around Jardim Botanico and Gavea that we could see. After a while Bia returned from covering the rich and famous partying at the Copacabana Palace. Cora, of course, was capturing it all to disc with her camera. At four or so we taxied back through the quiet streets to Botafogo.

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