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Mostly Music
quinta-feira, fevereiro 28
 

Saudades



 

Turning the wheel of the Dharma




 

The Flying Doormat


from the Portuguese by Dona Nora...

In the city of Abdelbar, in a very old neighborhood, with little streets that were rather crooked and dark, and dirty hillsides smelling of mold, there was a little shop where brooms, brushes, and doormats were made. The owner, Salim Habib, was a master of his trade. Nobody, but nobody, made mats that were nicer and more durable than his. Decorated with leaves, fruits and colorful flowers, as if they were carpets, the mats were famous throughout the whole world, and the little shop was much frequented by tourists, as if it were Sugarloaf or the Eiffel Tower.
Not far away lived Abdul, the wizard, who was a specialist in flying carpets. Now and then officials from the Aviation Administration came intending to fine him for obstructing air travel by releasing unlicensed flying objects into airline flight paths. But not for nothing was Abdul a wizard: when the official was pulling out his tablet to write up the ticket, Abdul went “plop!”, just like a soap bubble, and disappeared before the official’s astonished eyes.
One day, Abdul decided to produce, instead of a carpet, a flying doormat. Well, strictly speaking, the carpets were not entirely of his own manufacture. He sent the work out – of course- he simply provided the enchanted wool, and once they were ready, he trained them to fly, like a mother bird trains her chicks.
This time he sought out Master Salim, bringing along some fine jute which had been dyed in various colors. He asked him to make a nice mat, big and strong, with a flowered border, and with “Welcome” in the middle. Of course “welcome” was in Arabic, since, as you have already figured out, all this took place in Arabia, the land of Aladdin and princess Jasmine.
The mat was beautiful! Really extraordinary! And so Master Habib decided to hang it by his doorway, to show what he was capable of, until Abdul came looking for it.
Just that day a tourist, Senhor Braga, decided to visit the shop. A professor of geography, João Braga traveled frequently, and photographed the most interesting things that he saw so that he could show them to his students in Brazil when he got back. When he saw that beautiful mat, he pulled out his camera, and zap! He took a photo. When the flash went off he had the impression that the mat had given a shudder, but of course he didn’t take it seriously - who ever saw a doormat shudder?
The owner of the shop wasn’t there. Only his apprentice! The tourist asked about the pricde, since he wanted to buy a mat. The apprentice measured the mat with his measuring tape: 150 cm by 110. He went to the catalogue, looked in the section for “first-class mats”, and found the price for that size of mat: 165 maravedis. Just to be on the safe side, he charged 200. The professor wasn’t one for haggling. He just clucked and said “That much?”, and the seller let it go for 180 maravedis. The dealing over, the merchandise was rolled up and packed. Hefting it with a little effort, Sr. Braga went back to the hotel from which he would leave that very night to go back to Brazil.
I won’t ask you to listen to the story of the fight between Master Salim and Abdul the wizard, since it is a very sad story, as is that of the scolding which the poor apprentice later got from his boss.
Now, as we return to Brazil, we find the professor making his triumphal entrance to his home, received with rejoicing by his wife Dona Barbara and by Junior, always eager to hear the stories from his father’s travels. When they saw the mat they were both very happy. Even Senhor Braga said that, seeing it like that, separated from the other merchandise in the store, he found it much more beautiful than he had thought when he was buying it. Dona Barbara made a point of washing and waxing the hall by the stairway before stretching out the new doormat in front of the door.


continues here


 

The Dib-dab


from the Portuguese by Dona Nora..

Ariel was a fairy who was still a little girl, and she was, like she usually was, being punished. That was because she was very distracted, and every now and then she would forget something that she was supposed to do, like, for example, looking after the flowers, or cleaning the clouds. When she was being punished, she lost the right to use her magic wand, which meant that she became just like any other little girl, just much prettier.
But there was also one other thing in her favor: her dib-dab-didub, brand new, model 2001, serial number 1-2-3-5-8. Now any fairy that had a dib-dab (that’s how they called it, for short), didn’t need a magic wand. And so she was only really being punished in theory. In practice, Ariel wasn’t being hindered in the slightest.
That might have been why it was so hard for her to improve.
What is a dib-dab? Well, it’s a kind of toy, but one that only children of fairies and wizards can have. It’s anything that the owner wants it to be. It’s a hundred, a thousand, an infinite number of toys; it’s as many toys as you want, all in one.

continues here

quarta-feira, fevereiro 27
 

The Ball



from the Portuguese by Dona Nora...

It was a beautiful ball! Strong, made of thick rubber, elastic, and colorful. It looked like a soccer ball, but instead of being black and white, it was white, red, blue, green and yellow. And it was well-treated, because it was a girl’s ball. Unlike boy’s balls, which are always being kicked around, it was spoiled by Julie, who took very good care of it. At night, for example, nobody needed to tell her what to do. Julie looked for all the toys which were spread around the floor and put them in order: she put the toy pans together, gathered up the doll clothes, put the mold, shovel and sieve in the bucket for the beach; and the building blocks all went into their box – although they had been strewn around by Manoela, her sister, who was still too little to be tidy.

continues here
terça-feira, fevereiro 26
 
I THINK THIS POEM IS HILARIOUS...



Tenuous and Precarious


Tenuous and Precarious
Were my guardians,
Precarious and Tenuous,
Two Romans.

My father was Hazardous,
Hazardous,
Dear old man,
Three Romans.

There was my brother Spurious,
Spurious Posthumous
Spurious was spurious
Was four Romans.

My husband was Perfidious
He was perfidious,
Five Romans.

Surreptitious, our son,
Was surreptitious
He was six Romans.

Our cat Tedious
Still lives,
Count not Tedious
Yet.

My name is Finis,
Finis, Finis,
I am Finis,
Six, five, four, three, two,
One Roman,
Finis

.Stevie Smith


 
A REVIEW FOR MANOEL:



This CD is:

a) weird
b) interesting
c) good
d) bad
e) challenging
f) puzzling
g) all of the above
h) none of the above

If you checked “g”, you score high marks in this crazy test. My first reaction was: how strange! Then, how curious! Then I ran the gamut from a to h....

The personality which dominates this 2001 Supraphon release is that of singer Iva Bittová, and the very first piece is at once an exhibition of her vocal prowess and a pointer to the esthetic direction of the CD. Now it is hard to explain just what that consists of.

The texts written in the booklet account for the adjective “puzzling”. They are poetic, but do not explain much. The central idea seems to be that it contains pieces that deal with the concept of echo. But then not all of them do.

I thought of classifying the music as post-modern, but that was too easy a way out. A cop-out rather. So let me try again: the general recipe is a mix of folk central-European ingredients, with a bit of jazz sprinkled on some classical avant-garde music, a whiff of new-age flavoring, and world-tendencies here and there (a taste of shakuhachi, gypsy bands, Arab spicing...). The voice inflections of Iva Bittová are reminiscent of those of Portuguese singer Maria João, and there are echoes (oops! Sorry!) of Carl Orff, blues, sprechstimme...

The result is sometimes jarring, sometimes enchanting (the interplay between voice and over-dubbed flute in track 20 is very nice, with a lilting, gentle feel to it), and most often very fun, almost like an imaginary soundtrack for some animated cartoon film.
In a few instances, what must have seemed a brilliant idea falls flat: the re-enactment of Hotteterre’s Echo with the voice answering the flute in ever-expanding tone colors, for example. This would possibly (in fact, quite probably) be a big hit on stage, but after a few listenings it becomes irritating more than instigating, especially in the bleating passages. There are places where the music gets overly sentimental, or a bit cutesy (like in the neo-antique pieces in the style of Karg-Elert) or gratuitously experimental – it is easy to see that the players are having fun discovering new sounds to play with, but one is not quite sure one wants to travel the road to enlightenment along with them.

However, the high points are high indeed: all musicians are first class, committed to the music, and excellent both technically and musically. This is specially true of Ms. Bittová, who uses her voice as an instrument of surprising range and timbric variety. Even in this non-visual medium, her experience as an actress shows through, with renderings that are full of theatrical flair. In the liner text Ms Bittová wrote that ”since my childhood I have lived for music” – this is trite, but utterly convincing given the musical results. Her performances are direct and full of life, and one gets the feeling that if the group of musicians decided to go even further outside, she would be fully prepared. Her most frequent partner, Andreas Kröper, is an accomplished flutist, and his baroque flute-playing is more than just politically correct, it is flexible and heartfelt.

The clever instrumental combinations are definitely successful, and many of the works entice and involve the listener right away, and manage to tease and please at the same time. The CD reflects a sort of modesty, coupled with a real joy in music making. Nice! And let’s not forget the recorded sound, which is very warm, clean but not dry, round but not .... “echoey” (groan). The record cover is that rare thing, graphic art that truly reflects the musical choices.

As mentioned before, the liner texts could (and should) be more informative, particularly considering the original character of the music. I felt specially unsatisfied with the little importance given to the gypsy element, hinted at in the liner notes, but never explicitly discussed. Do these musicians have gypsy blood? It seems so, but it is impossible to know, maybe because in Europe this is still a politically charged subject. And it is not a minor detail – since mainly in Central-Europe the gypsies were, up to quite recently, the messengers of the outside world as far as musical influences go.

This is a bold, unconventional experiment. Not to every taste, but those who cherish more exotic fare will certainly get their money’s worth. I for one, await their next adventure with curiosity and excitement. And speaking of curiosity: if you happen to discover what the name of J. V. Stamic is doing in the cover, pray tell me. I could not find any further reference to him inside the CD or in the booklet’s many pages.

ECHOES Iva Bittová (voice); Andreas Kröper (fl). With Petra Klementová (fl), Pavel Novotny (trombone), Jan Beránek, Martin Flasar (vn); Bedrich Havlík, Helena Velická (vc), Vladislav Bláha (guitar), Alzbeta Horská (harp), Dan Dlouhy (perc); Milos Stedron, Jan Ocetek (cond) SUPRAPHON SU 3505-2 931 (46:29)

IVA BITTOVÁ Ecos I; Ecos II; Winds. JACQUES HOTTETERRE Ecos. ANDREAS KRÖPER Iva. MILOS STEDRON (Sr. And Jr.) Vanitas. MILOS STEDRON Sr. Passacaglia; Requiem Zingarorum. MILOS STEDRON Jr. Requiem; MILOS STEDRON Sr. & BITTÓVA Passacaglia.



Fanfare, Dec/Nov 2001


 

What to do?



I have been translating some stories for children by Nora Rónai, and a passage from Archiboldo and Hermengarda reminded me of the old joke about the Quaker and his bad-tempered cow. Here's what Nora wrote (Hermengarda, a bad witch - though not-so-bad - has been taken prisoner):

They deposited their strange package in the middle of the courtyard of the castle, where it was soon surrounded by curious people: fairies, elves, sprites, etc. The Queen and her court began to deliberate on what was to be done with the witch. They couldn’t kill her, since fairies – by definition – must be good and not do that sort of thing. And for the same reason they couldn’t beat her either. On the other hand, if they let her go, she would go back to her witchery. Keep her prisoner? Very dangerous! Casting a spell to make her good might work for awhile, but later, since she was a witch, she would return to her naturally cruel state…

and here's the bit of Quaker humor (if you look for this on the Net you will find that both Quakers and Baptists tell it about themselves):

There is an old yarn about a Quaker who owned an ornery cow. Every time he milked her, it was a clash of two wills. This particular morning she was unusually irritable, but he was determined to endure the session without so much as a cross word. As the farmer began to milk her, ol' Bossy stepped on his foot with all her weight. He struggles silently, groaned a little under his breath, pulled his foot free, then sat back down on the stool. She then swished her tail in his face like a string whip. The farmer just leaned away. Next she kicked over the milk bucket just when it was half-full. He started over, mumbling a few words to himself, but he never lost his cool. Once finished with the ordeal, he breathed a sigh of relief, picked up the bucket and stool, and as he was leaving she hauled off and kicked him knocking him against the barn wall ten feet away. That did it. He stood up, marched to the front of that cow, stared into those big eyes, and as he shook a long bony finger in her face, he shouted, "Thou dost know that I am a Quaker. Thou dost know also that I cannot strike thee back . . . but thou must remember, I can always sell thee to a Baptist!"


segunda-feira, fevereiro 25
 

FOR BIA (I SWEAR THIS IS THE ORIGINAL TITLE: )

Beatriz's song

When will he return?
Only to depart.
Harrowed by the omen
Of his restless heart;
Bondsman of the voice,
Rival to the Sun,
Viceroy of the sunset
Till his task be done.
Though he is my love
He is not for me;
What he loves lies over
Loveless miles of sea.
Haunted by the West,
Eating out his heart
When will he return?
Only to depart.


Text by Louis MacNeice (1907-1963)
Set by William Walton (1902-1983), from Christopher Columbus Suite, no. 2.




 

Brazilians abroad, the next chapter


It's been a busy week with no blogging, but just a note for now...Sergio Roberto de Oliveira, great friend and great composer, was here visiting from Rio de Janeiro. On Saturday some friends mentioned a Brazilian restaurant in a most unexpected location: Allentown NJ. So yesterday we drove by there after Quaker Meeting. It's called the Tasty Grill - no indication from the outside that you have rodizio inside. It wasn't open yet, but we knocked and were admitted. The Brazilians inside were amazed to be visited by another Brazilian
(and they took me for a Brazilian too....). There was a waitress from Parana (blond, green eyes) and a cook from Espirito Santo.
We had coffee and pave, and listened to Raul Seixas...
Alas, it looks like they won't be open long there...problems with the exhaust fan....
 

A ROYAL VISIT



This next week, Prince Charles will be in Rio. Guess who will be playing for him? The Brazilian Symphony Orchestra? The Municipal Theather Symphony? Guess again. By request of His Royal Highness, the kids from the Villa-Lobinhos Project will be the main attraction. Neat, isn't it? More details? Click here (sorry, in Portuguese only...)
 
A PERFECT DAY

In the morning, a most unusual program: we went to Copacabana beach (yes, I do that, about once a year!). The water was warm and surprisingly clean, fish (big ones!) bumping into us every five minutes, algae floating around, white sands, clear skies. And nice, friendly people all around (violence or not violence, dengue or not dengue, Rio is still the "cidade maravilhosa") Manoela premièred a new bikini, and I had the best time just frolicking with her in the water and watching her beautiful smiling face. Coming back home, we stopped by the open market, and I bought four pounds of fresh shrimp. Big salad, shrimp with garlic and oil, a caipirinha with tons of ice, what could be better? The caipirinha made by Hermano helped me forget that I myself look like a fat shrimp now - oh why do I forget that, though inside I am quite Brazilian, outwardly (skin deep?) I am, hélàs, a gringa...
In the late afternoon we went (Mom, the girls and I) to a music event at the Marina da Glória. An outpost of Garcia & Rodrigues (to the non-cariocas, a fancy restaurant in Leblom), it had the ideal happy-hour: a show by a new, sensational group, probably the best instrumental Brazilian popular music ensemble I have ever heard. Its core, the boys from Abraçando Jacaré, D'Artagnan (flute), Nando (guitar), Serginho (pandeiro). Plus João Hermeto playing percussion and a fabulous violinist from France, Nicolas, who plays like a wizard and already speaks almost-accentless Portuguese. In the repertoire, classic chorinhos (Um a Zero, Tico-tico no Fubá, etc...) as well as Jazz (Sonny Rollins), Jewish Music with all the gypsy overtones (Jerusalem), some original compositions by members of the group, you name it. The ensemble is well-balanced, fun, full of pep, ideas, swing. Mom was dancing in her chair, and even the girls, who were relluctant to go, at first ( "Mom, do we really have to go hear your students play?"), were trapped in the magic.
The group has no name, yet. They accept suggestions, send them on...

Recording companies, where are thou?



domingo, fevereiro 24
 
JOKES FROM LÍLIAN

A guy from Brooklyn was in Hong Kong passing through the native quarter,
and was surprised to see a synagogue. He went in and sure enough, he saw a
Chinese rabbi and a Chinese congregation. The service was touching.
As the service ended, the rabbi stood at the door greeting his congregants.
When our Brooklyn friend came up, the rabbi said,
"You Jew?"
"Yes, I'm Jewish," replied the Brooklynite.
"Funny," said the rabbi. "You don't look it."
--------------------------------------

A Jewish lady's grandson is playing in the water, she is standing on the
beach not wanting to get her feet wet, when all of a sudden, a huge wave
appears from nowhere and crashes directly over the spot where the boy is
wading. The water recedes and the boy is no longer there. He simply vanished.
She holds her hands to the sky, screams and cries, "Lord, how could you?
Have I not been a wonderful mother and grandmother? Have I not given to
Bnai Brith and Haddasah? Have I not tried my very best to live a life that
you would be proud of?
A few minutes later another huge wave appears out of nowhere and crashes on
the beach. As the water recedes, the boy is standing there, smiling,
splashing around as if nothing had ever happened.
A loud voice booms from the sky, "Okay, okay, I have returned your
grandson. Are you satisfied?
She responds, "He had a hat."


------------------------------------

A Jewish girl went to London to work as a secretary and began sending home
money and gifts to her parents. After a few years, they asked her to come
home for a visit, as her elderly father was getting frail. She pulled up to
the family home in a Rolls Royce and stepped out wearing fur and diamonds.


As she walked into the house her father said 'Hmmm - they seem to be paying
secretaries awfully well in London.' The girl took his hands and said,
"Papa I've been meaning to tell you something for years but I didn't want
to put it in a letter. I can't hide it from you any longer. I've become a
prostitute." Her father gasped, put his hand over his heart and keeled over.


The doctor was called but the old man had clearly lost the will to live.

He was put to bed and the Rabbi was called. As the Rabbi was comforting,
the mother and daughter, the old man muttered weakly,


"I'm a goner, killed by my own daughter! Killed by the shame of what you've
become!"

"Please forgive me", his daughter sobbed. "I only wanted to have nice
things! I wanted to be able to send you money and the only way I could do
it was by becoming a prostitute."


The old man sat bolt upright in bed, brushing the Rabbi aside, and was
smiling. "Did you say prostitute? That was a close one - I thought you said
Protestant!"


=======================================

Lenin in Poland

Brezhnev wished to commission a portrait to be entitled "Lenin in Poland"
in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The problem
was that Russian painters, being schooled strictly in the realist school of
thought, were unable to paint an event which never occurred.


"Comrade Brezhnev, we would like to do it, but we cannot. It goes against
our training," was the reply which the Chairman received from every artist
he asked. Finally, after getting refusals from all of the great artists in
Moscow, Brezhnev was forced to go ask the old Jewish painter, Levy.


"Of course, I prefer to portray actual events, but I'll do the painting for
you, Comrade. It would be my great honor." Levy commenced work on the
painting. However, every time that Brezhnev visited his studio in an
attempt to see the work in progress, Levy rebuffed his efforts, telling him
that he never allowed his unfinished works to be viewed.


Finally, the day of the unveiling arrived. Levy stood proudly by the cloth
draped over his work. Brezhnev introduced Levy and gestured to his gift to
the Russian people on the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, a
picture commemorating Lenin's historic visit to Poland. Everyone gasped as
the cloth was removed to reveal a picture of a man and a woman together in
bed.


Brezhnev was stunned. "Whoa, who is that man?" he stammered.

"Why, that's Trotsky."

"And who," Brezhnev inquired, "is that woman?"

"That is Lenin's wife, Comrade Brezhnev."

"But where is Lenin?"

"He's in Poland."
quinta-feira, fevereiro 21
 


COMMENT

OH, LIFE is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

Dorothy Parker


 

For

SONNET TO A CAT
CAT! who hast pass'd thy grand climacteric,
How many mice and rats hast in thy days
Destroy'd? -- How many tit bits stolen? Gaze
With those bright languid segments green, and prick
Those lovely velvet ears -- but pr'ythee do not stick
Thy latent talons in me -- and upraise
Thy gentle mew -- and tell me all thy frays
Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick.
Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists --
For all the wheezy asthma, -- and for all
Thy tail's tip is nick'd off -- and though the fists
Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
Still is that fur as soft as when the lists
In youth thou enter'dst on glass bottled wall.

--John Keats

domingo, fevereiro 17
 
BLIND AS A BAT

Sorry, friends, but this blogger will disappear for a couple of days. That is because I am having new contact lenses made, and the ophtalmologist said I have to stay at least 3 days wearing no contacts so that my eyes can be measured properly. That means I cannot see at all, since my eyes are just awfull... I'll see (!!!!!) you soon, though.
 

Saiu no Platypus...

Written by two reviewers for the print-based Fanfare magazine, Mostly Music contains quotes about music and reviews of classical music by Laura ("I am addicted to period instruments") and Tom ("The joy in this music should sparkle with wit, the sadness weep").
Poetry in three languages complements the high-culture tone of this blog; only go here if you know your arpeggios from your allegros.

sábado, fevereiro 16
 
AND YET WE KEEP TRYING...

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.
Elvis Costello


sexta-feira, fevereiro 15
 

Really bad...


Spent the evening with Dr. Dick Swain (Rider University, Professor of Art History) at the McCarter Theater in Princeton. It was opening night for a revival of an older play by Edward Albee. The author was present.
It was the worst night of theater I have EVER spent. The script was terrible, though the two leading actresses tried valiantly. Just awful. Yuck. It was just perfect for Princeton though - boring, pretentious, emotionally shut-down. Wow.


 

Why God does not have a Ph.D.:


1. He had only one major publication.

2. It was in Hebrew.

3. It had no references.

4. It wasn't published in a refereed journal.

5. Some even doubt he wrote it himself.

6. It may be true that he created the world, but what has he done since then?

7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.

8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.

9. He never applied to the ethics board for permission to use human subjects.

10. When one experiment went awry he tried to cover it by drowning his subjects.

11. When subjects didn't behave as predicted, he deleted them from the sample.

12. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.

13. Some say he had his son teach the class.

14. He expelled his first two students for learning.

15. Although there were only 10 requirements, most of his students failed his tests.

16. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.


 


A TRUE STORY (don’t you think The Reader's Digest would pay for this one?)


There was a young woman, once, who saw war, and lost a large part of her life in Europe. Her house, her friends, her piano. But they did not take away her pleasure, her talent and joie-de-vivre. And her harmonica. She managed to escape, and reconstruct her soul in a country in the South, where she met a man, got married, had children, became a university professor. And played the harmonica, first for her husband, then for her children and friends, then for her grandchildren.

One day her house was robbed, and the creeps who stole her TV, stereo, silver and jewelry also stole the humble harmonica; a German Hohner, chromatic model. Her relatives insisted that she buy another. No, she said. It's no use. I will never find one just like that one. And in fact, no one ever did find one just like that one. So for twenty years nobody heard the plaintive sounds of the harmonica anymore, and the house was silent. Except for the sound of the flute, played by the woman’s younger daughter, who became - you guessed it? - a musician (nobody is perfect!).

Years passed, and her two children grew up and had children of their own. The woman’s older daughter got married, had a son and a daughter, and they eventually grew up, married Americans and moved to the States.The son became a father, and he would longingly tell his daughter about his beloved grandmother, and how she used to play the harmonica for him, when he was a little boy, before The Great House Robbery.

But the sound of the harmonica was just a pale memory, a thin sound lost in the waves of the aggressive noises of daily life. After a while, nobody mentioned the harmonica anymore, and that was that.

One day, the grandson in America was out for a leisurely walk, and fell upon a garage sale. In the mumble-jumble piled over a wobbly table a patch of color caught his eye. It was a familiar dark red harmonica case, the blue Hohner name discreetly showing beneath some less dignified junk. Inside, rusty and dilapidated, was the magical harmonica, just like the one grandma had had and loved. It even had the original instruction booklet, and a date, printed on the case’s edge: 1937.

Unfortunately it was just the ghost of an instrument. Decades of neglect had taken a toll, and it spoke no more, and cried no more. The mechanism was gone, the shine was lost. But the grandson was an optimist, and a very stubborn optimist, to boot. Certainly $7 were worth the risks. He bought the harmonica, and carefully opened its bowels, performing a delicate and lovingly planned operation. The results? A true miracle: the harmonica came to life once more, and seemed anxious to be put to good use.

Last week the young man came to his sunny motherland to visit his family and introduce to them his new son, a lovely 3-month old gringo. And, as a surprise, he brought the instrument to his grandma.

I think you can all imagine her face when she opened her gift. But you will not be able to guess what was the first piece she played on it, after twenty years of musical silence. Twinkle twinkle little star? Happy birthday to you? Nope, try again.



Never losing a beat, and technically clean as if she had never stopped practicing, grandma soloed…STORMY WEATHER.

Get that.

quinta-feira, fevereiro 14
 
Another of those tests.....


Take the What
animal best portrays your sexual appetite??
Quiz


 

America the great


American infants are more likely to die than infants in other rich countries. Accidents kill more children in America than in any other rich country. American ninth graders use more amphetamines and cocaine than ninth graders in other rich countries. American teenagers also have many more babies than teenagers in other rich countries. And young adults murder one another more often in America than in other rich countries.
Christopher Jencks, New York Review of Books, Dec. 20, 2001
 

Rosen on Music


From the New York Review of Books, Dec. 20, 2001:
The love of music is a natural human instinct, but the love of classical music is something else again: it may even be reasonably considered to be perverse.
 

Wilmington, DE



Last night I went to dine and play with my friends Tracy Richardson and Mark Haggerty who live in Wilmington, Delaware
, a little over an hour drive from beautiful Mill Hill. Tracy played a duo-harpsichord concert with Janet Palumbo of Triomphe de l'Amour last Saturday in Princeton - some French pieces (Gaspard Le Roux, Couperin), a W.F. Bach concerto for two harpsichords (no strings), and a duo by Dr. Burney

(one of six for which the Princeton U. library has the original edition). Janet played a set of folia variations by CPE Bach, and Tracy a Haydn sonata. Not very well attended, alas.
We had a delicious repast and then played some CPE Bach flute sonatas, along with a duo for recorder and harpsichord by Hans Ulrich Staeps
which I had bought 25 years ago and never gotten around to playing. Rather Hindemithian. Mark is in the final stages of completing a score for the Relache ensemble. He will be writing a new flute duo for your bloggers to play. Last year I heard a suite for solo cello by him played by Doug McNames at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Simply astounding, both the piece and its performance.

Doug McNames, Tracy Richardson, Kim Reighley
 

Mysteries



At the college where I work there is a production of the Vagina Monologues. Interestingly enough the college library does not own a copy of the monologues (you can read sample pages at Amazon). The production is selling t-shirts that say "It's ten o'clock. Do you know where your clitoris is?". On the paths around the campus there is chalked publicity saying things like "V is for Vagina", "Love your body", and many others. For this male this is baffling. Would it be necessary to ask a man where his penis is?
What is the dynamic that makes this consciousness-raising necessary? Inquiring minds want to know.
quarta-feira, fevereiro 13
 


I had a fabulous time watching "The Visitors" last night. More later.
 

Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury

Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1582-1648), ambassador to France for James I between 1619-1624, brother to the famous poet George Herbert, was a well-rounded man of many talents, among these music. He left an extensive manuscript collection of pieces for ten-course lute (numbering 242), including much music which he must have collected in France, and also documenting the swan song of the lute in England. The main courses are still tuned after the Renaissance fashion - shortly thereafter the newer French tunings would become the standard.

Paul O'Dette has made an admirable selection of music heretofore virtually unexplored on disc, evenly divided between the French and English styles. To my ear the French works are more pleasing than astonishing, though the anonymous Chacogne and the strummed Sarabande by Polonais (the earliest extant sarabande for lute, according to O'Dette) make a strong impression. The real discovery here is the music of Cuthbert Hely, who seems to have been Herbert's lute teacher, and whose works (a total of six) survive only in Herbert's manuscript.

Diana Poulton says in Grove "His music is of astonishing intensity", and she's right - this is dark and brooding music, exploring the depths of the instrument, with some remarkable harmonies. Particularly striking is the last fantasy included here which drives its single theme through four minutes of development. The music of Daniel Bacheler (primarily represented on disc by his "Mounsier's Almaine") and Robert Johnson (who shared a Junghänel release with Thomas Robinson - Accent 8121, not yet out on CD) also deserves the extended look it receives here. O'Dette closes the disc with a composition of Herbert himself. Lord Herbert must have been a pretty fair lutenist, to judge from his book, but his pavan rambles.

A worthy and absorbing release from one of the ornaments of our time.

(reviewed 1992)

LORD HERBERT OF CHERBURY'S LUTE BOOK. Paul O'Dette, lute. HARMONIA MUNDI FRANCE 907068 [DDD?]; 76:38. Produced by Christel Thielmann.

ANON: En me revenant. Chacogne. GAULTIER: Courante. Courante "Son adieu". Courante sur "J'avois brisé mes fers". DESPOND: Filou. BACHELER: Prelude. Fantasie. Galliard upon a galliard by John Dowland. Pavin. 3 Courantes. La jeune fillette. R. JOHNSON: Pavin. Almaine. Fantasie. LORENZINI DI ROMA: Fantasia. CATO: Fantasia sopra la canzon degli uccelli. C. HELY: 3 Fantasias. Sarabrand. POLONAIS: Courante sur le Courante de Perrichon. Sarabande. HERBERT OF CHERBURY: Pavan.



 

The Devil's Fiddler (in music for Nossa Senhora)




The genius of Reinhard Goebel is of the sort that inspires passionate disagreement between his partisans and detractors. He is a musician, who though using period instruments, seems quintessentially romantic in his search for extremes of expression, and perhaps at his best in the truly baroque music of the seventeenth century, when theatrical gesture had not yet given way to the more calculated pleasantries of the galant.

His recording of Biber's landmark collection is the fifth on CD. That of John Holloway (Virgin 790838) reviewed in Fanfare 14:6 had been my preferred reading to date. Goebel's renderings are in strong contrast to those of Holloway. Holloway leans more toward the pictorial. This is program music (his notes trace the appropriate passages from scripture), and in places, e.g., the sunrise which begins the Easter sonata Holloway has greater success. In general his approach is atmospheric, with slower tempos, smoother articulation, fewer contrasts, less bite - all in all, in soft focus.

However, as Goebel points out in his notes, these sonatas "are assembled from dance movements and their busy doubles " , and it is this quality of the dance which is most evident in his playing, with its incisive rhythmic drive and variety of articulation. Compare the prelude to the fifteenth sonata (the Coronation of the Virgin). Here Holloway is beautiful but diffuse; Goebel sounds altogether more idiomatic in the double stopping, reminiscent of Biber's Italian contemporaries. Or take the setting of Surrexit Christus hodie in the Easter sonata: a hymn, yes, but here also a dance, with the remarkable ocurrence of the tune in triple octaves recalling the Polish music so well-known to Biber and Schmelzer. All in all, Goebel's playing here reflects a consummate mastery of and rejoicing in the challenges posed by Biber's writing.

Warmly recommended.
(reviewed in 1992)


BIBER: Mystery Sonatas. Reinhard Goebel, violin; Phoebe Carrai, cello; Konrad Junghänel, lute; Andreas Spering, harpsichord, organ. ARCHIV 431 656-2 [DDD]; two discs: 53:31, 60:07.



 
More from the Wayback Machine (1990) - Julianne Baird


The soprano Julianne Baird is well-known to early music cognoscenti - she toured and recorded extensively with the Waverly Consort for much of the eighties, and has appeared on recordings of Bach with the Smithsonian and with Joshua Rifkin's Bach Ensemble for Oiseau-Lyre. She seems ready to introduce her talents to a much larger audience, with three
recent successes on Troy, New York's Dorian label presaging a burgeoning of releases in 1990.

Baird's soprano is an instantly recognizable instrument. The immediate impression is one of little or no vibrato, but that's not quite on the mark. She sings with a narrow and rather fast vibrato which doesn't blur the edges of the pitch. Likewise it would be inaccurate to group her with the sopranos working in early music who have high, predominantly lyric voices. Baird's voice seems most at home in a range closer to that of the mezzo-soprano, but without the weight usually associated with that voice. One of the joys of her singing is the fluidity and accuracy she brings to the florid divisions of the early seventeenth century ( using a technique of throat articulation, or in Italian, gorgheggiare.

Baird, who is still in her thirties, received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Eastman, and then spent a year in Austria before proceeding to Stanford, where she began a doctorate in music (the Stanford D.M.A. program combines practical instruction in early instruments for the professional with training in musicology, and trained the sopranist Randall Wong and harpschordist Charlotte Mattax, among many others). Professional success (in the form of the Waverly Consort) took her away from campus, but she expects to complete the program this year (having prepared a translation with commentary on Johann Friedrich Agricola's l757 translation with commentary of Tosi's widely influential work on singing, theOpinioni de' cantori antichi e moderni.

We spoke at her rambling nineteenth-century home in suburban Philadelphia, a city not known (at least not yet) for the performance of early music.
Want to read more? Click here.
terça-feira, fevereiro 12
 

More proverbs and citations



From a Spanish website, this is claimed to be a Brazilian proverb:

Somos lo que hacemos, sobretodo lo que hacemos para cambiar lo que somos.
We are what we do, above all, what we do to change what we are.

Il en est du véritable amour comme de l'apparition des esprits : tout le monde en parle, mais peu de gens en ont vu.
True love is like seeing a ghost: every one talks about it, but few have seen it.
La Rochefoucauld

Il faut ne choisir pour épouse que la femme qu'on choisirait pour ami, si elle était un homme.
One must choose for a wife the woman that one would choose for a friend, were she a man.
J. Joubert

La raison peut nous avertir de ce qu'il faut éviter, le coeur seul nous dit ce qu'il faut faire.
Reason can warn us what we must avoid, but the heart alone tells us what we must do.
J. Joubert
segunda-feira, fevereiro 11
 
More on love

Would you trust a Irishman to talk of love? An Irishman loves his drink, not his woman. Here are some Italian proverbs on love (they should know....).

Chi dice che per amor non si muore, pure per amor si viene a morire.
The man who says that no one dies of love is the one for whom it is fatal.

Il fiore quando ama diventa frutto.
The flower, when it loves, becomes fruit.

L'amore non e' bello, se non e' litigarello.
Love is not beautiful if there's not some bickering.

Per amore anche una donna onesta può perdere la testa.
For the sake of love even an honest woman can lose her head.

Trova chiù ampresso 'a femmena 'na scusa, ca 'o sòrece 'o pertoso.
A woman can find an excuse more quickly than a mouse can find a mousehole.

Con la moglie a lato l'uomo è sempre beato.
When his wife is by his side a man is always blessed.

A ‘o munno quatto cose te fanno cunzulà: ‘a fenìmena, l’argiamma, lo suonno e lu magnà.
Four things there are to console you in this world: a woman, money, sleeping, and eating.

Chi se mette appaura, nun se cocca cu ‘e femmene belle.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

‘E femmene ne sanno una cchiù d’ ‘o diavolo.
Women know more than the devil himself.

Ogne riccio, nu capriccio.
She has as many whims as she has curls.

Na muglìera brutta è peggio ‘e nu diebbito.
An ugly woman is worse than an unpaid debt.

L'amuri c'un vene do core è cumu na minestra senza sale
Love that doesn't come from the heart is like a soup with no salt.

E' miegliu ccu nu giuvine gorire, ca ccu nu viecchiu cuntare dinari.
Better to enjoy your young man, than to count money with an old man.

L'uomine de iuornu ha d'essere voiu, de notte ha d'essere toru.
A man has to be an ox by day, and a bull by night.

Mostrami la moglie e ti dirò che marito ha
Show me the wife, I will tell you what sort of husband she has.

Chi ha quattrini conta e chi ha bella moglie canta
A man with money counts it; a man with a beautiful wife sings.

A chi prende moglie ci voglion due cervelli
A man who takes a wife needs two brains.


 


CCLXXXVIII.

P. B. Shelley (1792-1822)


MUSIC, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken;

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heap'd for the belovèd's bed:
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

domingo, fevereiro 10
 


Is an image worth a thousand words?


No text, yet. But I just loved the image. Tom, how about finding a text that will fit this?
 
WELL, I NEVER HAD THE COURAGE TO CONFESS, BUT IF MT SAYS IT...

I have witnessed and greatly enjoyed the first act of everything which Wagner created, but the effect on me has always been so powerful that one act was quite sufficient; whenever I have witnessed two acts I have gone away physically exhausted; and whenever I have ventured an entire opera the result has been the next thing to suicide.
Mark Twain, 1891
 

AHA!!!

The perfect love affair is one which is conducted entirely by post.
George Bernard Shaw
 

OUR DAILY QUOTES


The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true.
Robert Oppenheimer


A pessimist is one who has been intimately acquainted with an optimist.
Elbert Hubbard

sábado, fevereiro 9
 

FAUTE DE MIEUX
Dorothy Parker


TRAVEL, trouble, music, art,
A kiss, a frock, a rhyme-
I never said they feed my heart,
But still they pass my time.





sexta-feira, fevereiro 8
 

MORE BACH

Bach’s solo cello suites are, without a doubt, true masterpieces.

Sublime yet never too heavy, profound but never boring, they achieve a perfect balance between implied harmony, singing melody and rhythmic variety. One would imagine that they would be, to music, what shrimp is to the culinary arts: the foolproof goods, impossible to spoil. Having been transcribed to every possible instrument, they have been used as soundtrack for bad soap operas and good movies, and even after three centuries they continue to be a challenge to the best cellists in the world.


So it is not entirely surprising to find them in a recorder version. After all, having lost its place to the traverso from the middle of the eighteenth century on, the recorder suffers from a blatant lack of repertoire, and recorder players are always trying to expand the depth and reach of the pieces available to them. In this case, with dubious results.


In this 1999 recording, the jacket cover has a quote from Fanfare, which praises these performances as “committed and convincing”. I agree in part. More precisely, I agree with the “committed” bit. As to convincing…


Ms Verbruggen is a very accomplished player. Her fabulous technique, fast fingers, perfect articulation, suave breathing and good musical instinct have given us many a pleasurable moment. The present CD is a tour de force, with passages where it is almost hard to believe that only one instrument is playing. In the liner text (by John Butt) a very coherent reasoning almost manages to make us believe that this shrimp dish will taste even better than the original recipe. Almost.

The Bach suites, however spare in their chordal writing, are still dependent on the vertical structure, and even though the beauty of several melodic lines makes them tempting for a recorder player, the harmonic aspects sometimes override all others. This happens specially in the preludes, and in several of the slower movements as well. Ms Verbruggen opted to utilize appoggiaturas to evoke the resonant double-stops of the cello. In fact this substitution is all-pervasive and extremely annoying at times, and notwithstanding the technical prowess, the effect touches on the ridiculous (the second gavotte in BWV 1012 is a good example of this: the constant appoggiaturas end up reminding the listener of some hysterical bagpipes lost in the highlands).


The absolute impossibility of the recorder to sound ponderous is a major drawback, and affects all the slow movements. But even in the faster movements or the ones where melodic lines are dominant, and which might seem appropriate for a wind instrument, the high, clear timbre of the recorder is indeed a very poor substitute for the deep, dark timbre of the cello. Not to mention the differences in expressive and dynamic range between the two instruments. Borrowing another analogy from the animal kingdom, it feels like a mouse trying to imitate an elephant.
This version is curious, and of interest to recorder players in general. To anyone else, the original works are more attractive by far, and make for an easier listening.

BACH Suites for recorder (trans. from the originals for solo vc); No. 4, in Eb, BWV 1010; No. 5, in c, BWV 1011; No. 6, in D, BWV 1012. Marion Verbruggen (rcr). Harmonia Mundi HMU CD 907260 (75:35)

Fanfare, September/October 2001


 

From the Wayback Machine



Laura, three years ago

The Wayback Machine is an archive of the web beginning Jan. 1996.
The page with the photo above no longer exists at the original site, but it and all of its contents (on a succession of dates) are at the Wayback machine.
 

Both Jan Dismas Zelenka, of Bohemia, and Johann Georg Pisendel spent most of their careers at the Catholic court of the Elector of Saxony in Dresden. Zelenka joined the court orchestra as double-bassist in 1710; Pisendel, as a violinist, in 1712 (he became concertmaster in 1730). Given their prominent position on today's concert scene, it's worth noting that each also composed a rather small number of instrumental works. Oboists have been devoted to the set of six lengthy and quite demanding trio sonatas from Zelenka; these, the works included on this disc, and a handful more comprise his entire output of instrumental music (as composer for the church he produced a larger number of masses and motets). Pisendel was probably the leading German violinist of his day (Telemann, if I recall correctly, describes locking himself up for days practicing in order to be able play with Pisendel), but only seven violin concertos, a few violin sonatas, and two or three other works .

Pisendel

Pisendel's violin concerto in D is a masterful work, novel in its musical effects (the change of affect from a quick triple meter to a slow duple in the initial allegro is striking), and brilliant in its exploitation of the solo violin. Leader Gottfried von der Goltz shines here. The two-movement gradual sonata is comprised of a slow introduction followed by a wonderful fugue, a piece of thrilling and effective counterpoint that Handel would have been proud to steal.

Zelenka's orchestral music combines Telemann's ear for effective tone-painting (for example, the bizarre twists and turns depicting the hypochondriac in Hipocondrie - surely this french ouverture must have been followed by other character pieces making up the rest of a full suite) and use of instrumental color with a tendency to musical structures of Bachian proportions. The Simphonie has some delightful moments as well - the thoroughly Parisian gavotte with its capricious moves to the minor, and the pairs of duets in the following aria (cello and bassoon constrasting with the violin and oboe).

The performances by the Freiburger Barockorchester are first-rate, with plaudits due to Goltz, oboist Ku Ebbinge, bassoonist Guido Larisch, and cellist Guido Larisch. The recorded sound is luscious, warm and clear, with all the details telling. Most warmly recommended - this orchestra goes from strength to strength.

ZELENKA: Hipocondrie, ZWV 187. Concerto à 8 Concertanti in G, ZWV 186. Simphonie à 8 Concertanti in A Minor, ZWV 189. PISENDEL: Concerto in D for violin and orchestra. Sonata in C Minor for Oboes, Strings and Continuo. Gottfried von der Goltz directing the Freiburger Barockorchester. DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 05472 77339 2 [DDD]; 63:50. Produced by Jan Höfermann.

 

Ilton

Brazilian Ilton Wjuniski, a student of Huguette Dreyfus, Kenneth Gilbert, and Gustav Leonhardt, here makes his solo debut with a disc of rare Spanish and Portuguese works heard on clavichord, an instrument perhaps unique in Western music in that its sounds are meant solely for the delectation of the player, being so soft that they can scarcely be heard a short distance away (thus representing perhaps the reductio ad absurdum of the period-instrument aesthetic).

Within its small dynamic range, however, the player can create dynamic inflections unavailable on the the harpsichord or organ, since the string are hit with tangents (pieces of metal), and many eighteenth-century writers praised the instrument for allowing a nuanced and cantabile style of performance.


Wjuniski's selection from a century or so of Iberian keyboard writing produces an other-worldly, ethereal atmosphere, as many of the works draw on a strong tradition of abstract counterpoint, with the form of the works unconstrained by strong rhythmic shapes or predictable harmonies - the antithesis of how we often think of Spanish music, and perhaps more related to the ecstatic religious meditations of the siglo de oro. Popular music only makes its appearance in the variations on the xacara by Olague (a simple variation between tonic and dominant), the Italian pavane of Cabezon, and the canzona style of Carreira's canção. Wjuniski's performances make full use of the expressive possibilities of the instrument without sounding precious. A few of the works will be found on other recordings, but many will be new to most collections. Recommended.

IBERIAN MUSIC ON THE CLAVICHORD. Ilton Wjuniski, clavichord. HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 905236 [DDD]; 75:34. Produced by Thomas Drescher.

CABEZON: Tiento. Susana. Discante sobre la pavana italiana. CORREA DE ARAUXO: Tientos. OLAGUE: Variedades da Xácara. CABANILLES: Tiento; Gallardas. MUDARRA: Cifras. CARREIRA: Canção. REIS: Concertado sobre o Canto Chão de Ave Maris Stella. COELHO: Susana grozada. Kyries. BRAGA: Batalha. ANON: Himno.

 

Lady of flowers

Brigitte Lesne

Discantus has three earlier outings for Opus 111, which have been welcomed warmly by J.F. Weber. This is the first to be sent my way from Tenafly, and I'm happy to say that I can fully concur with my colleague. Brigitte Lesne has produced here a lovely recording, beautifully sung and well-programmed.


In earlier years (that is, back in my student days) the emphasis in presenting the music of this period was often on the extensive and ambitious masterworks of organum by Perotin, to the exclusion of the simpler and more direct joys of conductus and its poetry. Though Lesne's collection of Marian works includes conductus, motet and organum (drawn primarily from the Florence, Montpellier, and Wolfenbüttel manuscripts), what sets the tone is the conductus. Particularly ravishing is the Ave venerabilis, with its hypnotic succession of short phrases praising and imploring the Virgin. Also standing out is the extensive monophonic prosa from the Dublin Troper, Flos de spina procreatur, sung unaccompanied by Lesne.


Lesne's vocal production does not sound like the result of conventional training - her tone (hard to characterize as soprano or alto , since missing the usual markers) is predominantly straight, but a fast vibrato creeps in at moments of emphasis. The ensemble singing reflects a similar esthetic, producing a well-tuned and transparent sound, which suits the music very well.
The recorded sound is attractive, and the booklet provides intelligent notes
and complete texts and translations. Recommended.

DAME DE FLORS: ECOLE NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS. Brigitte Lesne directing Discantus (Anne Guidet, Claire Jéquier, Lucie Jolivet, Brigitte Le Baron, Brigitte Lesne, Anne Quintin, Catherine Schroeder, Catherine Sergent). OPUS 111 OPS 30-175 [DDD]; 59:11. Produced by Laurence Heym.

ANON: Veris ad imperia. Ave, nobilis, venerabilis. Glorieuse deu amie. Flos in monte cernitur. Flos de spina rumpitur/REGNAT. Fons preclusus. Benedicamus domino. Tu decus es. Novum ver oirtur. Illuxit lux. Flos de spina procreatur. Veri floris sub figura. Candida virginitas. Stirps Jesse. Salve, virgo virginum. Ave rosa novella. Nobili precinitur. A la clarté qui tout enlumina. O lilium convallium. O Maria, stella maris.



quinta-feira, fevereiro 7
 
Dvorak on blogs
 

Igor Kipnis

Kipnis died at the end of January. This is the interview I did with him at his home in
Connecticut in the early fall of 2001.


Harpsichordist Igor Kipnis was synonymous with the harpsichord in the United States when I was growing up as a young early music fanatic three decades ago. Since then Kipnis has continued to be active in a field that has expanded enormously. The roster of stellar musicians with whom Kipnis has collaborated is kilometric, and his discography likewise. Angel is reissuing his recordings from the seventies on the Seraphim Classics label. Recent recordings for Kipnis include a variety of chamber music discs, with especial fondness for the four-hands repertoire which he has been exploring with the Kipnis-Kushner Duo

- Dvorak, Brahms and Grieg for Palatine Recordings, Brahms, Schubert, Ravel, Faure and the Brazilian Calimerio Soares for Parnassus Records, as well as a collaboration with David Shostac

for the Bach flute sonatas (Resort Classic). An exciting project is the premiere of the Glass harpsichord concerto, to take place in Seattle in 2002, where it will be performed by the Northwest Chamber Orchestra with conductor Ralf Gothoni, and likely recorded for release.
I interviewed Kipnis at his residence in the beautifully hilly woods of Redding, Connecticut, not far from New York City. Click here if you want to read the interview..

quarta-feira, fevereiro 6
 

FROM THE QUOTATION DEPARTMENT:

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
Scott Adams

If love is the answer , could you please rephrase the question?
Lily Tomlin


 
ODE

Arthur O'Shaughnessy. (1844–1881)

WE are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
on whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.


With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.



 

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.
from Orthodoxy (1908) by G. K. Chesterton
 

Irish Bach




Anyone who has heard James Galway in concert will have been impressed by the artist's wizardry with the flute. Galway's technical and lyrical gifts are fully evident here; I am most especially captivated by his remarkable control over tone color, and the beautiful cantabile quality of the lines he spins out.

Nevertheless I have some reservations. Galway's modern instrument and luscious tone obliterates musical distinctions that must have been present for Bach - the differences in tone color from key to key for the flute that Bach knew. The most striking differences occur at the extremes of what was possible on the Baroque flute - E-flat major, the key of BWV 1031, where the fingerings for many important notes - subdominant and dominant especially- produce a soft, muted effect, or E major, the key of BWV 1035, a thinner, brighter, less covered key. Bach certainly took these sounds into account in his writing for the instrument.

Galway has chosen to part with the conventional wisdom and reinforce the bass line with a viola da gamba in all of the sonatas, those with concertato harpsichord, as well as those for flute and continuo. This is a valid option - Bach's autograph for the sonatas for violin and cembalo notes "col basso per Viola da Gamba accompagnato se piace". RCA's recording, puts Galway to the fore, harpsichordist Moll next, with gambist Cunningham last.

Not for my want list, partisan that I am. Perhaps for yours?


BACH: Sonatas for flute, BWV 1020, 1030, 1031, 1033-1035. James Galway, flute; Philip Moll, harpsichord; Sarah Cunningham, viola da gamba. RCA VICTOR RED SEAL 09026-62555-2 [DDD]; 75:14. Produced by Ralph Mace.

terça-feira, fevereiro 5
 

From Veia Bailarina, by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão





I always had a dream: to move to Rio de Janeiro. I have a strange attraction-repulsion for the city. I was always attracted by its acrid, penetrating smell, which sticks to your fingertips, and excites me like a sweaty woman. In Rio, our skin pulses, melts, your mouth is filled with salt, there is a never-to-be-resolved mystery, an unknown woman in the stifling nights which suffocate and heighten our desires....I didn't go, and for decades I survived with a longing for a city that moves me, disturbs me, produces fear, happiness, arousal. There we are aroused constantly, by people, by the atmosphere, by the decadence, by the spirit of the place. A modern city, and so old, full of myths, where everything happened, happens, and is going to happen. In the present, it is nourished by the past, lives for the future, and the enigma which it is manages to always live the now. The history of Brazil always comes through here. ....A city-star, we need it.
 
Naked


This quiz says absolutely nothing about your personality. Take it!



 

An interview with Paul Hillier (1995)



Paul Hillier has achieved wide renown among lovers of a cappella music through his long tenure with the Hilliard Ensemble, of which he was co-founder and musical director, and his many recordings. In 1990 Hillier took up a professorship in the music department of the University of California at Davis (betweenthe Bay Area and Sacramento in the Central Valley). There his primary responsibilities are choral music and choral conducting (he conducts the two largest choirs, one of 100-150 voices, and a chamber choir of twenty to twenty-four), though he is involved as well in teaching vocal performance, ensemble singing, and performance practice as well as seminars on other topics. Davis is a fairly small department, with about a dozen faculty members, and offers the Ph.D in musicology and composition and the M.A. in conducting. Hillier's first extended exposure to the Golden State was a stint in 1980 as a Visiting Lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, and though he's at home in California, he affirms a partiality for the whole west coast. He also has an ongoing, if informal relationship, with His Majestie's Clerkes in Chicago. We talked by phone.If you want to know what he said, click here.

 

An old picture



Vineyard Sound, summer 1991, at the wheel of a 24-foot catboat

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