good deal of what I have written here is related (sometimes only tangentially) to serious music. Some posts are accompanied by live broadcast recordings. To contact me, email at boomboomsky at gmail dot com.
There are no commercial recordings on this blog.
A word of warning: Occasionally I use strong (and insensitive) language in referring to various arrogant and incompetent assholes who managed to get on my nerves. Or simply because it gets a point across with greater directness and transparency. If you are squeamish about such language, then stay away from this blog.

January 27, 2012


This may get my avatar pasted on many dartboards, but I think only a juvenile mind can be fascinated by music whose principal aim is to show how to keep an orchestra busy with a single triad for nearly half an hour at a stretch.  Which is what Bruckner's symphonies offer in abundance.  And for many elderly maestros these symphonies also offer a pleasurable and socially respectable way of regressing to the wide-eyed mind set of their teenage years - the years when metaphysical significance seemed to be attached to even the simplest pleasures, be they an 80-minute long Bruckner symphony blasted in the basement of your parents' house, or a 5-minute long handjob administered by your college sweetheart in the deserted basement of the University library.

January 24, 2012

Ilya Rashkovsky

In science and mathematics building on the work of others to obtain deeper discoveries and more powerful explanations is essential to progress in these fields.  But even if  your results reach much deeper and wider than those of your older colleagues, this in no way negates the value of the latter's contributions to the discipline.

In music, on the other hand, things can be strikingly different.  If someone takes the formal, stylistic, thematic, and harmonic elements of your compositions and uses them to create deeper, richer, and more powerful music, chances are good that he will get all the credit from posterity, while you will end up being royally fucked.  Your music will be all but unknown to future generations of music lovers because it will be ignored by performers, dismissed by composition teachers, overlooked by record companies, and denigrated (if mentioned at all) by popular accounts of the history of music.  

January 22, 2012

Delusional young pianists

Sometimes I think that many young concert pianists are simply delusional.  Surely they must know that, to attract the relatively small number of people who go to piano recitals and buy piano recordings, they must compete against countless other young pianists with similar training, talent, and technical endowment.  To make matters worse, in the concert hall these youngsters also have to compete against the still living "giants of the keyboard", and on recordings against the living giants as well as the dead ones.

So, what does the young pianist do to improve his (or her) odds in this brutally competitive market?  Does he try to intrigue you with a rare opportunity to hear a live performance of some unjustly neglected piano music of the past, say a passionate proto-Romantic sonata by Dussek or Hummel?  Does he try to ignite your curiosity with a rarely heard work by an important 20th century composer, such as the melancholy first sonata of Roger Sessions, or one of Stockhausen's haunting Klavierstucke ,  or perhaps Elliott Carter's moody Night Fantasies?  Hell no!  He expects you to spend your time and money to attend a recital whose program consists entirely of pieces that have been played and recorded ad nauseam by just about every great, almost-great, and far-from-great pianist of the century.  A typical example is Cedric Tiberghian's recital in Hohenems (May 21, 2011), where he played Beethoven's Moonglight Sonata, Ravel's Gaspard, and Schumann's Kresleriana.

Now let me get this straight: The young pianist expects me to dress up, drive across town, pay for parking, pay for tickets, sit for two hours in the auditorium, and then take a long drive back home - all for the privilege of hearing the fucking Moonlight Sonata played by some sultry-looking, carefully groomed, and fashionably attired skinny metrosexual twenty-something???  I would pass on this kind of recital program even if the ticket included a free backstage blowjob from the artist during the intermission.  And I consider myself a fairly typical pianophile...

The point of all this is not that Cedric Tiberghien's  playing of tired "masterpieces" shows him to be a bad pianist or inadequate musician.  On the contrary, I think he is quite good.  The problem is that there are too many other young pianists who are at least as good as he is.  And most of them seem to be equally delusional in their belief that they can attain pianistic glory by starting off with recitals consisting of sorely overplayed and numbingly over-recorded segments of the piano repertoire.

January 9, 2012


Years ago my then girlfriend and I had dinner at Spago, a once popular Los Angeles restaurant in the hills above Sunset Boulevard.  Three tables from where we were sitting I saw a muscled pigmy whose face looked annoyingly familiar, but whose name I could not recall.  A little later, I almost choked on my lobster ravioli because I suddenly realized that the pigmy was a very famous action movie star.  Seen from a few feet away, however, this silver screen superman projected all the menacing authority of a bipedal hamster on a high protein diet.   After that sighting I never could watch the guy's movies again without laughing...

A few months after that restaurant encounter, I had a similar experience when I went to hear the English Concert under Trevor Pinnock playing at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena.  What I heard from my seat just a few rows from the stage was not the towering, muscled, athletic, edgy sonic presence of the period instrument band I knew from numerous Arkhiv Produktion CDs.  Instead I heard a few thin-textured, bass-shy tuttis separated by long stretches of nearly inaudible, barely pitched buzzing.  After that I never could listen to a period instruments ensemble again without laughing.  Which is exactly what I did at another concert where the heavily perspiring soloist, Monica Huggett, tried to scrape her way through the ascending melodic line with which the violin makes its entrance in the Beethoven concerto.  I had to leave the concert hall in disgrace, with third degree burns left on my back by the fiery stares of numerous HIP devotees in the audience.

I mentioned the above autobiographical trivia because that's what I had on my mind recently while I was listening to the beefy, muscular, lithe textures of the period instrument ensemble (Akademie für alte Musik Berlin) accompanying Jean-Guihen Queyras's superlative readings of Vivaldi's cello concertos (recorded live at the Concertgebouw on October 30, 2011).  I did not believe for a second that this kind of orchestral sound projected much further than the (very closely placed) recording microphones.  Not that it mattered much to me, since the music itself easily gets on my nerves.  I am just not the kind of guy who holds his breath when listening to endlessly repeated  arpeggiated chords, which is what Vivaldi's concertos offer as (or rather in place of) thematic elaboration.   But listen I did, and more than once, because I find Queyras' musical intelligence and instrumental craft simply irresistible no matter what music he plays.  If this musician could keep my attention through several numbingly predictable Vivaldi concertos, he probably would make me faint with a live recording of something more interesting, say Pintscher's Reflections on Narcissus or Holliger's Romancendres.