August 31, 2011

Natural selection my ass!


I would think it takes very little mental RAM space to figure out that sidewalks in Manhattan get copious daily deposits of urine, feces, vomit, spit, garbage, soot, grime, and God knows what other unpleasant stuff from millions of people (residents, commuters, tourists), dogs, birds, rats and other members of the local fauna.  So when it rains hard enough to create bubbling streams of water running along the curb toward the nearest storm drain, even borderline retards among us should know that this is not the kind of water you want to make contact with your skin, let alone your face and/or genitalia.
      Any adult who does not know this is a living proof that something may be wrong with the concept of evolution by natural selection.  The genotype of the two happy twenty-somethings in the photo below - taken in Times Square shortly after the hurricane Irene passed through Manhattan - should have been "de-selected" long time ago because it produces such staggering stupidity at the phenotype level.

August 26, 2011

Three things I hate to see coming my way


#3:  Minor neurological damage is likely from prolonged exposure to the loud and obnoxious jingle played over and over again:

Mr Softee Ice Cream Truck




#2:  Moderate property damage is possible, including lost roof shingles, shattered window panes, and disappearance of unsecured outdoor furniture:   

Hurricane Irene




#1:  Catastrophic damage to one's aesthetic standards is nearly certain.  Shattered faith in the future of serious music is highly probable.  After-effects may last for months, and may include such typical signs of post-traumatic stress disorder as bouts of nausea, recurrent nightmares, and panic attacks:






August 25, 2011

Where to sit in the concert hall for a piano recital


1.  With pianists whose playing is extroverted, powerful, and strongly projected, I would sit toward the back of the hall:



2.  With pianists whose playing is introverted and highly nuanced, I would sit next to the stage:



3.  And then there is one pianist who recently proved that the best place in the hall may actually be under the piano itself:


August 22, 2011

Whaddayawant!?!?


Four times (on three different days) I tried to listen to my favorite piece by the German modernist composer Helmut Lachenmann.   And each time Lachenmann's otherworldly orchestral textures were shattered by incessant ear-piercing shrieks of a bluejay sitting on a tree next to my house.  Naturally I hated the bird for its anti-modernist heckling, but also for bringing back memories of an even more annoying creature I once encountered on a half-empty mid-afternoon train I was riding back into the city some years ago.

August 12, 2011

Schoenberg, Boulez, and the Schrödinger's cat

Arnold Schoenberg's grave

By now the story is old and tired: Soon after Schoenberg-the-man was buried Pierre Boulez proceeded to bury Schoenberg-the-composer in the infamously cold-blooded pseudo-obituary entitled Schoenberg is dead.  Temperamentally Boulez's unceremonious postmortem of Schoenberg's creative legacy was the work of a pathologically ambitious scoundrel, if not a borderline sociopath.  Intellectually it was an exercise in musicological triviality and ideologically motivated nonsense.

August 1, 2011

RICHARD WERNICK: String Quartet No.8


This must hurt.  An American composer writes music for half a century, receives many prestigious awards (including the Pulitzer Prize), holds an endowed professorship at an Ivy League university, and today, at the age of 77, he is ... nearly invisible in the music world.  It was only a couple of days ago that I came across my first live recording of Richard Wernick's music.  And I have been enthusiastically collecting live recordings of contemporary music for quite some time.  (Of course there are some commercial studio recordings of Wernick's music, but these recordings are poor indicators of the composer's visibility.  After all, the music of such archeological curiosities as Fasch and Locatelli had been commercially recorded too, but I probably have a better chance of bedding Scarlett Johansson than encountering a Fasch symphony or a Locatelli violin concerto in the concert hall.)

In any case, I think Wernick's atonal (but not athematic) String Quartet No.8 (2010) (performed by Daedalus Quartet at the 2011 Music Mountain Festival) is attractive, even if it never ventures far from the sound world of Schoenberg's String Trio and the last two quartets.  I simply happen to like the (admittedly old-fashioned) style of "atonal romanticism", so it matters little to me that Wernick's string quartet - like those of other "atonal romantics" Artur Schnabel, Leon Kirchner (one of Wernick's teachers), and Henri Lazarof, to mention some - is neither especially innovative nor particularly individual.