December 26, 2013

The Emperor's old recordings

Recently I had to do several hours worth of mind-numbing paperwork.  I didn't want to do it in complete silence, but neither did I want to play music interesting enough to undermine my resolve to get through the necessary drudgery.  Which is why I settled on Bruckner.  I figured Buckner's stupefying repetitiveness would relieve my angst by proving that music can be as boring as the work I had to do.  And since all but two Bruckner recordings in my collection are conducted by Furtwangler, I ended up listening to Furtwangler's take on  five Bruckner symphonies.

November 11, 2013

Time flies...

Last Tuesday was the first anniversary of Elliott Carter's death.  Yesterday I came across a live broadcast recording of this:

January 13, 2013
Le Poisson Rouge, New York City

Con Leggerezza Pensosa
Figment for solo cello
Tempo e Tempi
Duettino for violin and cello
Gra for solo clarinet
Fantasy for solo violin
Quintet for Piano and String Quartet

Charlie Neidich, clarinet; Rolf Schulte, violin; Fred Sherry, cello; Tony Arnold, soprano; Steve Taylor, oboe; Ursula Oppens, piano;
Ensemble LPR (Harumi Rhodes, violin; Clara Lee, violin; Mark Holloway, viola; Mihai Marica, cello; Michael Nicolas, conductor)

October 27, 2013

Those sadistic perverts at BBC Radio 3...

From the program description of a recent BBC Radio 3 broadcast:
Louise Fryer explores Bruckner, the man behind the music...

Now, I have a pretty good idea of what exploring music is about.  But when it comes to exploring "the man behind the music", the only thing that comes to mind is this:

October 24, 2013

Short but sweet...

Carter's 7-min long String Trio was one of several chamber works completed in 2011, about a year before he died.  Although it was premiered in December 2011 by Rolf Schulte, Fred Sherry, and Richard O'Neill  at the 92nd Street Y concert celebrating Carter's 103rd birthday, I have not come across a recording of that premiere performance.  The present live recording from the 2013 REMUSIC Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia (performed by members of eNsemble Pro-Arte Fund) was my first chance to get acquainted with this little gem. 

September 17, 2013

Bulgakov would have loved this!!!


 World Briefing | Europe

 September 16, 2013

Russia: Shooting in Philosophical Clash

An argument over the teachings of the philosopher Immanuel Kant between two men standing in line for beer at an outdoor festival in southern Russia ended when one man shot the other in the head with gun loaded with rubber bullets, the state RIA news agency reported on Monday, citing the police. Though the wound was not critical, the attacker faces up to a decade in prison if convicted on assault charges. Among educated Russians, including those who drink, classical literature and philosophy are sometimes debated in casual social settings, the way sports often are in Western countries.

September 12, 2013

Better late than never...

The 1952 Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord has never been among my favorite Carter pieces.  Still, after having spent many years with a hideously balanced studio recording of this sonata (a technical embarrassment for the otherwise very competent Nonesuch label), it was thrilling to hear it for the first time in an excellently engineered live recording.
     The performance was given by members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (except the harpsichordist) on September 10, 2013 at the Concertgebouw (Kleine Zaal).  The musicians were Fred Edelen (cello), Julie Moulin (flute), Miriam Pastor Burgos (oboe), and Christina Scott Edelen (harpsichord).

July 26, 2013

Gone but not forgotten...

The gravestone is less than modest, but then Mozart did not get even this much...  And what does it matter anyway?  If I were a composer, I would rather have people go to concert halls where my music is played than to the cemetery where my corpse is buried.

Which is how Elliott Carter was remembered on June 22, 2013 at the Aldeburgh Festival, where two well-known champions of his music - Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Oliver Knussen, supported by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group - performed Carter's Dialogues and Dialogues IIThis performance was recorded live by the BBC and was made available for a while as a high quality (320 kbs) webstream.

At about the same time I also came across my second live recording of Carter's Triple Duo, performed by the Belgian group Ensemble Linea on September 27, 2012 in Strasbourg.  One especially attractive feature of this close-balanced but atmospheric recording is its sharply defined spatial separation of the three instrumental groups.

June 4, 2013

There is help for you too!

Recently there have been many reports in the media about the rapidly increasing number of school-age children diagnosed with ADHD.  But what about today's adults?  What about those of us who grew up at a time when a kid would not be considered psychologically abnormal unless he was found standing in his parents' bedroom with a smoking shotgun in his hands, staring at two bloodied corpses on the queen-size bed?  How many of us might have benefited from an early ADHD diagnosis, so that we would not have had to struggle through life as knuckleheads, dimwits, morons, or - in the words of loving but exasperated teachers - just plain fucking retards?

If you experience such pangs of regret from time to time and wish you could find out if you really suffer from this disorder, there is help for you too!  Below you will find a short yet remarkably accurate self-diagnostic test designed specifically for adults.

May 31, 2013

Don Giovanni's blog stats...

Stats  ›  Audience

Pageviews   by   Countries


 Italia                                                                   640

 Alemagna                                                           231

 Francia                                                               100

 Turchia                                                               91

    Ispagna                                                              1003

May 23, 2013

Modern dentistry at its best...

Recently I complained to my dentist that my teeth have become sensitive to cold.
He said I should consider moving to Florida...

May 3, 2013

Psychopathology in the score

Imagine a situation in which I observe the suffering of an innocent human being.  Imagine also that, while I'm at it, there is a dreamy smile on my face, my eyelids are half closed, my lips are slightly parted, my fingers gently caress the armrests of my chair, and my breathing becomes progressively heavier and more rapid.  I think it would be perfectly reasonable for you to infer that the emotional (mental) states behind my behavioral responses are those of a full-fledged psychopath whose neural circuitry for empathy is either badly miswired or entirely missing.

April 9, 2013

Never too busy for this...

A few more live recordings of Carter's music came my way, and I thought I should not delay adding them to the blog.

March 29, 2013

A Good Friday indeed...

Any day of the week on which I would come across my first live recording of a favorite piece by Elliott Carter would be a good day.  It just happened to be this Friday, so I am happy to think of this day as my "Good Friday".
     The piece in question is Triple Duo, performed by the Doelen Ensemble on Dec. 4, 2008 at the Muziekgebouw aan't IJ in Amsterdam.  Although the old studio recording by the Fires of London (on Nonesuch) is splendid in every respect, there is no substitute for hearing Carter's playful music in a superbly engineered live recording which captures face to face, real-time communication between musicians and their audience.

February 26, 2013


 In the real world, the average life expectancy of a woman is significantly greater than that of a man.  In the world of opera, by contrast, the average life expectancy of a lead female character is, to put it mildly, less than modest.  If she does not succumb to a fashionable disease in the prime of her life (La Traviata, La Boheme), she can look forward to being stabbed, strangled, or poisoned by a jealous lover (Carmen, Wozzeck), husband (Otello, Il Tabarro, I Pagliacci, Violanta), brother (La forza del destino), or rival (Rigoletto, Adriana Lecouvreur).  On those rare occasions when the plot does not provide any of the already listed sources of early death, the soprano is expected to do the dark deed herself (La Gioconda, Madama Butterfly) or at least die of a broken heart brought about by sexual exploitation and emotional abuse in the hands of various men in her life (Manon Lescaut, Der Ferne Klang, Die Gezeichneten).  Even in operas with nominally optimistic endings the soprano may still meet with premature (and violent) death, if only as part of some lurid fantasy in the mind of the male protagonist (Die tote Stadt).