January 22, 2016

Caruso of West Hollywood


I.
Caruso was waiting for me at a small public park in Studio City not far from his girlfriend’s house.  Ex-girlfriend’s house, to be precise.  About an hour earlier she threw him out and took away his car keys because she owned the car he had been driving.  The finality of their separation was certified by the ugly bruise on the left side of Caruso’s face.  The bruise was still spreading like a lunar eclipse when he limped to my car from one of the picnic tables near the parking area.
     “Frying pan?” I asked after he planted himself in the passenger seat.
     “Magazine,” he said.
      I took another quick look at his purple cheekbone.  “Must have been Vogue.”
     “Didn’t notice,” he sighed, “but the damn thing was thicker than a surfboard.  I really didn’t expect it.  Marina was holding it with both hands, like she was about to open it and read something.  I was in the middle of a sentence when she just swung it with a two-handed grip and whacked me in the face.”
     “And the limp?”
     “Tripped on something in the hallway.  I was in a hurry.”

January 17, 2016

Fuck you too, Woody Allen!


The above image comes from a brief scene in Woody Allen's film Irrational Man (2015), where one of the principal characters gives a piano recital at a small college auditorium.
     Assuming Woody Allen had not become senile by the time he made this film, I can think of only one plausible explanation for what seems to be an embarrassing display of cultural illiteracy by one of America's distinguished filmmakers.  Allen simply liked this particular composition of the scene and decided that viewers who insist that the purpose of a raised piano lid is to project sound toward the audience can go fuck themselves.

January 15, 2016

January 8, 2016

The kids are alright


A superbly produced HD video of a 2015 concert performance of Elliott Carter's Clarinet Concerto (1996) by Moritz Roelcke and the young musicians of Orchester der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste conducted by the German-based American conductor Jonathan Stockhammer.  The highest 1080p video quality (choose by clicking on "HD" icon) comes with a 256 kbs AAC audio track which sounds vastly more realistic and natural than any of the currently available commercial studio recordings of this concerto.

Usually I find watching performances of serious music a total waste of a sensory modality, but in this case the visual experience enhances (if slightly) the theatrical aspect of Carter's musical design.  Throughout this concerto's seven short movements Carter pairs the soloist with different instrumental groups, and the soloist has to move around the stage (during brief orchestral interludes) to play each movement standing next to the designated instrumental group.