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M. Keiser

I didnt really like arcana either, it didnt seem to say much... its fine for a while and then it just got boring. But the Stravinsky and Prokofiev are both quality works, though its understandable how they wouldnt appeal, they certainly arnt my favorite either (try instead- Orpheus, Apollo, Agon, and the charming violin concerto). But, as you know, im in the stravinsky camp...

Richard Friedman

That's too bad that Arcana is not for you. Because it is high on my list. I first heard it in the late 1950's. Luckily I grew up in range to have access to the golden years of classical music on the radio in New York City. Bernstein performed it with the NY Phil.

Arcana is a wonderful piece. But you have to put it in the context of when it was written. Today many of the sounds Varese used in that piece are common in film music. This is quite amazing stuff for 1927!

But by then Varese was living in NYC, and one could say that the sounds and energy of the city found their way into the piece.

Varese also attached a quotation from Paracelsus to the score, that begins: "One star exists, higher than all the rest. This is the apocalyptic star..."

That always impressed me. I don't quite know why, but he may have been the first to address a piece of music to Paracelsus.

In '66 I bought the score before attending a concert performance. The work has always been one I keep close to me.

It's supposed to be 16 minutes long. At least that's what the score says. I have a number of recordings. I don't know which I like best. For one thing, no recording comes close to a really good live performance. There are a couple of Boulez recordings which are probably the best so far.

But don't pass over this work too quickly. I'd hasten to put it on my "masterpiece" list.

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