The piece is athletic, unusual, and playful as it uses the piano lid,
sides, and strings as percussion instruments of their own. The "north
country" referred to in the title is the state of Vermont, the
composer's home for the past many years.
Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" observation about relationships and sharks — that both must either move forward or die — also works for culture. In classical music, lots of people really just want the dead shark.
They pine for the days when Bernstein, Reiner, Szell and Toscanini
stood on the podium, with Heifetz fiddling, Horowitz at the piano and
Callas and Tebaldi locked in a perpetual diva war. Most of all they
want their repertory dials set between 1785 and 1920.
You can send those people your condolences.
On the other hand, after eighteen years of shopping for classical music at Tower Records in the Bay Area, I might conclude the outlook is more bleak. The Castro/Market, San Mateo and Campbell stores have shrunk their classical sections so much they aren't worth the trouble. The fine Berkeley Tower Classical closed, they moved classical to the second floor of the main Berkeley store, and then that store closed. Fortunately, Mountain View has shrunk less and Tower Classical on Columbus in SF is still reasonably well stocked. (And the SF Amoeba classical section was recently reorganized but on first inspection, is not measurably smaller. Whew.)
And the overall competition for my musical mindshare continues to amaze me. While last year's biggest musical event was the premiere of Doctor Atomic (and before that, Oakland Opera's Akhnaten), this year's biggest musical happening so far is Austin's South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, and in particular, the concurrent bittorrent -- 700+ downloadable free MP3s of surprising quality. I knew a few of the artists e.g. The Stills, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Christopher O'Riley (playing Paranoid Android), but although I'm only two hundred tracks into it, I have been turned on to Birdy Nam Nam (French DJ turntablists), Morningwood, Sarah Hepburn, Tunng, Whitehouse, etc. In my fantasy world, hundreds of hip classical artists and composers would converge on some town for an equivalent frenzy of classical music played in clubs and other atypical venues. Call it SXSQ.
Today honors, among others, the five Gable brothers. In World War II, three served in the armed forces and returned, one stayed behind to take care of the Indiana family farm, and one served and didn't return. May they and their parents rest in peace.
Before I return to the Carter concertos, I'm grinding through my relatively small collection of concerto MP3s. Vivaldi good, the Brandenburgs of course good, Mozart played by Isabelle Van Keulen surprisingly good, Hovhaness and Glass prolific but maybe good...
Classical Net on Hovhaness' Lousadzak: ...individual sections of the orchestra are
instructed to continuously repeat a cycle of melody without temporal
reference to other members of the ensemble. Most obviously, this technique
(one of the most common components of the "Hovhaness style"), creates a
gorgeous sense of rhythmic mystery from which (in "Lousadzak") the solo
piano slowly emerges... at other times, the technique clearly foreshadows
the work not just of modern minimalists such as Terry Riley and John Adams but
also the entire Ambient/New Age school of composition...
Just watched Captain Beefheart: Under Review, a DVD documentary of the music of Don Van Vliet and his bands. Notes:
The guy was an artist who expressed himself through music (and who ultimately gave up on the music business to turn to the potentially more receptive avant-garde art world).
He was really remaking the natural, bluesy world in his own, gnarly image.
The footage of elder bluesman Howlin' Wolf was invigorating.
The DVD had hokey staging for each of the interviews but it didn't detract from the story.
An underlying theme throughout was a sense of mild disappointment in the face of creativity, both in the resultant music as well as the lack of popular success.
Similar to Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, the Magic Band varied in both membership and quality over time.
Captain Beefheart turned down the opportunity to play at Woodstock.
As we know, the theremin was used in music by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, Edgard Varèse, and Captain Beefheart, although for the latter, the band tried to get a buzz saw effect before turning to the theremin.
It totally surprises me, because I never went to
opera, not even when I was in college," he said. "I basically don't go.
I don't like most of the way it is presented or the way it is sung, and
I don't like most of the operatic repertoire.
Via serenadeingreen, Paul Reale tears apart the Pulitzer Prize winners in music including Quincy Porter's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra:
Another dated noisemaker from Sears.
Other concertos on the hit list include John LaMontaine's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Roger Sessions' Concerto for Orchestra, Mel Powell's "Duplicates": A Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Christopher Rouse's Trombone Concerto, Melinda Wagner's Concerto for Flute, Strings, and Percussion, Steven Stucky's Second Concerto for Orchestra, and Yehudi Wyner's Piano Concerto, "Chiavi in Mano."
Amidst the carnage, he is kind to Barber's Piano Concerto:
This concerto in one of the pillars of American repertoire and has actually made it out of the Pulitzer bin into the concert hall.
Kyle Gann on John Luther Adams' The Place Where You Go to Listen:
He worked out just the effects he wanted on some other software, and
then hired a young Max-programming genius, Jim Altieri, to replicate
it. He envisioned the sound, the effect, the affect, but he knew he
didn’t possess the genius to create the instrument he needed.
By the way, I like the conceptual art of Sol Lewitt.
the place where you go to listen: article on the museum installation. kyle gann. liner notes by howard klein (pdf) mentioning how the music of zappa led adams to the avant-garde of varèse, cowell etc. and eventually to tenney and feldman.
Before I revisit my response to the Carter Piano and Violin Concertos, I feel the need to calibrate my general reaction to concertos. So, I've been listening to various works -- a couple of Haydn violin concertos, Ellen Taafe Zwilich's Piano Concerto, some random Vivaldi, and just now, Peter Lieberson's Piano Concerto. After listening to Lieberson's, I'll admit that during the second movement my attention wandered to my software configuration management crisis du jour. But the orchestra in the third movement was sufficiently colorful and fresh that I realize I want to go back and pay closer attention to Peter Serkin's playing to get the full experience.
With work being hectic and with separate visits by both sets of parents-in-law this week, I'm too busy to think of anything new to write (although I'm still pondering Steve Hicken's Carter concerto post). Instead, for the me-mememe, I'll recycle myself via my Internet permanent record:
I am quite impressed with the Wikipedia encyclopedia article on the Beastie Boys.
I am not not much for Charles Ives' use of popular song in his works.
I want to listen to my Terry Riley "happy" collection (or rather, my Terry Riley "hippie" collection).
I wish iTunes had predictive capability i.e. if you liked that, you'll like this.
I hate to say it but when did Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell become old and Chick Corea become, er, heavy-set?
I loveRothko Chapel and say, his sparse works for two pianos but don't care much for Coptic Light and am struggling right now with Patterns in a Chromatic Field (despite the new release on Tzadik with Aleck Karis).
(While) I miss album covers, I can live without the sound of the needle
as it gets accidentally bumped and scratches across the record.
I don't sing either, although I do quote Julia "I sing alto" Wolfe.
Nope, at least not for the blogging record.
I am not always
Apparently instead, I am consistent. In particular, I always thought Alan Ulrich's musical judgment was excellent so it was a treat to find his review in FT andI always wondered but David declared Peter is no relation.
I make with my hands...
I write about my response to music and commerce rather than about the music itself...
I (often) confuse the American Composers Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra.
And regarding recent Amoebablogging, I start in the new classical aisle, go to used classical, then jazz, electronica, world, DVD, and finally back to the classical bargain bins on the floor. I only occasionally browse the John Zorn section, though. I think it's an irrational fear of the Tzadik label.