mlr: (lookup)
CDs I purchased, played repeatedly, and enjoyed in the past few months: D.J. Sprinkles, Takemitsu film scores, Cole Porter sung by everyone who was anyone in 1991 & Boulez (handily there, all in one box, with the resplendent early recording of marteau).

Christmas card. Some years I steal a few hours from work and create one of these with Lilypond. I don't mail them out or anything - just pass them out by hand.
Ennis & Jack Twist. Once more, and again. But this time in 12-tone harmony.

Wish I could see it.

These are the CDs I acquired in 2013 that I liked the best and listened to the most: Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories and For Samuel Beckett,
Nick Edwards - Plekzationz, Lusine's A Certain Distance, and Wolfgang Rihm's Jagden und Formen.

Morton Feldman was a composer that I'm afraid I used to dismiss. How foolish was that.

The Nick Edwards CD is obscure. I picked it up at Wall of Sound in Seattle.

I discovered Lusine using Shazam, since then I've downloaded or bought most of his CDs. A Certain Distance is my favorite. There is very little pop/techno/electronica I can listen to more than once or twice. Lusine has become a large exception to that.

I wish I had more time! to explore electronic music for myself.

...the road was denied me by a curse that made me stray...
Doch ach! den Weg des Heiles nie zu finden, in pfadlosen Irren trieb ein wilder Fluch mich umher.

Last May, [ profile] muckefuck surprised me with a text message enquiring if I was coming to Bear Pride. I had flight reservations but wasn't sure my annual trip was possible this year. I did express a desire to visit Chicago sometime during the Lyric Opera's season, inspired partly by his regular opera reviews. Later this fall, it was slim pickings when I was scrambling at the last minute to find some remnant of the Wagner bicentennial. Only two events left - both new productions of Parsifal, one in London, one in Chicago. So I opted for Chicago and made some reservations.

And surprisingly it all came about and we went to the opera together. It was a pleasure to be in [ profile] muckefuck's affable company, to be in his civilized home, to meet the warm & thoughtful people in his life, and to ramble around on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

About the Parsifal production, I can only say how much it moved me. The staging was a little too eclectic for my taste, but it played its part to set afloat the Medieval tale with its most sublime music.

A flickr set from the weekend.

2 bullets

Nov. 15th, 2012 09:18 am
  • For the past 12 years or so, I've usually played a solo organ recital in the Spring. I haven't posted info about them on here before - I'm usually too busy before the date to post, and it seems completely moot afterward. This past Sunday I played another recital, but it diverged from my usual pattern a bit. I played with two ensembles gathered together just for the recital. I started with a solo piece, Bruhns' Praeludium in G. That was followed by Brahms' Lass dich nur nichts nicht dauren, sung by a choir which I accompanied. Then I concluded with Hindemith's Kammermusik Nr. 7. The Hindemith is a wonderful & exciting score. But I'm afraid it's rarely played. It was expensive to rent the parts & hire the musicians. But I think it was worth it. Things went well and the event was a success. Here's a youtube link to a recording of the piece by an Amsterdam group.
  • I just made the penultimate payment on my mortgage. (I bought the house, my first, 9 years ago.)
This past weekend at the Modern museum shop, Israel spotted this turquoise pillow printed with the Queen's image from an old 81 pence stamp.

A few weeks ago, when the Google Doodle became a very cool, very interactive doodle version of the mini Moog, I had an impulse to hear some of the old music. I found a 'Switched-On' box set on Amazon. Listening to it on and off in the past two weeks was nostalgic. My Bach consciousness has come a long way, but these old arrangements still bring a smile.
How to jump back in?

I was busier than usual this spring - I continued to read LJ, but somehow couldn't find even a few minutes to post. When I got home - usually two hours before bedtime - I spent the time cooking, reading, & watching TV.

Some catch-up:

My GWT project at work is still all-consuming. I'm still working solo on the project. It is still exciting. On most days within 30 minutes I'm zoned-in: code, imagination, and fingers locked in sync together, moving fast as possible. The application has an elegant look and functionality. I'm sure there are a few other web-apps like this but I don't know of any myself. Around the first of April, I showed the project to the boss. He was estatic. The last thing he said: "You know this will have to work on the iPad." By 5:00 that afternoon I was able to walk into his office with an iPad and say: "Now it does".

In January I decided that I was going to take the playing portion of the A.G.O. Fellowship certification this year. I stuck to my plan & took the playing exam this past Saturday in Dallas. The organ was a splendid instrument installed in 2004. In my 3 hour practice session on Friday afternoon, I was constantly interrupted. Despite this I think I did well - at least on the major parts. I don’t think I could have performed the repertoire any better. The improvisation went well too. I will find out in six weeks. If I do pass this portion, I will have 5 years in which to pass the written half of the exam.

At my second job (the organ position), a new head of staff was finally selected to replace Jeff. What I could gather from Google, he had a long record of being very conservative, and I think I had just cause to worry about my relationship with him. About the same age as [ profile] dewittar, he knows what needs to be done and how to do it, and - thus far - things have been good. So I think I will leave it at that for now.

I’m dumping all the income I can into paying off my house mortgage. At the moment the balance is 13.5K. I think I will have it paid off before the end of the year!

The only travel I did this spring was a weekend with Israel in Santa Fe, and a weekend trip to San Francisco. I was delighted to meet [ profile] notdefined and to play for a couple of hours on his Hauptwerk organ-in-progress. (In case you aren’t following, he’s building an organ in his house using the Hauptwerk program & downloads - which provides many different digitally sampled pipe organs as a sound source.)

Two handsome guys: [ profile] notdefined & Morgan:

A couple of iPad vids I shot at the end of my practice on the Dallas organ:

A couple of friends of Scott's called in the past few weeks, notifying him that some of his photographs were hanging in a current show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He had no idea! This series of hands was done in the mid 60s. There are something like 40 or 50 in the original installation. The hands were reproduced in a fine art publication for the Fluxus Group. He made a special print for me of John Cage's hand from this series several years ago. And he gave me another this fall of a gay artist he thought I would be attracted to: Ray Johnson.

Scott took off on a cross country road trip to his hometown of Portland, Oregon today. His sister had a stroke. He insisted (after I mentioned it three times) that he wanted to drive and not fly. I went by his house last night to see if he needed anything. We listened to several tracks from a Gerry Mulligan CD. My favorite was a recording of Lost in the Stars - a very cool duet between Gerry's bari and a trombone with very light rhythm - only bass and brushes. A perfect anthem for cold December! Here the stars are crystal clear. Scott is still my model for how to be at eighty-five.

more images... )
I kind of like my quickie piano prelude from yesterday...


I think I'm going to try to hear Pollini play Opus 42 with the BSO in March. I just bought a plane ticket.


Tomorrow we have a brass ensemble - yeah.
I always love a brass choir, but especially at this time of year.
chaplin webern

It is curious how the internet has given our subconscious a new tool.

The last thing I watched before I fell asleep was an interview with Liza Minelli. One thing she said: the female dancer that she admired most was Cyd Charisse.

When I woke up at 4:21, I went straight to the laptop. After a game of Scrabble, I surfed around, unconsciously starting with 'Cyd Charisse' - who was from Amarillo - and found myself on a page about Carolyn Jones, the actress who created the sublime Morticia Addams. Ms. Jones also grew up in Amarillo - surprisingly two blocks from my house, on Hayden Street.

I snapped a pic on my way to practice.

I played a piece by Antalffy-Zsiross this morning - something I've played before in Advent. As far as I can tell, he is an obscure figure - almost unknown. I came across a volume of his music in a dusty sale bin one day. I bought it based on the portrait inside - he looked like such an intelligent & interesting man. His music is refreshing - it reminds me of Gershwin & Respighi. Colorful & optimistic - never heavy or distasteful.

CDs lately

Dec. 6th, 2010 11:50 pm

The past few weeks I've been listening to Anouar Brahem, and to a couple of discs of the Orchestre des Champs Elysées.

Brahem had been on my Amazon wish list for several years, but I didn't know much about him. These discs have a certain minimal aspect (but not quite the American/Estonian trance aesthetic). The sound of the oud, a very ethnic clarinet, and the dry, crisp Arabic drums is very appealing to me. The makeup of his ensemble has shifted to a slightly more European constitution over the past ten years.

The Herreweghe recordings of these two monuments of Western music are very fine. (The $8 download of the Mass in B minor is a steal.) I heard this group live recently and their sound is amazing - softer and more intense than a modern instrument orchestra. Instead of pumping up the emotional volume, which so often distorts the architecture of these pieces, Herreweghe applies an elegant restraint.

I was asked to accompany the regional H.S. choir - I guess because of a large organ part on one of the pieces. The concert was tonight and the rehearsal was all day long. I took a hotel room in the college town where it was held so I could have a place to relax. Everyone seemed to be happy with the way it went. There was a brass ensemble that joined the organ on the Rutter Gloria. Even though it is an effective piece, I've never been too fond of it. It seems three parts Bernstein, one part Firebird, plus one part come-what-may. The piece I liked the most was one of the a cappella pieces, Bruckner's Os justi. It sounded so lush and glorious with the hundred plus voices.

The piece I enjoyed accompanying the most was Morten Lauridsen's Sure on this shining night. I was surprised I enjoyed it, because when I got the music I found the score a little appalling: a 5 minute tonal piece that never leaves it's principal key, not even one borrowed leading-tone. I thought the choice of text, James Agee's lovely lyric Sure on this shining night, a little too anachronistic for the 21st century. But when I was playing it tonight, and listening to the warm voices of these young people on the verge of adulthood, I was overcome with nostalgia. I glanced over the boys, some of whom were already handsome men, some still boys, to find the one who reminded me of myself at that age. And I found him, and the sight of him was startling & heartbreaking.

Mahler 5

Sep. 18th, 2010 11:23 pm

Went to the Amarillo Symphony's performance tonight of Mahler 5. The performance was very, very good. I hadn't listened to the Fifth in a long time - it's so amazing.



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