Saturday, February 26, 2011



February 19, 2011
Suite in d BWV 812 - JS Bach - Blandine Verlet

Entrances burst in. The phraseology is not based on classically balanced thesis - antithesis, but on an image of flowering cumulus. Ms Verlet plays with an elegant inegalite, especially in the Sarabande.

Sonata in f-sharp op. 11 - Schumann - Peter Frankl

A study in quickly doubled modulation, coupled with Schumann's signature fragmentation through repetition.

3 Little Orchestra Pieces - Schoenberg - CBC SO/Robert Craft

Why is it so difficult to find recordings of these fabulous little pieces on-line? Has anybody recorded these since Craft did?

St. Louis Blues - W. C. Handy - Bessie Smith/Louis Armstrong

February 21, 2011
Symphony in g op. 42 - Albert Roussel - Orchestre National de France/Charles Dutoit

Throughout, a whiff of danse macabre.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home - Roy Harris - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz

February 22, 2011
The Incredible Flutist Suite - Walter Piston - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz

February 23, 2011
Metamorphosen - Strauss - New Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer


February 20, 2011
1977 Theme Night at The Comet - Seattle

The Downstrokes
The Blue Ribbon Boys
High Class Wreckage
Hollywood 77

The first three bands are local, the fourth visits from Hollywood. Bands 1, 2, and 4 more than ably hook into the New York sound legacy of The Ramones, offering non-stop doublefast doubleloud dance music, The Downstrokes showing their hometown roots with an occasional dollop of a lick from the Ventures. I've been a Ramones fan since Neal turned me on to them in, of all places, a music theory class at the UW back in 1981 or so. It was good to hear this music played so well, and to hear all these young people having so much fun with it.

But the reason Karen & I went to the show was to hear High Class Wreckage provide the local-historical context for punk and to make a case for its present and future. The relevant root music for HCW, a trio of bass, guitar, & drums, isn't The Ramones of 1977, but the legendary 1960s Puget Sound band The Sonics, who could lay a pretty valid claim for having invented punk rock. HCW has that louder faster Seattle beat and then some, playing with an abandon that catapults them off the stage. This is music for which the moshpit is the band's safety cushion, keeping them near, if not on the stage, finding mis-flung microphones, and generally looking out for the general safety. This music wasn't a Big Apple import. It's from here. And it's still here, very much alive in all its livid brilliance.

Saturday, February 19, 2011



Young Americans - David Bowie

Especially on the first side, the song-ness of these songs are subsumed in the engineering of the ultra-sophisticated arrangements. Of course, that's the point.

Sonata 1980 - Keith Eisenbrey
Pastorale 850113A - Keith Eisenbrey - The Fehrwood Ensemble

Banned Rehearsal #209 - Banned Rehearsal

This recording was made in 1990, at a time when the active band was Karen, Aaron, and myself. Neal and Anna were in California, and the kids had not yet arrived. The sessions from this time are occasionally haphazard, low-energy affairs veering into a giggly cleverness. This session, however, is tight as tight for a full 40 minutes. It withers just a bit but then settles into a nicely drummy groove to the end.

grey angel - Christopher DeLaurenti - Michael Nicolella

Bathyspheric and supraspheric at once.

The Abyss - Keith Eisenbrey

recorded "live" at a performance in 2006 at our church.

Extracts 7 - Keith Eisenbrey

A thin set with holes. Artifacts: the residue of intention - interesting because I read into them my ideas about my intention in making them, and also discover in listening to them an image of their own intention.


Gradus 187 - Neal Meyer

The Threepenny Opera - Kurt Weill - Bertolt Brecht - English adaption by Marc Blitzstein, directed by Stephanie Shine
The Seattle Shakespeare Company at Intiman Theatre, Seattle

A far more interesting piece than pleasing. For three acts we are berated bluntly and harshly with a disillusioning moral Realpolitik, propounded by demons. There is little here by which we can redeem our humanity, except the occasional deeply anxious pause of an actor as he lets the sound of marching fascists pass in the street. The play itself is a reworking of Don Giovanni twisted upside down. We watch a charismatic male lead, accustomed to being above the law, as he repeatedly fails, losing his grip at the hands of three female revenge seekers, only to be snatched away at the gallows. But rather than being pulled into hell by demons he is plucked into a Victorian materialist's heaven.

Saturday, February 12, 2011



I took the week off from listening to recorded music in order to devote that time to work with Karen on a new song that Benjamin Boretz sent to us. We were under a deadline to get a recording to him by next week. This was a significant musical challenge for both of us, but I believe we were modestly successful. More concerning this project anon.


Composer Spotlight at Jack Straw Foundation, Seattle

The Nature (of) Sounds in the StormSound Cycle - S. Eric (Steve) Scribner

I have known Steve for a couple of years now and have grown to admire his tirelessness in getting people together to perpetrate music. He performs all over the area, but never grandstands. As present as he is in the Seattle new music scene, it's never about him, it's always about what he's up to.

To introduce himself, Steve sat with his back to the audience, faced an unassuming array of small percussion and, without speaking, spoke in music. After a few lovely minutes he stood and, speaking, demonstrated how difficult it is to explain what probably can not be, exactly, explained. Although I found myself quibbling with the concepts he propounded, I soon realized that what he is attempting to do in music is to mirror a view of the cosmos that has never yielded easily to verbal formulation: that particular view in which the clearest expression is the paradox, and in which there are no useful concepts that aren't bald oxymora - in short, the stance of faith. Despite my quibbles, that is a position I must and do most heartily support.

And of course this standpoint can no more easily be successfully mirrored in musical terms than in verbal. But the attempt is heroic, and at 9+ hours the scale upon which he is attempting it is monumental. The artifacts of Steve's musical quest are full with a broad and moving poignancy. In so fully striving, where success is categorically unobtainable, the particulars of failure form an aesthetic image of intimate clarity.

Saturday, February 5, 2011



Violin Concerto - Roger Sessions - Orchestre Philharmonique de l'Office de la Radio diffusion-Television Francais/Gunther Schuller/Paul Zukofsky

Robustly lyrical counterpoint.

Tango - Stravinsky - Noel Lee

tight as tight can make it

Mean To Me - Dizzy Gillespie & Orchestra/Sarah Vaughan

chromatically adept - a perfect picture of transparent subtlety.

Symphony #4 - Walter Piston - Seattle SO/Gerard Scwharz

The back ends of these movements sink down into some very interesting holes.

The Sun Sessions - Elvis Presley

Perfidia - The Ventures
Love Is Strange (album) - Mickey & Sylvia

It is difficult to imagine a modern engineer allowing such a completely integrated sound, where every sound bleeds into every other. This pair was complete dynamite. The songs as songs vary in quality but the chemistry makes it impossible to really dislike anything about it.

Japan - Stockhausen


The Barber of Seville - Rossini - Seattle Opera/Dean Williamson - at McCaw Hall, Seattle

A wee bit of disclosure: Dean and I were high-school classmates, and used to play piano duets together (I remember mostly Ravel & Brahms). Since he is a foot or more taller than I am it was quite a sight.

A light farce, amazingly enjoyable after all these years. I had forgotten how few women's voices there are in the show. It portrays a society of men, in which women must scheme like the dickens to get what they want. This subversion is shared with Le Nozze de Figaro, although that story has subversion to spare.

Gradus 186 - Neal Meyer