Saturday, February 2, 2013



January 31, 2013
Benaroya Hall, Seattle
Seattle Symphony Orchestra; Ludovic Morlot, conductor

Turangalîla Symphony - Olivier Messiaen
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano; Cynthia Millar, ondes Martenot

ondes Martenot
I have come to the music of Olivier Messiaen only recently, and this was the first time I had heard this massively ambitious work, behind which lurk the specters of Berlioz, Busoni, and Strauss. I do not expect to be able to grasp such a huge and clotted thing on first blush, and I have been interested over the last few days that though I found much to dislike about it I also found much to think about. I am guessing therefore, and hoping, that closer acquaintance with it may clarify for me the image of those aspects I initially find off-putting and recalibrate them into pieces of a larger design.

The first thing I wrote in my note-book was "super-accoutred". The lushness of the scoring is only occasionally remitted by exquisitely delicate duets and trios. Each line is stuffed to bursting with big "O" Orchestration. More became more and more less and less. The go-to destination was, juice it how you will with modernist spice, the big tune wallow of Rachmaninov and other such faux-Romantics. It was difficult to shake the suspicion that, like them, once he had burdened a musical idea with a personal meaning his faith was unshakeable that this personal meaning was from then on and for all time a permanent attribute of that musical idea. So that, instead of the development of a musical idea through chains and webs of association within a shifting dramatic context (as in Wagner, for instance), we hear musical ideas in succession, standing opaquely for some poetic idea in the composer's impenetrable head.

I think though that there is hope. Often the movements just stop. Similarly, entrances are abrupt. Progression is static. These features I find deeply intriguing. They hint at a peculiar structural rhetoric akin to that of murals or collage. I look forward to hearing this piece again, and I am ever so glad that my first listening was to this excellent live performance.

But I would like to vent about performers talking and talking and talking and talking before the performance. My 'd'rothers would be for no talk at all, or at most a sentence or two. But this went on and on, with musical examples (spoilers), and egregious gushing about personalities. Please! A short demonstration of the ondes Martenot would have sufficed, but this lecture was so long there had to be an intermission before the performance. If I had been warned I would have stayed in the lobby until after the break. Pre-concert lectures, if you must do them, should be PRE concert.


January 29, 2013
Banned Rehearsal 689 - (September 2005, Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Neal Meyer)

Opens with a thumping gradually gelling into the onning and offing of the big Wurlitzer. thump thump on off, A sawtoothy feedback wanders about the room.

January 30, 2013
Alive Against Better Wishes - Smokestack and the Foothill Fury

Karen & I caught Smokey's remarkable one-man-blues-band at the Shanty Tavern in March of 2010, just a few months after this album was recorded down at the opposite corner of the country. I have always been dumbfounded at the ability of fine blues guitarists, Robert Johnson comes to mind, who seem to play in several inter-malleable tempos at once. Smokey takes it up a few notches by not only doing that but also playing his own bass and drums. Well I don't think he's actually playing a bass, at least I don't remember that, but it sure sounds like a distinct bass part down there. When you get tired of well-scrubbed and slick, this is for you.

Prelude in D Major - Sylvius Leopold Weiss - Lutz Kirchhof

Hangs it out and sticks with it.

Guru - Allen Ginsberg - with Ralph Carney, Marc Bingham, Bill Frisell, and Marc Ribot

Prelude and a few chosen words.

In Session at The Tintinabulary

January 28, 2013
Gradus 220 - Neal Meyer


Friday February 22, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Banned Rehearsal at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Our first live performance since January of 1997. That was  #440. This will be #831.

Saturday May 4, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey and Neal Meyer at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Music for solo piano:
Eisenbrey: Welcome to my planet. I come in peace.
Meyer: Cage - Solo for Piano

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