Saturday, April 25, 2015



April 23, 2015
Nick Norton, John Teske, Nat Evans
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

New Forest - Nat Evans

We arrived about 20 minutes in, so the first experience was simply that of entering a room from which a particular color of quietness emanated. Upon this fabric was set, at long intervals, a couple of older jazz recordings. There was enough space between these that they didn't become the main focus, but operated as markers, cairns, a known place for our own calibration.

Does it help, or is it essential, to know certain facts about a music in order to perceive it most clearly? I had known a little going in: that it involved field recordings made on Nat's recent trek on the Pacific Coast Trail. In the notes it is disclosed that these particular recordings are from forest areas that had been clearcut in the '40s or '50s, and that the recordings are 78s inherited from Nat's grandfather, who studied forestry at about that time. This is all interesting from a journalistic perspective, but I remain skeptical that the knowledge of it improves the aesthetic experience.

For my part, the hardcore interaction between the presence of the forest sound as it fell into distance and the etched surface of the surfacing past of the 78s sound was the big hit. The rest is just part of what it took Nat to get there, it isn't the there. It is important to Nat's relation to his work, but not necessarily to ours.

Texture Sketch I - Nick Norton
Allison Fann, viola; Ivan Arteaga, alto saxophone; Nick Norton, guitar; Neil Welch, tenor saxophone; Peter Tracy, cello; John Teske, double bass

A skein that tightens as it rises.

All The Wrong Notes - Nick Norton
Cristina Valdes, piano

Two-fisted piano writing written, apparently, in order for there to be another piece of two-fisted piano music. Cristina was fabulous as always, but this one failed to convince.

topographies - John Teske
same personnel as in Texture Sketch I

I have been a map nut from a tender age, so this piece plugs into several of my nerd-nodes. In the observation of landforms we can surmise numerous processes and forces and materials at work. Maps are abstracts of the results, representations of several dimensions of data on a surface. Those abstractions are used as a stimulus to other forces, processes and personalities (with all their inscrutable complexities) in order to produce a sound which is itself an abstraction of all the underlying data and which, as it presents itself in time, comes across as nothing so much as landforms made audible.

It was a pleasure to hear these again.


April 18, 2015
Symphony #3 op. 27 "Sinfonia Espansiva" - Carl Nielsen - Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Yuri Ahronovitch

This is big drama music that doesn't behave like a stage drama. It is more high steel than Macbeth. Its parts don't fit together with specious inevitablity, but are set against each other and folded into each other curatorially. Each episode is enlivened inside itself rather than tensing us into looking where we are going. No matter where one listens in this music it is as though there were a ripple in the glass. Nothing can be heard straight.

Karol Szymanowski
Violin Concerto #1 - Karol Szymanowski - Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jan Krenz, Shizuka Ishikawa

As though Wagner's forest bird had wandered into the first scene of Pelleas and never recovered.

April 20, 2015
Symphony in B-flat (#2) - Albert Roussel - Orchestre National de France, Charles Dutoit

Begins by repeatedly breaking from darkness into darkness. It eventually bursts into energy, though it never escapes the morass.

Tapiola - Jean Sibelius - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Colin Davis

Threadbare, stained, faded. Worn utterly away in many places, in others preserved in sudden flashes from another realm. This fairy tale is less Disney, more Grimm.

Concerto in B-flat (#4) op. 53 - Serge Prokofiev - Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Antoni Wit, Kun Woo Paik

Punched, squeezed, and shoved into place. Build them, put them on a shelf. There they stay.

April 21, 2014
Symphony #4 -  Dmitri Shostakovich - Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Kiril Kondrashin

An immense quantity of individual rooms, voices speaking in layers of imperiled code. Not heartfelt because it can't be. Intricately speaking to its own inability to speak.

William Bergsma
April 22, 2014
Gold and The Señor Commandante Ballet Suite - William Bergsma - Eastman-Rochester Symphony Orchestra, Howard Hanson

One regret I have looking back on my years at the UW was that I never took any classes from William Bergsma. Here it is demonstrated that he composed the Jaws not safe in the water right now theme several decades before it wasn't safe in the water anymore. The wickedly fabulous Eastman-Rochester crew sound great here, engineered so that the dynamic contrasts take your breath away.

Symphony #2 - Roger Sessions - New York Philharmonic, Dimitri Mitropoulos

Muscular, taut, frenetic - all apropos of 1946.

String Quartet #1 - Elliott Carter - Julliard String Quartet

Pushing the extremes of voice/instrument integrity and contrapuntal independence, with a gut punch intensity.

Blueberry Hill - Fats Domino [collected from Dave Marsh's Heart of Rock and Soul]

Smooth and solid. Nothing stands out until the last drum bang.

Klavierstuck 10 - Karlheinz Stockhausen - Aloys Kontarsky

A discourse on our sense of quantity. Some aspects are clearly numerable. Others are clearly not.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

April 19, 2015
Duet 150419 - Keith Eisenbrey

I was on vacation this week so I was very busy. This first duet features my mom's nylon string guitar (Franciscan) and the contents of the big red bag of fun.

April 20, 2015
Gradus 264 - Neal Kosály-Meyer

If the piano keyboard represents a binary numbering system (played = 1, not played = 0), then each combination can be represented by a quantity. We could do math!

April 21, 2015
Duet 150421 - Keith Eisenbrey

This day's duet was with upright grand piano (1908 Kingsbury) in need of tuning, and snare drum (Gretsch).

April 22, 2015
Duet 150422 - Keith Eisenbrey

Viola and pendant pot lids.

April 23, 2015
Duet 150423 - Keith Eisenbrey

Acoustic guitar with pickup (Mitchell) through a Sunn amp, paired with a locally made wood-body drum (Sawatch).

Études d'exécution imminent - Keith Eisenbrey

This was my last composition before I went on a self-imposed sabbatical last Spring. I am fascinated with music that lives at the edge of its own beingness - pieces that are only just barely pieces, or perhaps aren't quite. I've been working them up for presentation next August, and took the opportunity afforded by my vacation to record them.

April 24, 2015
Duet 150424 - Keith Eisenbrey

Solid body electric guitar (Peavey) on long-term loan from my brother Paul, and bodhrán. I learned (while making sure I spelled that correctly) that the little wooden beater is called a 'tipper'. I turned the amp up pretty loud.

Saturday, April 18, 2015



April 12, 2015
Requiem - Liszt - Hungarian People's Army Chorus, Janos Ferencsik
trying to look like Horowitz

As severe and restrained a setting as one could wish for, resources reduced to the narrow particularities of men's voices, organ, timpani, and occasional brass. The highest tenor voice is to die for.

alternate movement II from Symphony in C minor - Brahms - Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Charles Mackerras

A bit more expansive in layout than the final version, with some variant contrapuntal details.

4 Ogives - Satie - Frank Glazer

These little piano pieces are not far removed, spiritually, from Liszt's Requiem, or perhaps more to the point, his Tenebrae, but with a conceptual wrinkle: They are each essentially identical to their fellows. The differences in detail between them are exactly and only those differences that make no difference.

Lieder und Gesänge - Mahler - (performers not known)

My indexing fell apart here. I think I dubbed this to cassette tape from a friend's CD - probably in the 90's sometime, but neglected to collect any information about the singer (female) and pianist. It may have been paired with Lieder einser fahrended Gesellen. I tried to figure out who it is by perusing discographies on line, but to no certain avail.

April 14, 2015
The Golden Spinning Wheel - Dvorak - London Symphony Orchestra, Istvan Kertesz

This piece is up near the top of list of favorite Dvorak pieces. Among other strengths it is easily the best animated Disney movie ever, like Snow White but with the pacing of Eisenstein.

Jeux d'eau - Ravel - Vlado Perlemuter
The Unanswered Question - Ives - New York Philharmonic - Leonard Bernstein

I'll take these two as a pair. They share an absolute dependence for their power on their names, or rather on the relation between their names and their affects. Each is as literal as the other. I began to think that an excellent rule-of-thumb for what classical music (in the marketing sense) is, is just that music in which the name of the piece has an essential relation to how we perceive the piece.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

April 12, 2015
Duet 150412 - Keith Eisenbrey

Slide whistle and acoustic steel-string guitar. I added some barn-silo reverb to the final in order to mitigate some unfortunate wind noise on the slide-whistle track.

April 13, 2015
Banned Telepath 32 150413 Seattle
Banned Telepath 32 150413 Somerville
Banned Rehearsal 883 150413 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Neal Kosály-Meyer (in Seattle); Aaron Keyt (in Somerville)

Saturday, April 11, 2015



April 5, 2015
Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 23 - Beethoven - Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy

The first movement is never quite comfortable anywhere. Its customary attitude is restlessness. The second movement is more circumscribed and polite. In the third movement the instruments share lingering moments.

April 6, 2015
Mazurka in f minor op. 7 #3 - Chopin - Vladimir Horowitz

When I was a teenager I remember that critics complained that Horowitz stretched rhythms and tempos past the breaking point, obscuring or completely transforming the meter of what he was playing. That may be true, but in his hands the practice allows a lively irrational sense of how parts might fit together. With the grid lines removed the centers of poetic mass find their place.

Symphony in d minor (original version) - Schumann - Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner

Capitalizing on how a single event can comprise multiple dynamic levels, multiple weights, hefts, girths, and extensions into time.

The dovetails between movements are not only a method of binding the piece together, but also operate as an explicit connection between their tonalities, i.e. "this last note has this tonal meaning in the preceding movement, and this other tonal meaning in the ensuing." What emerges from the end of an episode would not be what it is had it not exactly so emerged. In a way it reduces the articulation between movements into the same category as the articulation between inter-movement sections.

April 7, 2015
La Damnation de Faust - Berlioz - Orchestre de Concerts Lamoureux, Igor Markevitch

On the plus side, this recording is intensely raucous. That drunken chorus sounds genuinely drunk. Beer will be spewed and fists will fly. There may well be knives. On the minus, the engineer plants the soloists just a few feet from our faces. The whole comes across as though the singers, and possibly some of the more intimate instrumental ensembles, were amplified for performance. I can only imagine that Berlioz gauged the sizes of sounds pretty carefully and that juicing the mix is not really necessary. On the other hand the sense of such a complex sonic event may be simply impossible to capture.

April 8, 2015
Die Walküre Act III - Wagner - Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Karl Böhm

The fancy singing of the Walküre imitates the pianistic virtuosity of Liszt's dramatic sweeping runs. Brunnhilde is a party pooper. Wotan curses over-dramatically (for the benefit of her sisters). B: Can we just have a rational conversation about this? W punishes B by consigning her to a mortal state he desires for himself. In the end he flinches, consigninjg her to the status of fairytale princess, a halfway house to mortality.

The magic fire music bore an interesting relation to the benedictus ending of LDdF (see above). Both works, after cosmic bluster, end with a residue of holiness and bliss wafting into the flies.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

April 5, 2015
Duet 150405 - Keith Eisenbrey

Improvising on xylophone and glockenspiel. With a few special exceptions I've been taking a break from writing music down for about a year. I'm not sure I could articulate exactly why, but part of it is a desire to make noise on instruments that aren't the piano, and to discover trajectories that aren't systematic.

April 6, 2015
Gradus 263 - Neal Kosály-Meyer

Saturday, April 4, 2015



March 29, 2015
buttons, dollar each
Bicycle Face
Canals of Venice
Highway 99 Blues Club, Seattle

Bicycle Face is a personable trio performing a mostly acoustic set. They seemed almost alarmed to have microphones available. Their set started with a didactic-dramatic micro-musical - Pants - about the history of women wearing pants. I wish every museum display case could be that funny. A few props, minimal costumes (a hula hoop stands in for a hoop skirt), let's put on a show! The rest of the set consisted of songs like Hope the Gender Variant Chicken and a song about an Otter eating pancakes off its belly. Other than the up-to-date politics they would fit right in with Woody's Grow-Big Songs. Their EP is called Broken Umbrella - Karen and I were wondering if it was an alternate band name or (and) a reference to Gertrude Stein's "I have throwed my umbrella in the mud".

fun forest, Seattle Center, ca. 1972
Canals of Venice at long last performed their musical Martha Jane, a sordid femme fatale story with a Ferris wheel, a witch, a heart of gold, a rifle, and a beer. The characters, being (partly) part of the band, emerge from it as though in bas relief. It ends in a kind of hell-scape, giving the whole thing a trajectory not unlike Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique. The balance was terrific. Would that every show in every club could sound this good.


April 2, 2015
O dolorosa gioia - Gesualdo - Consort of Musicke, Anthony Rooley

Dark heavy draperies of counterpoint.

Konzert in B-flat Major BWV 1051 - Bach, Festival Strings Lucerne, Felix Baumgartner

Behind the affects are textures. Behind the textures are lines. Behind the lines are notes. From within each texture's line's notes patterns of meta-notes forming meta-lines forming meta-textures forming meta-affects.

Keyboard Sonata in E-flat Major Wq. 65 #7 - C.P.E. Bach - Miklos Spanyi

At least here, the underlying model  is fancy coloratura singing. To that extent C.P.E. Bach is an interesting early model for Chopin's pianism.

Keyboard Sonata in G Major Hob.XVI:G1 - Haydn - Christine Schornsheim

Phrases sit just so within the key scheme, happy to be there, happy to be framing patterns out of their registral postures.

Concerto in C K. 246 - Mozart - English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner, Michael Bilson

Mozart's phrases breathe like singers, and the whole creates a breathing space around itself.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

March 29, 2015
Sacajawea Playfield 150329 - Keith Eisenbrey

I recorded early morning bird song and modest traffic noise at this local city park.

Duet 150329 - Keith Eisenbrey

This day's pairing was tenor banjo and a concoction of zither, small cymbal, and a length of metal drain pipe.

March 30, 2015
Banned Telepath 31 150330 Seattle
Banned Telepath 31 150330 Somerville
Banned Rehearsal 852 150330 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy (in Seattle); and Aaron Keyt (in Somerville)