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