23 July 2014

Done with the search (what, already?)

As I have been mulling a choice of text for the young-choir-&-piano piece, Paul sent to suggest Dona nobis pacem ("5-10 mins"). Which I think perfectly apt. In my quick-&-mussy search yesterday, I found that (reflecting the intersection of two facts: that perhaps as much as 35% of the world's population fancy themselves poets; and that everybody loves peace) a Google search mostly gave me New Age-related links of no use and less interest. I did, however, find a couple of 17th-c. poems, which are lovely and most worthy of setting to music, but which (understandably for the time and place) make reference to (e.g.) one born in a stable (on the Prince of Peace theme). In our present instance, we want a text free of specific theological implication.

Even though the petition dona nobis pacem comes straight from the Mass (which, naturally, is a cornerstone reference of Western culture), there are two settings of that text already slated for the program. Sure, that puts the musical pressure on.

When Paul and I talked this over in person, he mentioned that he thought of the Vaughan Williams, which naturally is on too grand a scale to be practical for this concert.

But . . .

In the same search which turned up the 17th-c. poems, I found a Whitman poem (and I had been thinking of Whitman from the first, had in fact quickly thumbed a bit through the actual book yesterday morning) of which one stanza in particular would suit. So, with Paul suggesting that I set Dona nobis pacem (with which, face it, I should be well challenged to create 10 minutes of music), I have been brought face to face with "the Vaughan Williams model." Not so large-scale a piece, naturally . . . and (thinking as I type) not sure whether to leave it as a single movement, or to make it three movements, with the Latin text for bookends, and a musically "enriched" return to it after the English text for a larger central movement.

We shall see. I feel certain that the question of the text is completely settled.

22 July 2014

The weekend's leisure done...

Sunday morning at St Aidan's (picture below) was a lovely occasion, musically satisfactory. The Prelude on « Kremser » (admittedly, nay, designedly, not a great challenge) went perfectly;  I had a good time noodling on the hymns, something I've not done in a long while, but a type of musical activity which reaches back even to when I was a teenager; and Paul & I improvised coöperatively to excellent effect (I thought) for the Offertory (entirely Paul's idea, to give credit where due).

Following up on a fragment of conversation, I may likely arrange Kremser for oboe; which is to say, a task which will require next to no effort.

Lee reports that work continues on a versification of that episode from A Center of the Universe which I've selected for the mezzo-&-marimba piece for Carola & Sylvie.

One of the basses in the First Church choir is also a publisher, and we once had a chat on the lines of, If you published a piece of Henningmusick, what would that piece look like? The answer coincides neatly with a proposal (more of a suggestion, really) Paul once made, that I write a piece technically suited to a good high school chorus, with piano accompaniment, setting a general-use (i.e., non-liturgical) text. It was always a good and sound suggestion;  I've just been about other musical business.

This line of discussion warmed back up this weekend, as Paul told me of a concert he is planning, on the theme of Peace. So, here I go, looking for a good (public domain, non-sacred) text on that sublime Subject. Cannot be hard.

20 July 2014


About to head over to church with Paul, for to play my Prelude on « Kremser ».

18 July 2014

Pre-Fall River Shuffle

1. Vaughan Williams, A Pastoral Symphony (1922). i. Molto moderato (Haitink, London Phil) [?/1287]
2. Jeff Beck, "Loose Cannon" from You Had It Coming [580/1287]
3. Bartók, String Quartet № 5 (Sz.102, 1934). iii. Scherzo: alla bulgarese (Emerson String Quartet) [988/1287]
4. The Beatles, "Savoy Truffle" from The Beatles ("The White Album") [817/1287]
5. Дмитрий Дмитриевич, Six Romances on Verses by English Poets, Op.62 (1942). № 5, Sonnet LXVI; Shakespeare (Fyodor Kuznetsov, bass) [943/1287]
6. Robert Fripp, "I Smile Like Chicago" from Exposure [226/1287]
7. Дмитрий Дмитриевич, Prelude & Fugue in B-flat Major, Op.87, № 21 (1950-51). (Nikolayeva) [1270/1287]
8. Дмитрий Дмитриевич, Four Romances on Verses by Pushkin, Op.46 (1942). № 2, Weeping Bitterly (Fyodor Kuznetsov, bass) [333/1287]
9. Дмитрий Дмитриевич, Entr'acte between Scenes 2/3, from Katerina Izmailova Suite, Op.114a (1963). Allegro con brio (Jurowski, Cologne Radio Symphony) [480/1287]
10. Ginastera, Variaciones concertantes, Op.23 (1953). Variazione drammatica per viola (Pons, Orquesta de Ciudad de Granada) [1172/1287]
11. Jeff Beck, "Roy's Toy" from You Had It Coming [807/1287]
12. Penguin Café Orchestra, "Numbers 1-4" from Penguin Café Orchestra [688/1287]
13. Stravinsky, The Flood (1962). vii. The Covenant of the Rainbow (Knussen, London Sinfonietta & al.) [1108/1287]
14. Elgar, Elegy, Op.58 (1909). (Barbirolli, Hallé Orchestra) [304/1287]
15. Hindemith, Suite "1922," Op.26 (1922). № 1, Marsch (Jn McCabe) [996/1287]
16. Сергей Сергеевич, Visions fugitives, Op.22 (1915-17). № 2, Andante (Béroff) [1207/1287]
17. Vaughan Williams, A Pastoral Symphony (1922). ii. Lento moderato (Haitink, London Phil) [437/1287]
18. Cage, Cheap Imitation (1969). ii. (Schleiermacher) [223/1287]
19. The Bobs, "My, I'm Large" from My, I'm Large [667/1287]
20. Nielsen. Symphony № 5, FS 97, Op.50 (1921-22). ii. AllegroPrestoAndante un poco tranquilloAllegro (Blomstedt, SFSO)

It's quite a long while since last I listened to the Sansa Fuze on shuffle, but today is a reminder of what rattlin' good fun that can be.

17 July 2014

Just the facts, please

From a recent post at Haydn Seek:
I have already, in these pages, had a rant here and there concerning the judgmental attitude displayed by people who should know better. I believe once one has taken it upon himself to illuminate some cultural phenomenon for the rest of society, it is not then necessarily incumbent upon the writer to go further and to pass artistic verdicts which are, by their placement within books of fact, given the aura of being fact themselves. I dearly resent this practice, and so should you. It should be up to you to decide whether this or that work is something you wish to listen to, and even enjoy.
. . . which precisely mirrors my ancient quarrel with Harlow Robinson in his old biography of Prokofiev, where he blandly disses the magnificent Second Symphony, and unnecessarily runs down some other perfectly enjoyable scores.  Tchah!

16 July 2014

Fresh ink

This is a historic day for my White Nights. The "reclamation" of all the previous work is done, and today saw the first entries to an actual score (as opposed to text outlines) of Scene 8, At the Opera. The eight-year-old outline is incomplete, and (what is probably a new notion) I tinkered today with an introduction. But all the raw material is there, courtesy of Rossini, and I simply need to teach myself the art of collage. And I have the patience for trial-&-error.

15 July 2014


Still cogitating, but there will be a slumbering mouse, guile against royal claims, and mysteriously selective toxicity.

Last night I watched Outland. I saw it on the big screen, back when it opened, but I hadn't seen it since. I remember more or less liking it on first viewing;  I don't mind having seen it again, but at this point I don't think all that much of it. Connery is fine, to be sure, makes the role human and believable. When he loses words, and just says, "Oh, f$#k it," I was disappointed in both the script and the actor. I mean, sure, haul off and belt Sheppard;  but the line, the timing, the placement...downgraded the whole enterprise. Boyle was all right; the role did not call forth anything from him (and his was a varied talent). All the ballooning faces got tiresome. The bar got old. For most of the movie, the exchange between Lazarus and O'Neil was good, but then at the end, lapsed into the maudlin (against which Lazarus had scolded O'Neil earlier). The score was quite good, a notch better than the overall enterprise.

Shan't need to watch it again.