31 March 2011

Shuffling March Out!

Heart like a shuffle:

1. Elgar: Elegy, Opus 58 (Hallé Orchestra, Barbirolli) [323/1507]

2. Bonzo Dog Doo/Dah Band: “The Craig Torso Christmas Show” from the reissue of Tadpoles (with extra tracks) [1251/1507]

3. The Beatles: “Mother Nature’s Son” from The Beatles [734/1507]

4. Prokofiev: Piano Concerto № 4 in Bb, Opus 53 — iv. Vivace (Michel Béroff, pf; Gewandhausorchester; Masur) [823/1507]

5. Vaughan Williams: Symphony № 8 — iii. Cavatina (London Philharmonic, Haitink) [439/1172]

6. Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin, Opus 19, Sz. 73 — At last she overcomes her reluctance (LSO, Doráti) [1281/1308]

7. Cat Stevens: “Majik of Majiks” from The Very Best of Cat Stevens [685/1507]

8. Stravinsky: Credo from the Mass (Westminster Cathedral Choir, City of London Sinfonia, James O’Donnell) [693/1172]

9. Bonzo Dog Doo/Dah Band: “Jazz: Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold” from the reissue of Gorilla (with extra tracks) [573/1507]

10. Debussy: Six épigraphes antiques — iv. Pour la danseuse aux crotales (Jean-Philippe Collard & Michel Béroff) [557/1029]

11. Stravinsky: Le baiser der la fée — Interlude (LSO, Craft) [538/1029]

Duo Cantabrigia

Yesterday at St Paul’s, soprano Alecia Batson and organist/pianist Leonardo Ciampa gave a charmingly conceived (and ably executed) program of John Donne settings. The recital was about evenly split between composers of Donne’s own era, and recent settings by Dan Shore (in attendance at the concert) and Leonardo Ciampa himself. (Leonardo told me afterwards that Alecia had selected the entire program — thus modestly disavowing any selfish promotion of songs which he composed earlier this year.)

The concert was very nicely balanced, not only with the stylistic divide, but by the fact that Dan’s four settings were accompanied by piano. All the older settings were full worthy of being ‘dusted off’ for performance anew; and the new settings by Mssrs Shore & Ciampa are well written enough that we may hope they come to be sing again and again.

Currency & exchange rates

Thought I was in the UK for a moment, when I saw "Drop 10 Pounds" on a magazine cover. Fact is, on a newsstand that means, first of all, "Unbelt, and buy this magazine!"

And for some magazines, you would pay £10 for a single issue off the newsstand.

Very nice lunchtime concert I went to yesterday. More later.

And I think tonight may be the final concert of the present tour by DMC Duo. Will the Whimsies see light hereafter? Who can say?…

29 March 2011

Lunchtime Oasis

The program itself was not quite my thing, but then, too, there is value unto the composer’s ears, in listening now and then to that which is other than your thing. A set of spirituals arranged for organ by Adolphus Hailstork (one of the coolest not-made-up names one runs across), very nicely played by Lee Ridgway at King’s Chapel. Syncopation in spirituals realized at the console, is not quite like syncopation anywhere else on the planet.

28 March 2011

Oops I shuffled again

Hither and thither:

1. Beethoven: Symphony № 9 in d minor, Opus 125 — from mvt iv: Presto. Allegro assai (Leipzig Gewandhausorchester & al.; Masur) [20/1507]
2. Shostakovich: Symphony № 14, Opus 135 — mvt viii: “The Zaporozhian Cossacks’ Reply to the Sultan of Constantinople” (Mikhail Ryssov, bass; Prague Symphony Orchestra; Maksim Dmitriyevich) [943/1507]
3. Genesis: “Duke’s End” from Duke [314/1507]
4. Frank Zappa: “King Kong (Live on a Flatbed Diesel in the Middle of a Racetrack)” from Uncle Meat [586/1507]
5. Astor Piazzolla: “Buenos Aires: Hora Cero” from Hommage à Piazzolla (Gidon Kremer &al.) [202/1507]
6. Robert Fripp: “Chicago” from Exposure [232/1507]
7. Bartók: Piano Concerto № 2, Sz.95 — mvt iii: Allegro molto (Géza Anda, Berlin Radio Symphony, Fricsay) [514/1507]
8. Bartók: Sonata for two pianos & percussion, Sz. 110, i. Assai lento — Allegro troppo (Zoltán Kocsis, Dezső Ránki, Gusztáv Cser & Zoltán Rácz) [1062/1172]
9. Vaughan Williams: Symphony № 9 — iv. Finale con epilogo fugato: Allegro molto (London Phil, Haitink) [762/1507]
10. Vaughan Williams: Symphony № 7 — iii. Landscape: Lento (London Phil, Haitink) [1152/1507]
11. Talking Heads: “I Zimbra” from Fear of Music [444/1507]
12. Cat Stevens: “Where Do the Children Play?” from Tea for the Tillerman [1448/1507]
13. Stravimsky: Canticum sacrum ad honorem Sancti Marci nominis — from Part III: Fides (Westminster Cathedral Choir, City of London Sinfonia, Jas O’Donnell) [215/1507]
14. Nielsen: Concerto for Violin, Opus 33 — i. Praeludium. Allegro cavallerico (Jno Carney, vn; Bournemouth Symphony; Kees Bakels) [1388/1507]
15. Nielsen: Sinfonia espansiva (Symphony № 3) Opus 27, FS 60 — i. Allegro espansivo (SFSO, Blomstedt) [751/1507]
16. Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Opus 22 № 2 — Andante (Eteri Andjaparidze) [1412/1507]
17. Webern: Variations for orchestra, Opus 30 (Berlin Philharmonic, Boulez) [1369/1507]
18. Beethoven: Symphony № 6 in F Major,Pastoral Symphony, Opus 68 — iii. Allegro [1168/1507]
19. Prokofiev: Piano Concerto № 2 in g minor, Opus 16 — ii. Scherzo. Vivace (Michel Béroff, pf; Gewandhausorchester; Masur) [814/1507]
20. Hindemith: Konzertmusik for brass & strings, Opus 50 — conclusion of Part I (NY Phil, Lenny) [596/1507]
21. Ravel: La valse: poème chorégraphique (Michel Béroff & Jean-Philippe Collard) [620/1507]


Soho the Dog cites some ripe journalism, at about the sesquicentennial:

. . . and sectional strifes be superseded by national concord—results which could probably be achieved by a proper distribution of the “flats” and “sharps” of the nation, or better, perhaps, by dispensing with them altogether

Dispense entirely with sharps and flats? What chromatophobes they were!

26 March 2011

Touch That Dial

Per this here post, the choir of First Church in Boston (Dr Paul Cienniwa, director) are singing Love Is the Spirit (a piece I wrote for Paul & the choir) as part of the service tomorrow (Sunday the 27th).

The service is broadcast (and live-streamed) on WERS FM in Boston; the service begins at 11:00AM Chowder Time.

25 March 2011


Had a nice talk with the animator yesterday afternoon, and we watched the current state of the animation. (Some of the artwork is crude, and obviously just a ‘place-holder’ for work she is fixin’ to finish later . . . still, she was apologetic and rushed to assure me, “I really can draw!”)

One thing is that she would like the music to be practically continuous throughout (with the exception of one scene, more on which later) . . . which does not ‘inconvenience’ me, though one of my presuppositions was an occasional judicious silence. What the animator wants, though, is the ‘temporal depth’ which a steady musical undercurrent gives the whole. Which suits the piece well; and certainly, I can write whatever may be wanted.

One of the few questions I carried in the back of my own mind, going into yesterday’s meeting, was the ‘found’ sounds (an alarm clock, an electrical zap, e.g.). The a. will find them on her own, which suits me very nicely.

The overall sense I had from the ‘cold, silent’ view I had of an earlier version of the animation was: that while the story plays out as a series of incidents, everyday activities which the protagonist briefly imagines as an incident where she manages to do herself a mischief, so that there is a series of fantastical violences . . . the climax of the story is a minor bicycle accident which (the girl finds to her surprise) happens in the real world, and she shakes herself off and walks away from it. Now, the impression I had was that, while what is wanted through most of the piece is a sense of undercurrent brooding and threat, the ending, though would be brighter-hued, unshadowed. And to my pleasure, this is in complete harmony with the animator’s idea for the piece.

Originally (a month or more ago) I was thinking of combining the need for music here, with the new alto flute, clarinet, cello trio to be performed in May. But I have allowed How to Tell to take on its own necessary life. My idea now for the soundtrack is to create an ‘accompaniment’ level in Sibelius, export it as a sound file, play it back on a CD; and there will be a ‘live’ clarinet part which I shall play ‘against’ it, and record the lot.

One curious coda to yesterday’s meeting was the animator’s request for some ‘distorted’ sound in the opening. My idea there, is perhaps to make use of a trumpet which used to belong to my nephew (a school which I’ve never succeeded in selling off, or even giving away . . . not that I’ve vigorously tried the latter) . . . that I can make use of the trumpet in ways which will be, in effect, a ‘distorted clarinet’.

How to write How to Tell

Not a score, but an accretion of clues as to what will (likely) go on in the trio.

And now, to gather some more . . . .

23 March 2011

On the train

Puttered a bit with the piece-in-progress. Made a date to talk about animation, and the music to be attached thereunto. Listened to some late Holmboe symphonies, and the Rakhmaninov First & Second Symphonies. The Budgie Whisperer, irregal and loving it. Which would be worse: Elton re-writing "Something in the Wind" again (for Liz Taylor, rest her soul); or — Elton trying to write something new? Kafka McNuggets with misjudicial dipping sauce. And extra napkins.

22 March 2011

At work

The best ideas come to me when I polish my shoes early in the morning.
— J. Brahms

Not to be too coy, but I have been at occasional work on How to Tell (the new trio-in-progress). Puttered on it while riding the bus this morning — which is to say, no particular news.

Spoke on the phone today with two different friends in southern California, though circumstances conspire against either of them attending performances this month of Angular Whimsies.

For Castelo, and even though in theory there is a lot of time yet on the calendar, I am starting to lose hope. Which of course means that I need a Plan B for half the 19 May program.

One possibility is to make How to Tell a much more substantial piece. Would not be the oddest thing I’ve ever done.

Statistical favoritism

This random shuffle resulted in a curious Prokofiev-plus character:

1. Ginastera: Variaciones concertantes, Opus 23 — Variazione in modo di moto perpetuo per violino solo (Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Josep Pons) [1365/1507]
2. Prokofiev: Cinderella, Opus 87 — Act I, № 7: The Dancing Lesson (Cleveland Orchestra, Ashkenazy) [103/1507]
3. Prokofiev: Cinderella, Opus 87 — Act II, № 29: Cinderella’s Arrival at the Ball (Cleveland Orchestra, Ashkenazy) [114/1507]
4. Mannheim Steamroller: “Still, Still, Still” [1082/1507]
5. Vaughan Williams: A Pastoral Symphony — iv. Lento (London Phil, Haitink) [564/1507]
6. Prokofiev: Le pas d’acier, Opus 41: Les petits camelots (Cologne West German Radio Symphony, M. Jurowski) [627/1507]
7. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: “Orange Claw Hammer” from Trout Mask Replica [782/1507]
8. Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Opus 22 № 4 — Animato (Michel Béroff) [1405/1507]
9. Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet, Opus 64 — Act II, Scene iv: Juliet at Friar Laurence’s, Lento (BSO, Ozawa) [64/1507]
10. Prokofiev: Cinderella, Opus 87 — Act I, № 4: The Father (Cleveland Orchestra, Ashkenazy) [100/1507]
11. Prokofiev: Piano Concerto № 1 in Db, Opus 10 — iii. Allegro scherzando (Michel Béroff, pf; Gewandhausorchester; Masur) [812/1507]
12. Elgar: Cello Concerto in e minor, Opus 85 — iii: Adagio (André Navarra, vc; Hallé Orchestra; Barbirolli) [227/1507]
13. The Beatles: “Rain” from Past Masters [847/1507]
14. Murat Işbilen: “Gülümcan” from Istanbul Lounge [392/1507]
15. Berlioz: L’enfance du Christ, Opus 25 — Eh, Bien! (BSO, & al.; Chas Munch) [427/1507]

21 March 2011

Dear Friends

Peter Bergman and Firesign Theatre producer and archivist, Taylor Jessen, discuss the box set of Firesign Theatre radio shows (1970-72), Duke of Madness Motors (released February 2011), featuring over 80 hours of MP3 audio on a DVD-ROM and a 108 page full-color book.

When I first leafed through the book, I knew I had a Rossini comment to add . . . the interview is 67% well worth watching, and let Peter Bergman speak for himself:

Firesign Theatre: Duke of Madness Motors from DANGEROUS MINDS on Vimeo.

. . . which is great fun for about 21:49, and then gets topical, and the host is ‘candid’ in a way which kills the brilliant soul of the prior discussion. Bergman does take part at a plane which reflects well upon himself.

Big kudoi to Taylor Jessen for putting the audio feast which is Duke of Madness Motors together.

. . . in his own comments in the book, he makes a fun musical error . . . which first (it being a humor book, after all) I almost took for a joke, attributing the famous Flight of the Bumblebee to Rossini. (Don’t make me tell you who the actual composer was.) But all the other composer-&-title match-ups were accurate (including Grofe, Prokofiev & Liszt) — and, of course, no one is going to fault Taylor Jessen for a minor slip like that. Apart perhaps from the heirs of Rimsky-Korsakov (oh, what a giveaway).

20 March 2011

Knowing one's own work

. . . perhaps I’m not a good actor,
but I would be even worse at doing anything else.

— Sean Connery

I have been (speaking solely in terms of listening to it) a deer caught in the sonic headlights of the Penguin Café Orchestra’s “The sound of someone you love who’s going away and it doesn’t matter.”

19 March 2011

Slow of reportage

The shuffle from St Patrick’s Day, actually:

1. Shostakovich: Symphony № 14, Opus 135 — mvt vii: “À la Santé” (Mikhail Ryssov, bass; Prague Symphony Orchestra; Maksim Dmitriyevich) [942/1507]
2. Beethoven: Symphony № 8 in F Major, Opus 93 — mvt i: Allegro vivace (Leipzig Gewandhausorchester; Masur) [1178/1507]
3. The Bonzo Dog Doo/Dah Band: “Lie Down & Be Counted,” bonus track from the reissue of Let’s Make Up and Be Friendly [637/1507]
4. Peter Gabriel: “Red Rain” from So [863/1507]
5. Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116 — mvt iv: Intermezzo interotto (LSO; Doráti) [542/1507]
6. Henning: Three Things that Begin with ‘C’, Opus 65a (Peter Lekx, va; Henning, cl) [1322/1507]
7. Jethro Tull: “Bungle in the Jungle” from War Child [204/1507]
8. The Beatles: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from The Beatles [1449/1507]
9. Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Opus 22 № 1 — Lentamente (Michel Béroff) [1391/1507]
10. Allegri: Miserere (Oxford Camerata, Jeffrey Summerley) [707/1507]
11. The Beatles: “Lady Madonna” from Past Masters [622/1507]
12. Shostakovich: String Quartet № 1 in C Major, Opus 49 — mvt iii: Allegro molto (Emerson Quartet) [978/1507]
13. Jethro Tull: Title track from Minstrel in the Gallery [706/1507]
14. Bartók: String Quartet № 6, Sz. 114 — mvt iii: Mesto - Burletta (Emerson Quartet) [1107/1507]
15. The Beatles: “Ob La Di” from The Beatles [769/1507]
16. The Cars: “Dontcha Stop” from The Cars [310/1507]
17. The Beatles: “Yer Blues” from The Beatles [1496/1507]
18. Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Opus 22 № 3 — Allegretto (Michel Béroff) [1404/1507]
19. Robt Fripp: “I May Not Have Enough of Me, But I’ve Had Enough of You” from Exposure [433/1507]
20. Vaughan Williams: Symphony № 5 in d minor — mvt iii: Romanza. Lento (London Phil; Haitink) [502/1507]

It was a long while since any Henningmusick cropped up in a shuffle.

Boatload of Beatles here; and overall, quite pop-heavy. Of which trend the track from Exposure was a nice sonic purge. And then concluding with the Vaughan Williams . . . exquisite.

Ongoing Efforts to Get the Music Out There

Per this here post, the DMC Duo (firstly) are playing Angular Whimsies (Heavy Paint Manipulation) for bass clarinet and percussion this very night, in San Diego; and (secondly) have added to more dates to their present west coast tour.

Seven bits of Henningmusick published by Lux Nova Press are now available at Hutchins & Rea. (My seven pieces there are among 33 Lux Nova titles overall which are now available at that fine music distributor.)

16 March 2011

Épater la bracketoisie

Some little while ago, Osbert Parsley, the Angry Organist of This Blog Will Change the World, posted splendidly in ‘defense’ of Michael Tippetts music: Separated at Birth?
First off, you’ve got to love a blog post containing the line: All of the above, of course, was necessary only for the two people in the blogosphere who still take Norman Lebrecht seriously . . . .
(Though it begs the question: Has anyone, anywhere, at any time taken Lebrecht seriously?)
One dark shadow cast by Osbert’s post, though, is the quiz which he mentions Soho the Dog having posted, “asking you to choose either Benjamin Britten or Michael Tippett” . . . just the sort of activity which is of doubtful value (and generally of some harmful result, if the blithe reinforcement of unthinking cultural prejudice can be classified as a type of harm) in the discussion of music.  I haven’t pursued the quiz thus referenced; and Soho is a fellow of no little intelligence, so I am for the time being content to guess that there was some worthy purpose behind the quiz.
Setting aside the bracketology . . . I have in the past (the distant past, now) found myself a little guarded, as a listener, in the case of both Britten and Tippett.  As an undergraduate, I was exposed to the Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra (which I consider a piece which it must be near impossible to dislike, in ways similar to the Prokofiev Classical Symphony and Stravinskys Greeting Prelude) and while in Charlottesville I was instructed to study Curlew River (entirely to my benefit).  I dimly remember the likelihood that A Child of Our Time may have been on the junior year listening list (the source for the end-of-semester drop-the-needle test), but then, the lost for junior year was far the most extensive (so that we lazy students carefully targeted our ‘actual listening’), and superficially, the Tippett seemed an easy work to ‘identify blind’ . . . so (I can confess it now) I never actually listened to it.
Post-Buffalo (where, incidentally, I played in the pit for a university production of Albert Herring), while in St Petersburg, I was made welcome to borrow books from the British Consulate’s Cultural Centre Library.  So it was while I sojourned abroad, curiously, that I read substantial bios of both Britten and Tippett, both of the bios with good, meaty discussion of the music.  It was only apt that the Tippett bio should dwell at some length on the operas, and yet, from reading of some of the operas (for which Tippett crafted his own libretti) — I must emphasize, without any listening to the actual music — I allowed myself to slide into a generally derisory attitude towards Tippett.
I am going to cut way ahead.  My disposition at the time to prefer Britten (of the two) meant that I scarfed up the 37-disc EMI Britten Collector’s Edition box first (and I have been, overall, well pleased with how much of it I find excellent listening).  Tippett was obviously not nearly so profilic, and yet I have been only gradually getting my feet wet.  At some magical point I took the plunge for both the Triple Concerto and The Rose Lake (the latter coupled on the disc with The Vision of St Augustine, which honestly, I have yet to tackle properly), and the concerto and the ballet went a great way towards correcting my estimation of the composer.  Some while ago I borrowed a recording of (most of) the quartets, though I have not seriously listened to them yet (which means, of course, that it is high time I returned the recording . . . .)
My old friend Charles P mentioned King Priam in passing once when we chatted in his office, and I am going to give that a go, soon I hope.
The symphonies were still sitting in the penalty box, and I had to listen so that I could either judge that to be fair, or to destroy the injustice.  Actually, the first thing I listened to, from the Hickox/Bournemouth Symphony box, was the suite from the opera New Year, which my friend Luke mentioned.  The suite is such fun, and so well written, that now (I nearly shudder to consider) I wonder if I shouldn’t forget any aesthetic revulsion I feel towards the libretto/story, and just listen to the opera for the sake of the music.  Bits of music (which I thought at first might represent the aliens, but now, well, I am not so sure) remind me somewhat of the Zappa of 200 Motels, or “Manx Needs Women.”  Surprisingly successful use of electric guitar in the orchestra, it seemed to me.
With the Fourth Symphony, I clicked immediately.  I thought the preceding symphony might be a chore, but . . . .
Firstly, the Beethoven citation strikes me as perfectly fine, which is a change from the (dis-contextualized) first time I heard (only a patch of) the Third Symphony.  That earlier time, it happened that I was driving around, and just landed mid-symphony while dial-twiddling the car radio.  I do remember finding myself musically annoyed by the sudden intrusion of Beethoven, but then, given the “audition” circumstances, that really means nothing.  Chances are, I soon after re-tuned the car radio—in any event, I do not now remember hearing any soprano, then.  (Chances are, too, that it was the first occurrence in the Tippett of the famous Schreckenfanfare.)

From recent on-online discussion, I had been led to expect that the soprano (or, the soprano singing, not the blues, but some stylization of the blues) would somehow be The Problem.  Well, here I’ve heard her sing, myself, and I find no such matter.  Fact is, when she began singing, and there was a sort of responsory duet with solo trumpet, I thought it was more a kind of echo of Threni than aught else.  Any question of adaptation of the blues doesn’t ‘bother’ me at all, in the first place;  and in the second, another classic resonance I found working in Tippett’s favor:  the Schoenberg second quartet.

I guess, most of all, that I am a bit taken aback (in a pleased way) that I find this piece (and indeed, so much of Tippetts work) so readily agreeable to listen to, and to enjoy on its own merits.  What was I thinking, giving any credence to the naysayers?

15 March 2011

I know the feeling

. . . having fallen asleep practically mid-sentence, myself.

More than once.

14 March 2011


Bending treeward into the darkest whorls of hesitant puffins keen hastily Burgundied fetched in escarpment hue theorized the old magazine a vase half full of crumbled sensational fantasists insist resistance amply fuel pumped arc-lamp valves sea-water scheduled feeding a sign assign slate chalking rocking chair hairnet henna shelf-life Epsom salts iodized and confused could get shroud the crowd crowed but in Peter’s courtyard crew head of the James eaves droplet pipe-cleaners cleaver bakery fakir Hieronymous posh inflatable tread the broad majestic phantom go away the boards thick with dissident sediment journey tooth innocent ptarmigan ruffling millet pillow caste neither feather hurtle be-bop treacherous leathern jowel jovially roulette berth the flagon slamming carob acrobats caterwaul drily height purpled kiln-fired fraud paupered agency vagrant niffing fuming split pea podiatrists trysting with his older sibilant froth north of Wyoming combing cockswain wells flailing pails of nectar hectoring Achilles healing and well-being feeling touchy coochy-coo cheeky encomium circuitous grounded hearth sweep bristles bearded breaded braids piping epaulettes.

13 March 2011

Current ruminations

For How to Tell, I think what I really want to do is work backwards . . . or, from the end, back to the top and fill in. I suddenly felt the right thing for the piece was to close with a sort-of-chorale, and that this ending will furnish the intervalic materials for the rest of the piece.

As a result, too, I am thinking of making the brief patch of music wanted for the animation-in-progress perfectly independent. For one thing, I still haven’t met with the animator (to discuss the work frame-by-frame-ish, at least), so I still don’t want to go into that conversation with too much music settled in aforehand.

12 March 2011

And another strange shuffle

Meant to post this yesterday:

1. Mannheim Steamroller: “Winter Wonderland” [1455/1507]
2. Genesis: “Please Don’t Ask” from Duke [832/1507]
3. Ravel: Ma mère l’oye, iv. Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête (Michel Béroff & Jean-Philippe Collard) [1374/1507]
4. Beethoven: Symphony № 3 in Eb Major, Opus 55 Sinfonia eroica — mvt ii: Marcia funebre (Leipzig Gewandhausorchester; Masur) [1172/1507]
5. Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116 — mvt v: Finale. Presto (LSO; Doráti) [343/1507]
6. Hindemith: Ludus tonalis № 3 — Interludio xi. Valse (John McCabe) [1175/1507]
7. Beethoven: Symphony № 8 in F Major, Opus 93 — mvt i: Allegro vivace e con brio (Leipzig Gewandhausorchester; Masur) [1175/1507]
8. Stravinsky: Symphonies d’instruments à vent (Netherlands Wind Ensemble; Thierry Fischer)
9. King Crimson: “Elephant Talk” from Discipline [324/1507]
10. Robt Fripp: “Breathless” from Exposure [198/1507]

A few oddities about this shuffle:

In the course of a 30-track shuffle (should we still call them ‘tracks’?) there occurred two consecutive numbers from the Prokofiev Visions fugitives Opus 22, and two consecutive movements from the Shostakovich 13th Symphony.

And Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music came in a bit heavy statistically (then, and here). Perhaps that will pass, now that spring is arriving.

And for non-oddity . . . the sequence of Nielsen Clarinet Concerto, “Electric Aunt Jemima” & “Humor” from the Babi Yar symphony was especially tasty.

10 March 2011


. . . that I remembered correctly, in the quote attributed to Miles Davis, that the car was a Ferrari.

Shuffling along

Setting the Sansa Fuze a-whirl:

1. Hindemith: Konzertmusik for piano, brass $ two harps, Opus 49 (Monique Haas, pf; Berliner Philharmoniker; the composer conducting) [592/1507]
2. Shostakovich: Symphony № 13, Opus 113 “Babi Yar” — mvt iii: “In the Store” (Peter Mikulas, bass; Prague Philharmonic Chorus Men & Kühn Male Chorus; Prague Symphony Orchestra; Maksim Dmitriyevich) [932/1507]
3. Jethro Tull: “Under Wraps 2” from Under Wraps [1346/1507]
4. Prokofiev: Cinderella, Opus 87 — Act I, № 12: The Spring Fairy (Cleveland Orchestra, Ashkenazy) [91/1507]
5. Mannheim Steamroller: “Traditions of Christmas” [1329/1507]
6. Frank Zappa: “Black Napkins” from You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore [191/1507]
7. Ömer Faruk Tekbilek: “I Love You” from Istanbul Lounge [432/1507]
8. The Beatles: “Savoy Truffle” from The Beatles [904/1507]
9. Jethro Tull: Title track from Roots to Branches [885/1507]
10. Shostakovich: String Quartet № 8 in c minor, Opus 110 — iii. Allegretto (Emerson String Quartet) [1130/1507]
11. Vaughan Williams: Symphony № 4 — iv. Finale con epilogo fugato: Allegro molto (London Phil, Haitink) [563/1507]
12. Nielsen: Suite from Aladdin — iv: Chinese Dance (SFSO, Blomstedt) [146/1507]
13. Shostakovich: Entr'acte 2/3 from The Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Opus 34 (Cologne Radio Symphony, M. Jurowski) [543/1507]
14. Mannheim Steamroller: “Let It Snow” [636/1507]
15. Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Opus 22 № 17 — Poetico (Michel Béroff) [1399/1507]
16. Vivaldi: Le quattro stagioni № 2, L’estate — iii. Presto (Kremerata Baltica, Gidon Kremer) [609/1507]
17. The Police: “Deathwish” from Regatta de blanc [286/1507]
18. Jethro Tull: “Jack-in-the-Green” from Songs from the Wood [570/1507]
19. Vaughan Williams: Symphony № 5 in d minor — iv Preludio (London Phil, Haitink) [1193/1507]
20. The Beatles: “She Said She Said” from Revolver [919/1507]
21. Genesis: “Alone Tonight” from Duke [156/1507]
22. Nielsen: Klarinetkoncert, Opus 57 (Kevin Banks, cl; Bournemouth Symphony; Bakels) [238/1507]
23. Frank Zappa & The Mothers: “Electric Aunt Jemima” from Uncle Meat [321/1507]
24. Shostakovich: Symphony № 13, Opus 113 “Babi Yar” — mvt ii: “Humor” (Peter Mikulas, bass; Prague Philharmonic Chorus Men & Kühn Male Chorus; Prague Symphony Orchestra; Maksim Dmitriyevich) [931/1507]
25. Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Opus 22 № 18 — Con una dolce lentezza (Michel Béroff) [1400/1507]
26. Ginastera: Variaciones concertantes, Opus 23 — Interludio per corde (Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Josep Pons) [1357/1507]
27. Vivaldi: Le quattro stagioni № 1, La primavera — ii. Largo (Kremerata Baltica, Gidon Kremer) [618/1507]
28. Prokofiev: Cinderella, Opus 87 — Act I, № 1: Introduction (Cleveland Orchestra, Ashkenazy) [236/1507]
29. Debussy: Épigraphes antiques, vi. Pour remercier la pluie au matin (Michel Béroff & Jean-Philippe Collard) [1374/1507]
30. Prokofiev: Sarcasms, Opus 17 № 4 — Smanioso (Eteri Andjaparidze ) [901/1507]

09 March 2011

Author’s Message

It is (admittedly) rather haphazard, my gradual traversal of the DVD reissues of both The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. If I remark at the outset that the immediate comparison which occurs to me is, how much better the writing is, and how much more beautifully the episodes are shot, in the Zone rather than beyond the Limits . . . nonetheless, I am often enjoying the latter.

Curiously, last night's links in the two several, gradually unwinding chains provided a most interesting synergy. First I watched "Tourist Attraction" from (season 1 of) The Outer Limits. Even a bit heavier-handed in its didactic elements than is customary for the series, perhaps—and as with no few of the costumes to be seen over the course of the series, one is apt to be amused by rather than in any awe of the exotic creatures — but there were a couple of items which struck me as odd. From the first scene that the two characters share, the Generalísimo is possessed of a more agreeable and humane air than is the American millionaire. And yet, at the end of the show, the Generalísimo lies dead (thus to all tyrants, Lebowski), where the gringo — whose intentions with the sea creature were not any whit nobler than the military dictator's — not only remains alive, but (with no dramaturgical plausibility whatever) is reconciled with The Love Interest (no reason at all why she should not have made off with the marine biologist, whose character is intelligent, sensitive, but not geeky). I suppose even a greedy, soulless millionaire is entitled to . . . one hesitates to say either love or happiness, since Dexter's character appears to have no talent for either.

Apparently, Rod Serling wrote "Deaths-Head Revisited" (no, I hadn't noted the hommage to the Waugh title before) while the Eichmann trial was under way. I must remark, though, that while I was watching the episode, I suffered no hauntings from the Ghost of Topicalities Past — I simply found it a gripping story (it doesn't hurt that I am in the midst of an initial reading of Jan Potocki's The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, which is reminding me heavily — in entirely welcome ways — of Washington Irving's Tales of a Traveller) of an SS officer who has tried to shed his vile past, but who finds himself overtaken by retribution. Serling wrote a screenplay which stays searingly in focus, a powerful parable which (I find myself thinking at the end) everyone should see once, as part of an educative awareness of WWII.

That said — a friend told me some time ago that Serling felt that the quality fell off somewhat in later seasons of The Twilight Zone. Was Serling at all thinking of this episode? Mind you, I don't believe it ought to be considered an inferior episode; yet, it is more blatantly didactic in theme than most of the series. An author might be shy of a didactic piece in his past, even one which is very well conceived and written.

08 March 2011

’nuff said

So I straight away said to the fellow on the phone: We’re TV minimalists.

A pretense to method

The Castelo novo needs a bit more massaging than I had figured.  Still seeking to Make It Work; haven’t come all this way just to come a musical cropper.

The Duke of Madness Motors DVD-ROM mp3 radio reissue commemoralia is already (i.e., upon the audition of but a single hour’s worth) a mind-blowing bonanza.  Finding yet newer admiration for the Four or Five Crazee Guys.

A monophony came to me last night while my head upon the pillow did rest, for use in How to Tell.  My inclination is for a spacious soundscape.  Two of my staunchest fans, though, are clamoring for more . . . activity.  Perhaps Castelo will serve to appease the demands for activity, and I can get away with following my incline.  Not that I am entirely averse to composing into an anticline.

My back-of-the-envelope schema for How to Tell has fairly tight turns to it, so perhaps that will be activity enough.  I feel that if I give this monophony (which will soon become a polyphony) the air it seems to demand, though . . . there will be revision of the schema.  Which of itself is within the Henning method, to be sure.

05 March 2011

This & that

Not anywhere near so numerous as Elton John’s garish eyewear (of course), but I have accumulated more neckties than I probably have actual use for. So I’ve been testing a ‘program’ of deliberately wearing an old tie . . . and disposing of it if that’s what feels right.

Curiously, one tie which I have long felt I want to rid myself of — it has a clarinet on it, but with no mouthpiece, sort of a headless woodwind — I discovered that if I wear it with a sweater, the offendingly forshortened clarinet is out of view, and it makes for an attractive knot.

Unfortunately, not all that surprising:

A very nice tribute from the BSO Concertmaster:

“We’ve experienced some of the most meaningful and endearing musical work of our lives under the leadership of James Levine,” said BSO concertmaster Malcolm Lowe.

04 March 2011

Coming 27.iii.11

Henningmusick in the Back Bay on Sunday the 27th.


Fascinating views of a work-in-progress, and the pangs that circs. were such that the author never brought the work to the place he envisioned for it.

The Lays of BeleriandThe Lays of Beleriand by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyed this very well. The annotations are all good, though I find I need to be in a certain mental ‘gear’ for them.

View all my reviews

Thû laughed: ‘Patience! Not very long
shall ye abide. But first a song
I will sing to you, to ears intent.’
Then his flaming eyes on them bent,
and darkness black fell round them all.
Only they saw as through a pall
of eddying smoke those eyes profound
in which their senses choked and drowned.

He chanted a song of wizardry,
of piercing, opening, of treachery,
revealing, uncovering, betraying.
Then sudden Felagnd there swaying
sang in answer a song of staying,
resisting, battling against power,
of secrets kept, strength like a tower,
and trust unbroken, freedom, escape;
of changing and of shifting shape,
of snares eluded, broken traps,
the prison opening, the chain that snaps.

Backwards and forwards swayed their song.
Reeling and foundering, as ever more strong
Thû’s chanting swelled, Felagund fought,
and all the magic and might he brought
of Elfinesse into his words.
Softly in the gloom they heard the birds
singing afar in Nargothrond,
the sighing of the sea beyond,
beyond the western world, on sand,
on sand of pearls in Elvenland.

(from pp. 230-31)

02 March 2011

Obligatory hand-wringing

In reading program notes for a BSO concert, I am aghast to see Rimsky-Korsakov referred to as Musorgsky's "frenemy."


01 March 2011

Mechanizing some more

A few days ago I quoted a bit from Clive James:

Mechanics of influence are hard to trace. Writers tend to think that the way they write was influenced by literature, and of course scholars make a living by following that same assumption. But a writer’s ideal of a properly built sentence might just as well have been formed when he was still in short pants and watched someone make an unusually neat sandcastle.
To which my esteemed friend Johan objected:

I like Clive James. But I don’t agree. What connects syntax and sand castle is structure. That’s all. There is an analogy. But to learn to write sentences, you’ll have to read a lot and write even more.
I see Johan’s point: whether in writing, or in music composition, there is technique which one learns by analyzing the literature — you aren’t going to acquire the tools by inhabiting pipedreams.

I don’t think that’s quite what Clive James was at. (Of course, the really responsible thing would be if I could find the context of that citation . . . but I ran across it at random, and although I did have a go at trying to find it again — hopeless. Of course, it’s an anthology which I shall read with great pleasure, and I shall find that errant quote again, some day . . . .)

Reading the citation anew, I think it was the opening word, mechanics, which into the works the spanner threw. It was a word which suggested matters of technique; and yet, when James writes of one’s ideal of a properly built sentence, it sounds to me more a question of aesthetics, of style, of tone, rather than of technique. (Of course, I don’t really suppose that we can hermetically seal technique off from aesthetics, style, and tone.)

Then, too, I suppose that my enthusiasm for James’s remark was partly a matter of it eliciting strong memories from my own musical past. To pay the dues to Johan’s point, I learnt a great deal about compositional technique from studying the music of Bach, of Beethoven, of Chopin. Yet the lessons I learnt from those past Masters, does not particularly yield immediately apperent similarities in my own music. (Thus, the question becomes in part a matter of what one means by influence.)

In short, I think (not that this is necessarily at odds with Johan’s response) that one can learn the tools, acquire the mastery by mastering the literature — and then, in finding one’s own artistic voice, one’s own path, throw the past off.

Which does not mean that one has not emerged from the tradition.

To start anew

A morning sunny & cool, with golden light playing on the harbor.

In the spirit of even simple steps spanning seemingly epochal time, I've managed to bring MS. paper with me this morning. Perhaps this was always to be the occasion for the return to composition, the week of our 17th anniversary. Lest this seem a sort of fanfare heralding some bold quest — fact is, I'm starting modestly, with a trio for practical use in May.

How should I wish for greatly (or even much) changed circumstance, when I consider that both the Passion and the Viola Sonata were composed essentially on a bus or in a break room? For I am fond to regard both pieces as musical success. As nearly pure success as I have touched upon, yet.

New listening of late has been largely a matter of either new-to-me recordings of music already well known to me (the Boulez/Bartók Sony reissue box, which I fetched in for a song), or of pieces I've needed to get to know better (Ives' Concord Sonata, Hartmann's Concerto funebre). A set of three Ives pieces for two pianos in quarter-tones is genuine New Listening, though.