06 August 2018

In this weekend's horserace, it's Koechlin by three lengths

When I was down in double-yuh D.C.,
Certain folks were not glad to see me;
I was just tryin' to get out the vote,
But some little weasel musta dropped 'em a note.
It said, "Check out the politics practiced by this oaf,
And if they ain't just right, feed him confinement loaf."

– Frank Zappa (1988)

The golden and silver fish haunted the river, out of the bosom of which issued, little by little, a murmur that swelled, at length, into a lulling melody more divine than that of the harp of Æolus–sweeter than all save the voice of Eleonora.
– Edgar Allan Poe, "Eleanora"

Silence was now commanded by Master Simon;  but it was difficult to be enforced, in such a motley assemblage.  There was a continuous snarling and yelping of dogs, and, as fast as it was quelled in one corner, it broke out in another.  The poor gipsy curs, who, like errant thieves, could not hold up their heads in an honest house, were worried and insulted by the gentlemen dogs of the establishment, without offering to make resistance . . . .
– Washington Irving, "The Culprit"

I have to be honest:  If I don't get my way, the system is rigged.
Porridger's Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

In listening to a few musical works absolutely new to me over the weekend, the magnificent take-away was undoubtedly La Méditation de Purun Bhagat, Op.159 by Charles Koechlin, an utterly enchanting 16-minute tone-poem, in every way the artistic match of Les Heures persanes, Op.65 and Vers la voûte étoilée, Op. 129.  I can see already that I have much more sonic joy to discover in this composer's œuvre.

To be filed under New – yet, not all that new, really:  the eighth and final disc in the Pierre Hantaï box is an all-Telemann affair, the CD misleadingly titled Essercizii Musici, since only some (and an apparent minority) of the pieces are in fact from that collection.  I may have noted earlier in this blog that the booklet includes quite an airy-fairy "imaginary interview with Telemann," which I think must make even Telemann enthusiasts cringe a bit.  All of it is (as I know to expect from this box) beautifully played, and much of the music is strikingly good.  If a "but" belongs here ... at about 40 minutes' worth of listening, I reach the "crawling up walls" stage.  I reserved tracks 16 through 28 for listening the following day, sure that I would then enjoy them just fine.  But right then, half-way through the disc – my ears needed relief.

Back in Completely New to Me land, I gave Boulez's Le Visage nuptial a spin.  This less-than-simple composer, far-less-than-easy character hardly invites a simple thumb's-up or -down.  So . . . I liked it, yet there were stretches when (in an almost Boulezian refusal to give the composer an even break) my face nearly formed into something like a smirk.  For much of it, I was feeling that I should give Zappa much better credit for the orchestral numbers in 200 Motels.  And in the titular movement, I applauded Boulez fully for his shrewd plundering of Les noces.  I shall indeed go back to the piece and should, gradually, be able to listen to it more nearly on its own terms.  But, again, all that said, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And not at all new, but I listened (again) to the revised Prokofiev Fourth Symphony (Op.112) from the Kitajenko set on Capriccio.  This performance/recording may prove equal to the Ozawa in my esteem.  While I do not feel that there is anything about the original Fourth Symphony which required any "improvement," this expansion acquits itself tidily.  I want, almost out of habit, to append the thought that I'm glad a three-movement, revised Second never happened ... but even if it had, we should still have the original, as well, right?  For the first time in my life, I find myself regretting that we don't also have a revised Second Symphony.

A 'virtual friend' asks:  Just out of curiosity what would you like from a revised second? Would you have it toned down or fired up even more?

Given the context (the composer's health . . . the fire gone out from his belly, perhaps . . . a workaholic musician whose energy was at the last worn down by The System) I expect that what we should have got, would have been a toned-down Second—which, I suppose I am only now discovering, is nevertheless an artifact in which I should take keen interest.  Would I wish a Second that was yet more stern?  Perhaps, like the Fourth, what I might have liked is an expansion, pretty much keeping character.

In other non-news, still haven't heard anything from the ACO call.  Will we hear from Rapido! before a decision is reached in the ACO call?  Will there be a delay in the Rapido! Announcement?  For the answers to these and other thrilling questions, tune in next week . . . .

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