Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Miscellanea

I learned from an old Calvin and Hobbes strip that the reason all those photos taken back in the 30s and 40s are in black and white is that the world was all black and white back then. It's just obvious! I used to think that people talked funny in old movies because, well, people just talked funny back then. But apparently that's not so: that kind of accent was learned. Here, let's go to the video for the explanation:


Dirigible races? Is that like submarine races? Hmm, well now I will have to re-think that whole black and white thing...

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I love my guitar. We have been together for nearly thirty-three years which included one marriage and several girlfriends. So maybe I should get one of these:


Yes, that's right, a Free-standing humidified guitar case in flamed maple and African mahogany. But while practical (keeps the dust off, but humidity up) it seems just a tad too shrine-like...

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Because I just don't know how to not live dangerously and because our furious debate over terrorism seems to have died down, I offer this piece: “Massively Altered” …German Professor Examines NASA GISS Temperature Datasets in which
From the publicly available data, Ewert made an unbelievable discovery: Between the years 2010 and 2012 the data measured since 1881 were altered so that they showed a significant warming, especially after 1950. […] A comparison of the data from 2010 with the data of 2012 shows that NASA-GISS had altered its own datasets so that especially after WWII a clear warming appears – although it never existed.”
So, "man-made" global warming turns out to mean something just slightly different from what we thought.

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From the annals of "that sounds very Canadian to me" comes this quote from Samuel Beckett. When asked "Doesn’t a day like this make you glad to be alive?" He is said to have replied "I wouldn’t go as far as that."

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You may have noticed my occasional lampooning of the Guardian's interview feature "Facing the Music" with its pre-packaged questions and predictable answers. Well, I guess it depends on who is answering. The latest interviewee is Esa-Pekka Salonen and here are some samples:
What was the first record you bought?
Messiaen’s Turangal├«la Symphony, conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Italopop.
If you found yourself with six months free to learn a new instrument, what would you choose?
Theremin, no question.
I'm pretty sure he was having them on with those answers! The next answer to the most hackneyed question of all, specifically designed to stick the big letter "S" on the snobs, is a nice way of saying "no":
Is applauding between movements acceptable?
I don’t mind, except when an expressive silence is broken too soon.
Well, yes, that is why it is better not to applaud between movements.  And he really blew them away with the last answer:
It’s late, you’ve had a few beers, you’re in a karaoke bar. What do you choose to sing?
Either a Finnish tango or the Captain’s cheerful tune from Berg’s Wozzeck: “Wozzeck ist ein guter Mensch, aber er hat kein Moral, Moral, Moraaaaaaal!”
Which they deserved, of course!

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The Guardian has a review of a concert with Lang Lang playing the Grieg Piano Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. They capture his unique style:
You can’t fault his often formidable dexterity, but this was a wayward interpretation that proceeded by fits and starts. The best of it was perversely exciting, but lurching tempo changes threatened to pull the first movement out of shape, and dynamics were extreme to the point of exaggeration in the adagio. There were plenty of characteristic grand gestures and ecstatic glances towards the audience in moments of rapt contemplation. Playing a passage for the right hand alone, at one point, he placed his left hand over his heart and gazed heavenwards.
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I have thought for a while that the Grawemeyer Award for composers is the most well-adjudicated because of the process which involves consulting not only a committee of experts, but also laymen. The latest winner is Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen for his song cycle "let me tell you". Here is the story which includes a brief clip. Here is his Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra:


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Last night I had some musical friends over for Thanksgiving dinner and played for them this piece. They all liked it but were unable to identify the country or composer. They did know it was 20th century, though! This is "L'arbe des songes" for violin and orchestra by Henri Dutilleux:


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