Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

Let's kick off the miscellanea with a fling--a piano fling to be precise:

You don't see that every day. Wouldn't it have been even cooler if they had flung a 9' concert grand? I believe that the technology they are using is some version of the medieval trebuchet.

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We seem to be in the Age of the Trivial. Ancient philosophers described history as a Golden Age, followed by some lesser ones. According to Wikipedia:
The term Golden Age (Greek: χρύσεον γένος chryseon genos) comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline, sometimes followed by the Leaden Age. By definition, one is never in the Golden Age.

Yes, the Leaden Age is fast approaching. One of the signs is the unashamed triviality of contemporary art. As example, the Wall Street Journal tells us about British artist David Schrigley's monumental sculpture just unveiled in Central Park, New York:

Click to enlarge
Yes, that's a 17 foot tall granite sculpture of a, wait for it, grocery list. He really wanted to remember to pick up a few things and that's why the sculpture is titled "Memorial". Sigh. "Nuts" I say.

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Revisiting the topic of a post from way back that is still #6 on the list of my most popular posts (in the right hand column), here is a New Yorker article about Yuja Wang and how a fashionable young woman piano virtuoso dresses: Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance. The accompanying photo just makes me want to write silly captions! Here is the opening paragraph:
What is one to think of the clothes the twenty-nine-year-old pianist Yuja Wang wears when she performs—extremely short and tight dresses that ride up as she plays, so that she has to tug at them when she has a free hand, or clinging backless gowns that give an impression of near-nakedness (accompanied in all cases by four-inch-high stiletto heels)? In 2011, Mark Swed, the music critic of the L.A. Times, referring to the short and tight orange dress Yuja wore when she played Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto at the Hollywood Bowl, wrote that “had there been any less of it, the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult.” Two years later, the New Criterion critic Jay Nordlinger characterized the “shorter-than-short red dress, barely covering her rear,” that Yuja wore for a Carnegie Hall recital as “stripper-wear.” Never has the relationship between what we see at a concert and what we hear come under such perplexing scrutiny. Is the seeing part a distraction (Glenn Gould thought it was) or is it—can it be—a heightening of the musical experience?
Thankfully, after that teaser, we are treated to a very long and in-depth article that talks about the music, career, how she lives, how she grew up and so on. The New Yorker seems to sense that Yuja Wang is going to be one of the leading pianists of our time. And they might be right. I squirmed a little bit at the direct comparisons between her and Murray Perahia, who is forty years older.

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Somehow I missed this when it came out. Eric Clapton's autobiography was published in 2007.
“I found a pattern in my behavior that had been repeating itself for years, decades even. Bad choices were my specialty, and if something honest and decent came along, I would shun it or run the other way.”
With striking intimacy and candor, Eric Clapton tells the story of his eventful and inspiring life in this poignant and honest autobiography. More than a rock star, he is an icon, a living embodiment of the history of rock music. Well known for his reserve in a profession marked by self-promotion, flamboyance, and spin, he now chronicles, for the first time, his remarkable personal and professional journeys.
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The latest on the trials and tribulations of traveling musicians comes from The Strad. Vueling Airlines forced violinist José Manuel Jiménez García to transport his violin between his knees on a recent flight:

Back in the 70s I actually took a flight with Iberia with my entire guitar, in its case, jammed between my knees. The thing is that it is supposed to be unsafe to have luggage just casually propped here and there: that's why they have the overhead racks--to keep luggage from flying around in case of turbulence!!!

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Here is a quite interesting interview with opera producer David McVicar. Worth reading the whole thing, but here is a sample:
Mozart is like Shakespeare. Mozart is like the world. Every Mozartean character is seen in 360 degrees. Not every Verdian character is. Some Verdi characters are quite flat. You need to flesh them out to find other dimensions. But even Barbarina in [The Marriage of] Figaro is completely rounded and completely convincing as a character. Because I’ve done a lot of Mozart, and I’ve done a lot of the same titles in different productions, and the wealth of detail you can explore and the new things you can discover each time you come back to a piece like Figaro and [Don] Giovanni — it’s remarkable.
Yes, indeed, Mozart is an artist on the level of Shakespeare and the problem with the reception of classical music in today's culture is that the public conception of Mozart is that he wrote that pretty piece Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and made Salieri look silly in that movie. Shakespeare gets much better press--must have a better agent!

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 And for our envoi today what could be more appropriate than to watch and listen to a Mozart opera with those 3D characters? Here ya go, three hours of the best; just like Shakespeare except with music:


Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage Of Figaro)
Paris 1993 production
Figaro - Bryn Terfel
Il Conte d'Almaviva - Rodney Gilfry
Susanna - Alison Hagley
La Contessa d'Almaviva - Hillevi Martinpelto
Cherubino - Pamela Helen Stephen
Don Basilio/Don Curzio - Francis Egerton
Marcellina - Susan McCulloch
Dottor Bartolo - Carlos Feller
Antonio - Julian Clarkson
Barbarina - Constanze Backes
Music by: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by: Lorenzo Da Ponte
Director - Olivier Mille
Conductor - John Eliot Gardiner


Marc Puckett said...

I never watched many Northern Exposure episodes-- was mostly actually doing things in the early 90s rather than watching television-- but that is a perfect example illustrating why I don't regret not seeing more of 'em-- the leaden figures are multiplying into every place we let them, indeed. You saw that there is a 'real gold' (was amused to see the discussion at Althouse about how 'real gold' can or cannot be true in this instance & in what respects) toilet at the Guggenheim in NYC these days?

John Adams is conducting the Berlin Philharmonic tomorrow (ten in the morning Eugene time...) in his Harmonielehre and then his new Sheherazade.2, with Leila Josefowicz-- I'm looking forward to that. The BP were giving away free ten days' use passes to their live streaming service in July? and I saved mine for this.

Bryan Townsend said...

I confess that I have never watched a single episode of Northern Exposure. I only actually owned a television for a few years between 1991 or so and around 2000. Watched JAG and Buffy, Homicide: Life on the Street and, of course Star Trek TNG. I watched an episode of that recently and, oh dear, how painfully politically correct it is! Pretty much unwatchable these days.

Yes, the Adams does sound interesting. Let us know your impressions.