Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Miscellanea

Philip Glass turns 80 this month (Steve Reich's 80th was in October) so I guess we can't call him the new kid on the block any more. And according to him, we shouldn't even call him a "minimalist". For an entertaining interview with Mr. Glass, who just wrote his Symphony No. 11, see this Guardian article:
It seems that no one – not you, or Steve Reich, or John Adams – likes being called a minimalist. What do we call you if not that?
Let’s talk about this. The problem is no one is doing minimalism now. It’s music we wrote in the 1970s. It’s over 30 years out of date. It’s a crazy idea to use a description made up by journalists and editors to cover all kinds of music. It’s more confusing than descriptive. What do I really do? Listen to me. I’ve written 26 operas, 20 ballets, I don’t know how many film scores. I write theatre music. I write concert and symphonies too. I’m working on a new film score right now. Then I’ll start a new stage piece. My problem is people don’t believe I write symphonies. But I’m premiering Symphony No 11 in a couple of weeks. These are all different forms of music. Maybe I do too many things.
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Allan Kozinn has a review up of a new album of the music of Mieczyslaw Weinberg directed by Gidon Kremer. Kremer has long been perhaps the most interesting violinist when it comes to repertoire and this album underlines that. Weinberg, as readers of the Music Salon know (the link goes to a post devoted to Weinberg from 2013), was a friend and protege of Dmitri Shostakovich who wrote a great deal of excellent music that has still to make a place in the public consciousness. This album will help.

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Somebody get this man a rhythm section!!

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Here's something you don't see every day: an orchestra comprised entirely of double basses:

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The Wall Street Journal has a review of Daniel Barenboim's ongoing Bruckner cycle by Barbara Jepson:
Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin are in the midst of a historic undertaking at Carnegie Hall: a complete cycle of the nine numbered symphonies by Bruckner that continues through Jan. 29. It is reputedly the first performed in the U.S. during a single season.
One reason for the relative rarity of Bruckner cycles is the challenges these lengthy works present to musicians and listeners alike. Along with richly colored brass chorales, haunting melodies for strings, and orchestral unison blasts, there is a fair amount of overblown or mundane music. The longueurs of the Fifth Symphony’s opening movement, or the scherzo of the First, where the composer takes decent but not particularly inventive themes and repeats them interminably, are just two examples. Brahms’s catty categorization of Bruckner’s orchestral works as “symphonic boa constrictors” contains a grain of truth.
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An envoi of Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica playing Weinberg would make a nice end to today's miscellanea. This is the Adagio from the Sinfonietta No. 2, op. 74:

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