Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Miscellanea

It doesn't get much wackier than this:


Mind you, I don't know if this illustrates the eccentricities of musicians, or of bagpipe players specifically, or if it is really all about a bungee jumper who happens to play the bagpipes. Your call.

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When I wasn't looking Vancouver has developed a quite interesting concert scene. Here is an article on upcoming seasons of Early Music Vancouver and the Vancouver Recital Society. It was in a concert of the latter, many years ago, that I first heard the Piano Trio in E minor of Shostakovich--actually the first Shostakovich I heard in concert. Here is one concert I would love to attend: Schubert lieder in their original early 19th century arrangements for voice and guitar, performed on an historical instrument.

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While we are on the subject, here is a performance of the last song from Die Winterreise, "Der Leiermann" in a version for voice and guitar:


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Norman Lebrecht, master of clickbait, over at Slipped Disc headlines an item Shostakovich: I wish I'd written Jesus Christ Superstar. Best comment: "I think we ALL wish Shostakovich had written it!" Yep.

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An article in the Wall Street Journal introduces Chinese pipa player Wu Man:
Though China looms larger than ever in the news, Americans remain largely ignorant of its musical culture. And while opportunities to broaden our perspective occasionally occur—Carnegie Hall made China the focus of a major festival in 2009 and Lincoln Center has presented various Chinese troupes over the years—rare are visits by ensembles from China’s heartland, where peasant traditions go back generations, if not centuries. Enter the pipa virtuoso Wu Man, arguably the pre-eminent ambassador for traditional Chinese music in the U.S. Born in Hangzhou, China, and educated in Beijing, Ms. Wu, whose four-stringed, fretted instrument resembles the Western lute, relocated to the U.S. in 1990 and has since crossed all manner of cultural boundaries, performing regularly with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and the Kronos Quartet.
There is also a good clip on YouTube about Wu Man and Chinese music. Don't miss the segment on the Taoist band performing joyful funeral music:


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 The latest on the James Levine affair is that the Met finally officially fired him and his lawyers immediately responded with a suit for unfair dismissal. Honestly, you can't make this stuff up. Slipped Disc has, not only the story, but an extended set of entertaining comments.

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For our envoi today, a piece from Shostakovich's lighter side and yes, he did have one. This is the polka from his ballet suite The Golden Age:


9 comments:

Marc said...

For a half-second, it seemed that the fall had extinguished the piping but, no, he kept at it, didn't he. Oh, how many artists (artists, politicians, prelates, op-ed writers and so forth) I've wished to be able to push off into the abyss, ha.

I thought we had established that Schubert's guitar use etc is unproven? (this link goes to an article I recognize having read but there is an independent scholar in Austria whose name I cannot recall who also has dealt with this question, unless of course my memory is playing tricks again) although the program announcement there is, I think, careful to refrain from actually asserting that he played guitar accompanying his own lieder, or indeed that he definitely owned one or more. Don't mistake me, I enjoy the guitar's use here! I imagine that there are some lieder where it 'works' better than with others; perhaps.

James Levine! It's difficult to believe or understand that he is going to court over this: he should be having Te Deums sung that he isn't on his way to prison. But-- one thing I know due in an especial way to the disgraceful contemporary history of sexual abuse by clerics-- people in noble professions can sometimes convince themselves that in their own cases the moral law is abrogated or suspended. Gosh. Terry Teachout at WSJ... well, I read the article this morning, am not sure when it was published... argues that what's his name, Peter Gelb, must resign i.e. that it beggars belief that Met management didn't know about this sorry business and 'decided' to keep silent all these years. Will have to go read the comments at SD.

Marc said...

Do people everywhere not know that English is the world's common language now? (am mocking myself!). Have been listening, the last couple of days, to Gubaidulina's Passion according to St John, and Fredrik Sixten's, but I cannot understand most of the texts, tsk, because of the Russian and the Swedish, nor can I find online English translations. First World problems, I know. Sixten has set the Gospel text itself, so far as I can see, but only the first 19 pages of the score are online; Gubaidulina may set some parts of the Gospel text but there are interpolations from the Liturgy and other sources. Sixten's Johannes-Passionen was recorded only in 2016 (?) but Gubaidulina's is from almost twenty years ago.

Bryan Townsend said...

Re Schubert's guitar playing: notice how carefully I worded it, "original early 19th century arrangements for voice and guitar." All that implies is that there were contemporary arrangements of Schubert lieder for guitar, which there were. But not necessarily by Schubert. He may well have played the guitar a bit, he may even have worked out some initial song ideas on guitar. But anything more than that is speculation. I think that's where the scholarship stands?

Not being able to track down the texts for works like the Passion by Gubaidulina and Sixten does seem a real problem to me. Wouldn't the composer want these to be available in whatever language needed for the listeners?

Marc said...

Yes, you were-- I wasn't, in my reading, tsk. Mea culpa.

One of the advantages of CDs is that generally the texts are included, so there is that: perhaps one needs to buy the recording to... read what's in it. I don't see myself buying either one alas but it's possible that more diligent online searching will find the taxes somewhere.

Bryan Townsend said...

This is one of the reasons why I buy CDs and don't subscribe to streaming services. My latest acquisition, the 160 CD Haydn Edition, does not have any texts with it, but there is a link to a downloadable online pdf of several essays on Haydn plus texts to the vocal works. The whole thing is 106 pages. I am still on the symphonies (up to No. 91!) so I don't know if all the texts are there. I don't seem to see any opera librettos, so likely not.

Steven Watson said...

Marc, I knew I'd seen the text for Gubaidulina's John Passion somewhere, and a quick search of my harddrive and I found this pdf. Appendix B (p. 84) has the libretto. (The rest of the document seems to be an analysis of the Passion. I don't know if any of it would interest you, Bryan?) I uploaded it to Google Drive:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1I6tkMEp54ZH94THdH-NNtVWu8UMlK62i/view?usp=sharing

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, Steven, from both Marc and myself I am sure. I will have a look when I get back to my Gubaidulina posts.

Marc said...

Steven, Many thanks! I suppose since I use Gmail there must be a button for Google Drive around here somewhere. :-)

Marc said...

Lovely! thanks again, Steven; the Gubaidulina Passion is on my Kindle now. Coincidences.... I grew up in Oxford, some thirty miles outside of Cincinnati, and the FM classical music station available there was (and still is) based at the University of Cincinnati, WGUC. So often the chatter of the DJs involved this or that performance or personality at the College Conservatory of Music! and in fact I recognise the name of Mrs Cheng's doctoral thesis chairman, Earl Rivers, for some reason or another that I cannot place.

Yes, must read Bryan's SG posts again with much greater attention.