Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Miscellanea

As part of our "musicians critique other musicians" series (well, we don't actually have one, but it sounds like a good idea) the Music Salon offers Kid Rock on Beyoncé:
“Beyonce, to me, doesn’t have a f---ing Purple Rain, but she’s the biggest thing on Earth. How can you be that big without at least one Sweet Home Alabama or Old Time Rock & Roll?”
Videos, dude, videos!

I'm not quite sure what that is, but I'm pretty sure it has very little to do with music. Y'know?

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I put this satirical commercial up a long time ago, but I think it is worth revisiting--if only for the comment that, with an IQ of 70, you will still be able to write the average rap song. Heh.

At least, I think it's satirical...

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A new World Order album came out in December and I missed it! Who, you ask? World Order is the creation of Genki Sudo, whom I think is on his third career about now: champion mixed martial arts, essayist and now musician and dancer. I think he writes the songs, and he definitely invented the synchronized martial arts style dancing. This is some of my favorite pop music. And in the videos no-one ever feels the slightest need to shake a booty! You may recognize a certain reference to a certain album cover by a certain English group. I give you "Informal Empire" a homage to London by World Order:

And no, there are no special effects.

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Norman Lebrecht's Album of the Year over at Sinfini Music is, inexplicably, Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius on Chandos. I say inexplicable because, well, it's Elgar and it's an oratorio. I never mentioned my album of the year because I don't keep up with new releases, but it would probably be Hilary Hahn: In 27 Pieces, her album of newly commissioned encores that I reviewed at exhaustive length here way back in February of last year. Still, we should give Elgar a listen. The performance starts at the 9:30 mark:

I suppose that is rather nice in an autumnal, elegiac mood. It is strange how much foreboding music and writing was done in the years shortly before WWI. I am reminded of Das Lied von der Erde of Mahler from 1909. It is almost as it they knew what was coming...

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Here is some depressing news: hard to believe,  but the last classical sheet music store in New York--New York!--is closing. The Wall Street Journal has the story. The one I used to shop at, Patelson's, closed in 2009. Last thoughts from the owner, Heidi Rogers: “Everyone says, ‘Aren’t you going to have a party?’ ” she said. “I feel like having a funeral.” And I feel like writing a requiem. Sometimes we forget that just as there are huge new industries growing at a furious pace, and huge new companies like Apple, eBay and Amazon, so too there are venerable industries that are inexorably shrinking and small companies slowly disappearing one by one. Quietly fading away, almost unmourned...

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The New York Youth Symphony has pulled a newly-commissioned work by Jonas Tarm because it contains a quote from the Horst Wessel Lied (the Nazi anthem) and because of the composer's "refusal to explain the work’s context and meaning to justify his use of the material." Hmm, don't know quite what to think of that. On the one hand, yes, the Nazi anthem is offensive, but the idea of censoring a certain sequence of notes seems very odd to me. Slipped Disc has more on this. The composer writes:
I am disappointed and confused by the decision of the president of the board and the executive director of the NYYS to cancel my Carnegie Hall debut. This composition, titled “Marsh u Nebuttya” (Ukrainian for “March to Oblivion”), is devoted to the victims who have suffered from cruelty and hatred of war, totalitarianism, polarizing nationalism — in the past and today.
To emphasize that point in musical form, I briefly incorporate historical themes from the Soviet era and from the World War II Germany. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkSSR) national anthem lasts about 45 seconds and the German Horst Wessel Lied also lasts about 45 seconds in the nine-minute work. This piece was not meant to provoke but to evoke.
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Sometimes it is only in the comments that the truth starts to peek out from behind the mask of political correctness. Case in point, this recent item at Slipped Disc about the renovation of Avery Fisher Hall and the naming rights. Read the comments starting with this one:
Rock is primitive entertainment for people who don’t know better, classical music is an art form who DO know better. Nothing wrong with both but please don’t confuse or mix them.
Answered with this:
As much as I love Mahler, Bruckner, Shostakovitch and Janacek there is nothing that compares with the visceral thrill of hearing Led Zeppelin start “Kashmir” or “When the levee breaks” or hear that opening drum sound of the Stones “Sympathy for the Devil”
It's getting harder and harder to tell what is satire these days...

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No, I'm not going to end this post with Kashmir! Let's listen to an orchestral composition by Jonas Tarm, whose work got pulled by the New York Youth Symphony. Here is Headline Hues: Concerto for Strings with the NEC Symphony conducted by Paul Biss:


Marc Puckett said...

I like Dream of Gerontius myself, although I only listen to it perhaps once every two or three years. You don't, I take it-- am a very new reader, so am not much expert at reading the nuances of your posts. Or is it Elgar in general, or oratorios in general, you dislike? (Perhaps you simply mean that NL's tastes are inexplicable, ha.) Perhaps you meant that there were fifty better candidates for AOTY.

Bryan Townsend said...

Hi Marc, and welcome to the Music Salon. Nice job of hermeneutics! I'm not a big Elgar fan, true. But in this case, I simply wrote the first part of the post, then listened to the piece (well, some of it!) and then left a closing comment. So, I was somewhat won over by the music. Yes, there was the implication that Norman Lebrecht's tastes are somewhat inexplicable and there probably are many better candidates for album of the year. Hey, that was fun!

You should leave some more comments.

Marc Puckett said...

Although it's no longer Friday, did you by any chance read the essay at Nautilus by Jonathan Berger (was linked at Armavirumque), who is evidently one of the great and good, at Stanford, about Schubert's String Quintet and time? 'Hmm' is my considered judgment, but I a m enjoying listening to the S.

Am going now to investigate whether any of your works are on Spotify.

Bryan Townsend said...

No, I haven't, and I can't seem to run down the link. Could you put it up? I'm not on Spotify, nor even YouTube. But if you search this blog you will see a number of compositions that I have posted here. How to make my music accessible is a project that I haven't tackled yet!

Marc Puckett said...

The Berger is at:

Will explore the posts and your music, as I can.

(Did find a review of 'Matteo Carcassi's 25 Guitar Etudes op 60' by or edited by a B. T. who I thought might be you. :-) from years ago.)

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, looks like a great article by Berger. If that review of Carcassi was from a long time ago, it might have been me, though I have forgotten. I did a few articles for Guitar Review decades ago, including one analyzing a Brouwer guitar concerto. I don't even recall everything I did way back then.