Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Miscellanea

The often-useful Tom Service over at the Guardian has an article up that is such a good idea I wish I had had it: pieces that their own composers disliked. Worth reading just for Beethoven's comment to the critics of his Battle Symphony:

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This link, to Drew McManus's site Adaptistration, has everything you need to know about what conductors get paid--in the US at least. Here are the top 10 by orchestra, you have to track down the music directors' names for yourself:
  1. National Symphony: $2,728,671 (41.02 percent increase)
  2. Chicago Symphony: $2,504,336 (15.65 percent increase)
  3. San Francisco Symphony: $2,364,775 (16.64 percent increase)
  4. New York Philharmonic: $1,717,814 (28 percent increase)
  5. Dallas Symphony: $1,505,052 (82.57 percent increase, but previous season compensation was only for partial season)
  6. Los Angeles Philharmonic: $1,447,049 (1.54 percent increase)
  7. Saint Louis Symphony: $1,012,158 (5.51 percent increase)
  8. Minnesota Orchestra: $944,098 (20.24 percent decrease)
  9. Baltimore Symphony: $930,914 (5.45 percent increase)
  10. Cleveland Orchestra: $907,829 (23.15 percent decrease)
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Via Slipped Disc we discover this fascinating web page: recordings from the British label Hyperion that no-one has purchased in the "longest period of time". How long? They don't say. Two weeks? Two years? Two decades? Probably somewhere in between. None of these recordings, unsurprisingly, cries out to me, but this one looks sort of interesting:

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I like to thump on the online classical music magazine Sinfini from time to time just because of their annoying blend of pomposity and pseudo-hipster marketing. But sometimes they have a readable article such as this one on the Schubert "Trout" Quintet. We don't get to hear this piece very often because of its non-standard instrumentation: violin, viola, cello, double-bass and piano.

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Annals of Extreme Music Criticism: From the Mail Online comes this story about drum destruction in Libya.

ISIS in Libya have released pictures of armed fighters burning musical instruments as the extremist group continues its propaganda assault in the north African country.
Pictures of the heavily armed masked militants watching while a pile of drums burnt in the Libyan desert were released earlier today - purportedly by the 'media wing' of the local group.
It is understood the brightly coloured instruments had been confiscated by the religious police, and were destroyed near the port city of Derna, in eastern Libya.
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Here is an extremely fulsome article about Melodyne editing software. It is rather like an upgraded Auto-Tune with a lot more processing possibilities. If you want the short version, this software enables musical amateurs with rudimentary technical skills to sound sort-of like generic professionals. How do I mean? Well, the idea is to use software to compensate for the lack of either sufficient discipline to learn musical technique or sufficient talent. We probably can all think of some so-called professional artists who fall into this category. Well, with this software you can conceal these deficiencies but the best result is minimally acceptable generic music. Why? Oddly enough, if you lack both the discipline and talent to master basic musical technique, then you also likely lack the creativity to come up with something new and interesting. Funny how that works...

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The Wall Street Journal has a review of a new Decca collection of the complete works of Alexander Scriabin on 18 CDs. Tempting as it is, I doubt if I will be ordering it soon. Despite my love for Russian music, Scriabin just seems, well, a bit too insane...

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Now here is something interesting: a timeline of all the British contributions to the Venice Biennalle from 1895 to 2015. You can actually watch modern art self-destruct! Progressively! From John Everett Millais, The Ornithologist of 1895:

to Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO of 2015:

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Is it time for Prince? Well, sure, it's always time for Prince. Showbiz reports that he has taken his whole catalog off all the streaming music services including Spotify and Apple. If you follow the link you will find a new song he has released on Soundcloud called Hard Rock Lover. Pretty good, with a mellow accompaniment and screaming guitar. I used to own Prince on vinyl including 1999 (which, despite the title, was released in 1982). I think I had Purple Rain on cassette and Around the World in a Day I might have bought on CD. I liked it better when you did actually own your own recordings instead of merely having the right, maybe, to listen to them sometimes. Plus there is that whole quality thing. If it ain't CD quality, I ain't interested...

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Our musical envoi for today is the Concertino for piano and orchestra by Jean Françaix, composed in 1932:


Marc Puckett said...

'You can actually watch modern art self-destruct!'-- :-)

Bryan Townsend said...