Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

Let's start with some Mozart! The Wall Street Journal has a review:
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival continued its 50th-anniversary celebration last week with semistaged concert performances of two Mozart operas, both featuring the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, a superb period-instrument ensemble. The first, on Monday, was “Cosi fan tutte,” featuring the cast and conductor of this year’s Aix-en-Provence Festival production. Even without the reportedly controversial staging of Christophe Honoré, which relocated the piece to 20th-century colonial Africa and added disturbing racial elements, the performance was tight and vivid. Conductor Louis Langrée, who is also the music director of Mostly Mozart, led a fleet reading that emphasized the comic, even sardonic, qualities of the opera, rather than its heartbreak of lost illusions.
"Even?" Especially? Honestly, you don't have to #&%\¿ -up a Mozart opera in order to stage it.

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Here is an announcement about a new book on musicology with forty (40!) dissenting comments. Lots of fun is had by all.

In case that doesn't quite reveal what the book is about, here is the blurb from Amazon:
Just Vibrations bends our collective ears toward the vitality and precarity of optimism, dependence, and reparative agendas in academia and in daily life. William Cheng calls for a radical embrace of interpersonal care as a core--as opposed to extracurricular--component of intellectual labor. In the event we break, who will rush to criticize and who will stop to offer aid? Should our voices crack, who may take pains to listen all the more closely? Traversing the resonant archives of reindeer games, personal impairment, scholarly strife, queer hope, and accessible soundscapes, this book advocates for care work as a barometer of better worlds.
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Hat tip to Norman Lebrecht for alerting me to the new Mozart Complete Edition. With 200 discs, 2 hardcover books, 5 books of tracklists, new Kochel catalogue guide and 4 art prints, this is way more complete than the last complete Mozart with only 170 discs. The list of artists is impressive: Mitsuko Uchida, Bryn Terfel, Florian Birsak, Cecilia Bartoli, Andras Schiff,  and a host of others. The only drawback I can see is that it won't be released until late October and the price is $480 USD.

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Before we leave Slipped Disc, there is one more interesting item: Atonal music is a form of musical terrorism which is a translation of a portion of a comment by Jacques Attali:
Je crois personnellement que la musique atonale est une impasse, elle ne correspond pas à la nature même de l’audition, elle a constitué une tentative de « terrorisme musical » qui ne correspond pas à la nature profonde de ce qu’est la musique. En dehors de ça toutes les musiques qui sont à l’intérieur de la gamme, et en particulier la musique indienne, mais avec des nuances tout à fait considérables, méritent d’être prises au sérieux.
As always, the extensive comments are what are really worth reading!

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 Sadly, I only discovered these performances long after they took place, in May. The Bard goes bare: The Tempest performed naked in New York:
On top of a hill in New York’s Central Park about a dozen women flit about naked, as two more play a pagan folk tune on the violin and acoustic guitar. The sunlight is slowly disappearing, and murmurs of the oncoming cold are quieted as on the makeshift stage, a storm erupts.
This is an all-woman, fully nude, abridged adaptation of William Shakespeare’s final play The Tempest, performed in part to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. Produced by the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society (they go by Topless Book Club for short), this is the first of two consecutive performances.
 That "pagan tune" on the violin and acoustic guitar is what really interests me, of course!

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This is the strangest thing I have read all week: one poor fellow in England died from playing the bagpipes! Usually that only happens from listening to someone playing the bagpipes (heh!). But no, here is the story in the Washington Post: He withered away for 7 years. Doctors didn’t realize his passion was killing him.
Tests conducted on the man’s bagpipes found a slew of fungi and yeast living inside the musical instrument.
Inside the air bag was a mixture of Paecilomyces variotti, Fusarium oxysporum, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa, and Penicillium species. In a petri dish, they formed a psychedelic swirl of green, orange and red mold.
There was pink yeast on the instrument’s mouthpiece as well as fungi on the neck, chanter, chanter reed, chanter reed protector, bass drome and tenor drome, researchers found. Even the bagpipe carrying case had mold inside.
The moist, airtight bagpipes made an ideal home for the spores.
Unknown to the piper, who was not named in the study, every time he played his instrument, he was inhaling a mixture of mold that caused his illness.
Always keep your instrument clean!

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Our envoi today will be my version of a pagan tune for violin and guitar. This is "Surreal Reel" from my four pieces for violin and guitar:


Christine Lacroix said...

Really enjoyed that. When are you releasing a recording?

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, Christine! My plans have gotten rather delayed for a lot of complicated reasons, but I will be putting something out sooner or later!

Marc Puckett said...

Yes, Heidi Waleson at the WSJ isn't uniformly sensible and excellent, is she? The MMF people made a wise decision to have the FBO without the awful Honoré production.

Thanks for pointing to that Attali post at SD; am listening to Jérôme Ducros's Collège de France lecture later on (there is a version dubbed in English; otherwise it'd take a week, for me). Was prompted by the SD thread to look about for information on John Borstlap-- one sees his comments there regularly, ahem...-- and was pleasantly surprised to discover that he is not only a curmudgeonly commenter. Am listening to the first part of the first movement of his Violin Concerto; very pleasant.

Oh, I see that Professor McClary is implicated in the 'personal care musicology' only by her forward to Dr Cheng's book. Doubtless they are both wonderful people but, as you wrote, lots of fun is had by all. Pft. :-)

A lovely performance of Surreal Reel! (Am boycotting PayPal for some reason that I cannot immediately recollect but did purchase the Four Pieces score just now, only to find included free the audio download. Thanks.)

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks very much Marc! You and Christine between you are giving me great incentive to get some recordings out!