The Knife

Apr. 3rd, 2013 06:14 am
The Knife has a new album out. I discovered them via way of vocalist Karin Dreijer Andersson, when I could not get enough of her collaboration with Röyksopp.

Here's the new album streaming via soundcloud:

Here's the Röyksopp single:

This year will see not only a film adaptation of On the Road, but also one about Big Sur my favorite Kerouac title:

Also, Bowie isn't the only one with a new album out, after 14 years, Dead Can Dance's new offering can be streamed from their website. Haven't listened to it, yet:
I went to St. Martin's rose-themed Christmas concert last night. It's saying something that the music I would really like to share with you is of limited availability online. The real center piece of the evening, though, was Hugo Distler's Die Weihnachtsgeschichte (1933) a 40 minute piece that tells the Christmas Story as a choral piece with solos and tied together with 6 variations of 'Es ist ein Ros entsprungen' ('Lo how a Rose').

The experience was lovely, but a little weird, as Distler's music often is for me. (Fans of German church music often put him in the tradition of Henrich Schütz (1600s) ... another one of my favorites.) Listening in the cathedral with the music washing over me... I can't describe it really, except to say, I have been able to really sit with the Christmas Story this year in a way I would not have been able to do in years past.

There are probably a very limited number of persons interested in listening to the whole thing, but the clips aren't as good as this full presentation on youtube. So if you want to sit with it, here it is:

I told Brother about visiting the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit and he switched almost immediately to one of my favorite designers John Paul Gautier. "He's been doing some really weird stuff lately," he said.

"He always does weird stuff," I said, but realized I hadn't checked in on the latest collections.

Clips behind the cut... )


Feb. 18th, 2012 06:15 am
So, I never noticed this before, but here is the overture to Mendelssohn's Melusina (very popular legend in the 19C; I wonder why?):

And here is the overture to Das Reingold

They are using the same intervals. But of course Mendelssohn does the usual structured thing. While Wagner... you can hear the revolutionary things he's doing with music just by listening to this overture. I will let you in on a secret. It is this overture which made me decide I must see the entire opera. One chord building over 4 minutes it was almost more excitement than I could stand. Who wouldn't want to know what happens next?

Lute Hero

Dec. 18th, 2011 08:58 am
Ellen Hargis & Paul O'dette, one of the premier vocal/lute duos in the US, will be guests on St. Paul Sunday this weekend:

In the meantime, this catchy French tune from their Xmas album (embedding disabled):

I swear I can hear him working in parts of "Bring a Torch Jeannette Isabella" in there at about 1:43.

And also... here is O'dette doing variations on the Chacona. A must-see if you're interested in that weird post about the Chacona earlier this year, which takes a New World Renaissance dance craze and traces it all the way to Led Zeppelin.
Cappella Romana is a Pacific Northwest based group specializing in Slavic & Byzantine polyphonic repertoire. They are good and there are not very many choirs in the US singing this material. They will be performing one of my all-time favorite choral works, Rachmaninoff's Xmas Vigil in the Portland/Seattle area in January. If you're in the area, I highly recommend you check them out. They have done a lot of work with Colorado-based composer Richard Toensing who composes a great deal of music in the Orthodox style. (And makes his liturgical music freely available for in both Western & Byzantine notation.)

Holiday enthusiasts, might be interested in his Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ available in segments on youtube.

But if you listen to just one thing today, here is my favorite piece from the Rachmoninoff's service, Simon's Song or 'Let Thy Servant Depart' about the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple. He is blessed by Simon & Anna, two very old people who have waited all their lives for the birth of the messiah. Forty days after Xmas also happens to be my birthday. So this story has always had special meaning for me. You can just hear the yearning in the music.

Seriously, what would you give to be sitting in the middle of those sound waves.

If music in liturgical context interests you, Colorado residents should probably be made aware of St. Augustine's, an Orthodox church with Western rite, which is dedicated to celebrating the full Latin mass with music. My father used to play for their orchestra on holidays and it is really something to behold.
"I'm not a robot, I'm a unicorn!" this catch-phrase in chatbot conversation heard on a radio is doubly funny because I am in the middle of Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (loaned to me by [ profile] kung_fu_monkey) which appears to have both robots AND unicorns as a prominent plot points. By p116, I'd already figured out that the 'map' of the Town resembles the diagram of a brain. And the whole computational brain has only become further highlighted by the Feynman graphic novel, which I'm sorry to say I did not like as much as I'd hoped. I wanted this to be the Understanding Comics of QED, but it heavily insinuates that one of Feynman's primary points is that NOBODY gets it and that our knowledge and work in the arena is like a vanishing point, we can get really close to that point without ever actually being there. Also the probability bits were interesting. I think a decent class on stats might do me a world of good.

Read more... )
From his essay 'Infernal Machines' regarding the effect of recording on music (particularly classical):

He talks about how much recording has impacted performance style, making everything quiet, more somber, more perfect, then says...

In at least one area, performance style has undergone a sea change. Early music long had the reputation of being the most pedantically "correct" subculture in classical music, but in recent year the more dynamic Renaissance and Baroque ensembles --- Jordi Savalls Hesperon XXI, William Christies Les Arts Florissants, Rinaldo Alessandrini's Concerto Italiano, and various groups led by the violinist Andrew Maze and the keyboard player Richard Egarr, to name a few --- have began exercising all the freedoms that have gone missing from modern performance. They execute some notes cleanly and others roughly, they weave around the beat instead of staying on top of it, they slide from note to note when they are so moved. If the score calls fro or expects a cadenza or improvisation, they execute one of their own invention. As a result, the music feels liberated, and the audiences respond in kind, with yelps of joy. Christie has said that his roup is modeled on Duke Ellington's bad of 1929: players amble in and out of the spotlight, adding daubs of color before rejoining the background. If, in coming years, the freewheeling spirit of the early-music scene enters into performances of the 19C repertory, classical music may finally kick away its cold marble facade.
So, I just heard that Gil Scott-Heron is dead, which is a strange feeling, because while I knew who he was, I'm not sure I ever had consciousness he was alive. It's more like he lived in an alternate universe: maybe the 4th world with Sun Ra or P-Funk's Mothership. His best known piece is 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.' I include a link below, watching it invites a kind of cognitive dissonance, because one of the tropes of 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' is a negation of image. He tells you what the revolution will not be: bringing the image to mind and shutting it down. Here we have a reinsertion of the image.

But will it be tweeted? )
Some Sunday morning polyphony. Francis Poulenc is a 20C composer. I know him most for his art song, which my mother used extensively in her recitals. I am not familiar with his other choral works and heard these motets for the first time this morning. The Tenebrae especially caught my attention; it has some lovely dissonance and an interesting bass hum throughout, though the Tristis is also haunting. I think a compare/contrast with Gesulado (who also loved these texts and has an interesting relationship with chromaticism) would be an interesting exploration for another day. Though a warning before clicking: these are not uppers.

Read more... )

On a lighter note, the best Lenten comic EVER!:
Oh heck, now I'm on a roll:

More music behind the cut... )
I love the relatively recent tradition of dragging out Stravinsky's Rite of Spring every year for the Equinox. I'm simultaneously amused that it's become so familiar and listenable after all these years, a cherished classic, as well as excited to hear the chunky rhythms an dissonance in place of what the familiar and soothing music usually played on classical music stations. Not to mention the neo-pagan overtones of deciding that this is what spring is all about. How would Stravinsky feel about it becoming a springtime classic? Well, I know he'd be happy to collect the royalties.

Read more... )
Apparently, I'm not the only one who has experienced this lately:

My brother (who is not schizophrenic) also loves the patterning in Bach. He says he sees geometric forms when he listens to it.

My original post on hearing it:
Yesterday was a rough day and it ended badly.

But today had three good things in it, along with a lot of gratitude for several people who may not know what a godsend they've been to me.

I'm aware I have some catching up to do here, but it will have to wait for some other work I need to complete first.

In the meantime, this comic was the third wonderful thing about today and hit that sweet spot of being incredibly funny and something I care about:

Now all I need is for Ms. Beaton to do a mash-up of Beethoven and Mr. Darcy, the parallels are obvious to me!
This one sideswiped me this morning. Things start to get interesting about 3:27. The tuning in this recording could be a little tighter (all the better to hear the dissonance my dear), but this will give you an indication of what I heard:

I'm still hearing Legeti in there, though Albright (in my opinion) doesn't take it far enough. But he did take on the Chichester commission, not a challenge to be taken lightly for an American composer, especially after Leonard Bernstein's beloved Chichester Psalms.

I've been thinking a lot about 'cognitive dissonance' with regard to sacred music and people's relationships to it. (Bernstein, for example.) I have some stronger words about it for another time.

With regard to the musical dissonance (and I highly recommend clicking on the Legeti link, which I've featured before on last month's post re: Benjamin Britten's A Boy is Born) what I love about the dissonance is its evocative of a kind of terrifying encounter with the sublime. To me this is as much the sound of the sacred (if not more so) as pretty harmonies.

I suspect there could be a tie to negative dialectics here, but I would not presume to explore it without a better knowledge base.
So, for the first time since she left, I got out the piano books and started playing. All I can say is, however easy, these are real pieces, and I am really playing them. The music is there behind my hesitation, misplayed notes and imperfect reading. Then I think about Beethoven's deafness: they told me there is still an organ on which he composed at one of the many places where he lived: you can still see the holes in the console where he ran wires into his ears. I notice the craftsmanship and those tiny turns of phrase that let you know this isn't just another composer: even at it's simplest, it's still Beethoven. He was deaf but he could still hear. My playing is poor, but the music is still there.
For [ profile] melted_snowball:

Today's post at ASIFA (which is consistently one of the most interesting blogs I read) includes the 'boffo' finish from Stormy Weather, a 1941 musical with an all African-American cast. I don't know about you, but when the servicemen get up and dance at the end, it just gets me:

Read more... )
I've finally read Fay Weldon's controversial What Makes Women Happy and I rather liked it. Aunt Fay weighs in on moral reasoning with her trademark wicked wry (rye!) and wit. The last chapters on 'Saints & Sinners' were particularly moving:

Death, bereavement, loneliness and shame: these are the four horses of the modern apocalypse. They circle our new reality, now we are people of the city and not the cave. Their riders, the horsemen, are a fearful lot: they are called despair, depression, isolation and self-doubt. But being so fearful they are easily unhorsed and its simple enough to get out of there way. It's just not nice to find them champing the grasses in your back garden. You need to do something.

What follows is a pragmatic guide to surviving inevitable mortal decay and moral contagion. If being good makes you happy and being happy makes you good a little solipsistic roll in the hay will not go amiss.

Read more... )



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