Welcome back to myself.
I originally considered returning to this blog a couple years ago and did not follow through.
Let's see how this goes with a little steel in the wool.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
For some reason, I like to return time and time again to certain composers and their works. I will obsessively listen to recordings and find new ones adding multiple versions to my iTunes library. As is often the case, the composer might have been one that influenced me during my early years of composition. In returning to their works, maybe years later, I am a different ear. I am a different person and experience it anew.
Shostakovich is very dear to me, yet very time consuming and exhausting. His work is very heavy and delicately complex. I was obsessed with him during the early part of my bachelor's but soon began to branch out to more "kind" waters in the years following. I have grown into his symphonies, memorizing every single beat, and every single recording I own. New ones have recently walked into my library causing a "do-over" effect. It is essentially a rediscovery of his works, through new interpretations. I like to find that those recordings I held a grudge with are actually rare gems.
Yakov Kreizberg's 2006 recording of Shostakovich's 5th Symphony with the Russian National Orchestra started me back on the "Shosty-drug." It is paired (as always) with the 9th Symphony and is presented in SACD format (both Stereo and Multi-Channel). The reviews that I read praised the quality of the SACD technique as well as the orchestra's playing. The interpretation was a little vague in the last movement, but I found it refreshing. It was funny to note that ALL of the reviews complained about the epic tam-tam stroke that seemed to be missing from the recording. The score indicates "fff" for the tam-tam, however, in this particular recording you barely hear a shimmer of its overtones. That percussive whack is so famous (as well infamous) in performance that I find it hard to believe that Kreizberg let the poor chap get away with such weakness. The CD was recorded in a studio in Moscow, which is more like a banquet hall. This lends a tremendous amount of space to the sound as well as a contradictory intimacy. The effects of which need to be experienced to believe.
This led me further into one of his most famous symphonies. I acquired a used copy of Semyon Bychkov and the Berliner Philharmoniker's 1986 performance of the same symphony. May I just say that this one has blown my old favorites out of the water. The energy is so intense that I needed a moment alone after the first listen. The strings are as powerful as they ever were with Karajan. However, the brass and percussion were allowed to become raw walls of terrorizing sound; something Karajan would never let them get away with. Bychkov adds, at times, blossoming crescendos in brass and string lines that mimic that of the percussion. The pain and tragedy is juxtaposed against the terror and desperation better than any recording I have heard to date.
Bernstein's 1959 recording with NY Philharmonic was the chosen standard for energetic performance. Even with NY's problems (which are still there) it was a great version to have. Here with Berlin's impeccable performance standards I can rediscover this magnificent 20th century symphonic offering. You would be missing out greatly if this recording remains looked over.
Recordings mentioned & suggested:
Symphony No. 5 in D major, Op. 47
1. Yakov Kreizberg w/ Russian National Orchestra (2006)
Pentatone Classics - Hybrid Multichannel SACH (approx. $20 US)
2. Semyon Bychkov w/ Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (1986)
Philips Masterworks Label - ($17 US)
3. Leonard Bernstein w/ New York Philharmonic Orchestra (make sure! 1959, the other 1973 is horrible) Sony Classics Label - Bernstein Century Series ($10 US)
4. Christoph Eschenbach w/The Philadelphia Orchestra (2006, LIVE)
Ondine Hybrid SACD - ($30 US)
Monday, April 20, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
In class we have been going over Expressionism, Impressionism, and photography. Early in its birth, photography seemed to lack a defining "style" or "period." It did not seem to earn a place in the art historians' annotations until the 20th century. The juxtaposition of impressionism and photography is startling. Photography being the most absolute representation of vision. Impressionism is fleeting, often vague, and meant to give the emotion of the vision than its purpose or detail.
I have found a bridge in a modern photographer: David Hockney
He utilizes a great number of collages that take on the architecture of the space... multiple representations of subjects through time almost move like a film. Its parts culminate in a total experience of the scene. The detail of photography with the spirit of impressionism.
David Hockney. Christopher Isherwood talking to Bob Holman #3. 1983
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Charles Pierre Baudelaire, (9 April, 1821 - 31 August 1867) was a nineteenth century French poet, critic, and translator. A controversial figure in his lifetime, Baudelaire's name has became a byword for literary and artistic decadence. At the same time his works, in particular his book of poetry Les Fleurs du mal, have been acknowledge as classics of French literature.
May his decadence live on!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I find this strange & mysterious power that is held over the switch from PC to Mac overrated. It borders on comedy to see countless youtube videos of computer geeks and nerds that have made that cross over. They begin filming the event as soon as the box is opened. They gingerly pull out the slim-lined, well designed box that is intended to inspire and protect it's precious contents. They comment on the experience while opening and pulling up the lid. It is as if there were a ray of blinding sun light waiting to shine out once the cardboard separated. They stare in awe and terror of the sleek aluminum body, while the iconic apple logo begs to be illuminated. They pull the Mac out, inspect the contents of the box, still narrating their experience. They open the computer and let the one-time-only "Welcome" experience begin. One dork even turned the lights out...
So while these nerds are not getting laid or drinking their first beer, they are filming a simple purchase of a computer. Not just any computer, but reputedly the best brand out there. I do not want to hate on the excitement. But youtube is a little too far...
It will be a week ago last Friday that I opened my baby up... I am still thinking of a name for her... I even took the package to work with me so I could stare at it (because I worked all day). The newness has not worn off, probably never will... I love my new MacBook Pro. ;-)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Well, I would like to report on my presentation for a class, Psychology of Creativity. The presentation itself went off without a hitch. The problem began when class drew toward a close, the students became restless. I knew that the material selected to conclude the presentation was deep and required attention. Looking back, I should have just dropped it. However, I put my faith in my fellow students--they let me down. Teacher evaluations had to be done, and while was setting up for a clip of his opera, Lady Macbeth, they started the forms. This was fine... but they continued to chatter even through a rape scene. This startled me beyond my wildest fancies. HOW in the hell can you ignore something like that. No disgust, no interest, no attention at all. I have lost some hope, but I will still fight the battle.