Classical Music Buzz > BOOM'S DUNGEON
BOOM'S DUNGEON
Boom
268 Entries

Dialogues for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (2003) was one of two Elliot Carter's compositions conducted by Lorin Maazel during his tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic.  (The other was Variations for Orchestra.)  Given Maazel's well deserved reputation as a superlative technician, it is not surprising that his June 2006 performance of Dialogues, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as the soloist, is technically flawless.  Alas, technical polish alone does not guarantee  a musically satisfying performance; and in this case the orchestral playing struck me as being too chilly to do justice to the playfulness of Carter's music.  (Perhaps the very closely balanced and rather 'internetish' sound quality is partly responsible for this impression.  The recording came to me without any information about the broadcast's source and method of capture.)
     Still, Maazel offers a fascinating alternative to the more humane performances conducted by James Levine (with Aimard and Boston Symphony) and Daniel Barenboim (with Nicolas Hodges and Berlin Philharmonic).  I thought that adding this New York broadcast to my blog on December 11 would be a fitting way to celebrate Carter's 107th birthday.

8 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

Does one have to be a Pole or just plain fucking nuts to sit through a full-length piano recital with nothing but Chopin's nocturnes on the program? This being Warsaw, and with Chopin being the only Polish-born composer of universally acknowledged genius, I can understand the collective lunacy of the audience as a masochistic expression of patriotism.  But I can think of no excuse for the (sadistic? delusional? dim-witted?) pianist Maria Joao Pires who has maintained a decades-long career with tidy, small-scale performances of the same two-three dozen pieces, all written before 1850 and learned by her in early childhood.  If there ever will be a poster announcing the death of classical music, I think this poster may well have Ms Pires' face on it.
8 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

Well, maybe not a cure but, in my case at least, a very effective remedy: the gentle and surprisingly sweet Clarinet Quintet composed by Elliott Carter in his 99th year. 

Recorded live in Strasbourg on July 3, 2013, the affectionate performance by Armand Angster and Ardeo Quartet made me forget not only my sore throat and clogged sinuses, but also my earlier encounters with the studio recording by Charles Neidich and the Juilliard Quartet for whom this piece was originally written.

9 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story
LIFE Magazine, Nov. 22, 1943, reporting on the fee for first performance rights paid by Columbia Broadcasting Corporation for Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony


The first performance rights fee of $10,000 [1] paid in 1943 for Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony may not seem impressive in relation to a single concert fee of $3,000-4,000 commanded in the 1940s by top performers like Vladimir Horowitz and Jascha Heifetz [2].  However, when compared to the typical first performance fee of $100 paid at that time for the music of American composers [3], the Shostakovich fee seems downright astronomical.

I have never encountered an explanation of this shocking disparity, but I am sure it cannot be explained by supposing that the princely sum paid for Shostakovich's symphony was a deliberately over-generous show of support for the music's role as a symbol of  struggle against Nazism.  Such an explanation would be doubtful for at least two reasons.
Read more »
9 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

... Stravinsky, Hindemith ... I have issues with them, but they’re not the same issues that I would find with the so-called contemporary composers of the late 20th century.  Elliott Carter, it was kind of pathetic what he was doing after 80 or 90 years.
The American composer George Walker speaking about his musical contemporaries, "In the life's coda, master composer George Walker has a symphony in mind", Geoff Edgers, The Washington Post, August 22, 2015.
____________

I congratulate The Washington Post for allowing a black composer of serious music to prove to the world that, in America, one can be a certified asshole without being an uneducated white Republican voter.
10 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

The American Association for the Advancement of Learning has decided that the mathematical language of physics is too difficult for today's students to understand.  In order to attract more students to science majors, the Association recently announced that, over the next three years, it will commission 36 physicists to translate all of basic physics into plain English, so as to make the discipline accessible to the widest possible audience.
     A typical example of proposed translations considered by the Association is the differential equation known as Newton's Second Law of Motion translated as
If you push harder, the damn thing will move faster.
***************
The above announcement would be easy to dismiss as yet another absurd and unfunny mental burp of Boom's deranged mind if it weren't for this very real news item in today's New York Times:

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has decided that Shakespeare’s language is too difficult for today’s audiences to understand. It recently announced that over the next three years, it will commission 36 playwrights to translate all of Shakespeare’s plays into modern English.  ...  Other venues, including the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the University of Utah and Orlando Shakespeare Theater, have already signed on to produce some of these translations.  (James Shapiro, "Shakespeare in Modern English?", The New York Times, October 7, 2015.)

Since 'modern English' beloved by 'today's audiences' is rapidly becoming Twitterglish, I expect the announced translations, when published, to look something like this:

How is my fantasy about translating physics into 'accessible English' more absurd than this reality?

10 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

The 2013 Russian law against propaganda of so-called non-traditional sexual relationships criminalizes distribution of visual and reading materials

... causing minors to form non-traditional sexual predispositions, notions of attractiveness of non-traditional sexual relationships, ... or imposing information about non-traditional sexual relationships which raises interest in such relationships.

As with most things Russian, there is a palpably surreal aspect to this piece of legislation.  After all, this is the country where propaganda posters and photographs of political leaders from its still cherished Soviet past include images like these:
Read more »
10 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

And why not?  Although v2  and  p are both irrational real numbers, the former is a lowly algebraic number while the latter is transcendental.  Surely that is enough for v2  to envy and hate its much hyped competitor!

Before you decide that I have completely lost it, let me point out that the above ascription of emotions to numbers is no more imbecilic than ascriptions of emotions to temporally organized pitches (along with durations, timbres, and amplitudes) which constitute a piece of music.  A recent example of this dimwitted psycho-musicology can be found in The Guardian (Sept. 24, 2015) where one Kate Molleson had this to say about the music of the Spanish modernist composer Christobal Halffter (italics mine):
   
He lived in Spain during the Franco regime and his music burns with the desire for non-violence and human rights.

Why a newspaper that employs competent and perceptive music critics like Tom Service would give space to vacuous babbling of a fucking retard like Ms Molleson is beyond me.  But so long as Ms Molleson continues to receive regular paychecks from The Guardian, I hope she gets to write on other subjects as well.  This way the world may learn that because Isaac Newton was abandoned by his mother at the age of three, his laws of motion burn with the resentment of parental neglect.  Or that because Alan Turing was gay, his mathematical model of computation - the Turing Machine - burns with the desire for handsome young men.

10 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

A few days ago I had to give my students a very informal explanation of the notion of logical possibility: an entity or a state of affairs is 'logically possible' if its description does not involve a logical contradiction.  As usual, I started with a trivial example.  I said:

"I'll tell you the beginning of a story - just a couple of sentences - and then I'll stop and ask you if I should continue because you accept the beginning as describing something that is possible.  So, yesterday I was at a garage sale where I saw a coffee table in the shape of a square circle, i.e., the shape that is both a genuine square and an honest-to-goodness circle.  I bought this coffee table and brought it home."

Then I stopped and asked if I should continue.  One student, a cheerful young woman, immediately raised her hand and declared "No!"   "Good," I said encouragingly. "Now tell us why not?"   "Because who on earth would want to buy such a weirdly shaped coffee table!"
11 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

According to Einstein's Special Relativity theory, the length of moving objects shrinks in the direction of motion.  The faster a thing moves, the shorter it becomes. 
I suppose this explains why I always have more legroom in my car than in a fucking airplane.?..

11 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story
21 - 30  | 123456789 next
InstantEncore