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BOOM'S DUNGEON
Boom
Much of what is in this blog is related (sometimes only tangentially) to art music. Occasionally I use insensitive language in referring to various arrogant or incompetent assholes who managed to get on my nerves. If you're squeamish about such language, then stay away from this blog. To contact me, use boomboomsky at gmail dot com.
274 Entries

The above image comes from a brief scene in Woody Allen's film Irrational Man (2015), where one of the principal characters gives a piano recital at a small college auditorium.
     Assuming Woody Allen had not become senile by the time he made this film, I can think of only one plausible explanation for what seems to be an embarrassing display of cultural illiteracy by one of America's distinguished filmmakers.  Allen simply liked this particular composition of the scene and decided that viewers who insist that the purpose of a raised piano lid is to project sound toward the audience can go fuck themselves.

10 months ago | |
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No, not that Milton.  I am giving up on the music of Milton Babbitt.
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10 months ago | |
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A superbly produced HD video of a 2015 concert performance of Elliott Carter's Clarinet Concerto (1996) by Moritz Roelcke and the young musicians of Orchester der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste conducted by the German-based American conductor Jonathan Stockhammer.  The highest 1080p video quality (choose by clicking on "HD" icon) comes with a 256 kbs AAC audio track which sounds vastly more realistic and natural than any of the currently available commercial studio recordings of this concerto.

Usually I find watching performances of serious music a total waste of a sensory modality, but in this case the visual experience enhances (if slightly) the theatrical aspect of Carter's musical design.  Throughout this concerto's seven short movements Carter pairs the soloist with different instrumental groups, and the soloist has to move around the stage (during brief orchestral interludes) to play each movement standing next to the designated instrumental group.
10 months ago | |
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Just saw the news that Pierre Boulez died yesterday.
No other conductor did more for the cause of  contemporary music in the past half century.
I will miss his formidable intellect on the podium.
10 months ago | |
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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

11 months ago | |
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The conductor Kurt Masur died today.  Some will remember him because they own his mediocre recordings.  I will remember him as the pompous asshole who, in 1996, embarrassed the New York Philharmonic by stipulating that a work commissioned by the orchestra from Elliott Carter would be performed only if he (Masur) personally approves it.
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11 months ago | |
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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.

11 months ago | |
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Does one have to be a Pole or just plain fucking nuts to sit through a full-length piano recital (see below) 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.
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21.00 Special piano recital
Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall
Maria João Pires Maria João Pires (piano) - Portuguese pianist - soloist and excellent chamber musician, appeared all over the globe with all the major orchestras. more »

news Julien Brocal (piano) - French pianist more »

PROGRAMME:

Fryderyk Chopin

  • Nocturne in B flat minor, Op. 9 No. 1 Op. 9 No. 1
  • Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9 No. 2
  • Nocturne in B major, Op. 9 No. 3
  • Nocturne in F major, Op. 15 No. 1 Op. 15 No. 1
  • Nocturne in F sharp major, Op. 15 No. 2
  • Nocturne in G minor, Op. 15 No. 3 Op. 15 No. 3
  • Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1 Op. 27 No. 1
  • Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27 No. 2
  • Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1
  • Nocturne in F sharp minor, Op. 48 No. 2
  • Nocturne in B major, Op. 62 No. 1 Op. 62 No. 1
  • Nocturne in E major, Op. 62 No. 2 Op. 62 No. 2
1 year ago | |
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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.

1 year ago | |
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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.
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1 year ago | |
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