Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

The Well-Tempered Clavier and Other Music

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Well-Tempered Clavier and Other Music

    Whenever I visit a forum, I check for a music section or thread:
    • The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I and Book II by Bach. Alexandra Coghlan does a good job describing how monumentally difficult what Schiff does is:

      Imagine an actor playing Hamlet. Then imagine him also taking every other role in the play as well – from memory, without an interval, alone on stage in front of an audience of thousands. That is what it means for a pianist to perform the complete Book II of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier at the Proms.

      24 Preludes and Fugues – almost three hours of intricate, inventive, elusive music – played as a single, continuous gesture is an almost unthinkable feat. But if we fetishize the spectacle of the thing, the musical circus, we miss the point of this thoughtful, sober, even understated performance by Andras Schiff.

      This isn’t the Hungarian-born pianist’s first solo Bach experience at the Proms. Last year he introduced Book I to the festival audience for the first time, and before that performed the complete Goldberg Variations. But Book II is a different beast. Harder, longer, knottier both in conception and execution, pushing the pianist still further. You only have to listen to the difference between the C major Preludes that open each book; the untroubled waters of Book I are ruffled and agitated in Book II, our starting point for this epic musical journey suddenly unclear.

      Playing a bright, resonant Steinway rather than his usual Bosendorfer (a concession to the vast space of the Royal Albert Hall), this was Bach with more boom and bloom than we’re used to from Schiff, but there was no expressive indulgence or romanticising to go with this broader tone. He used the pedal only sparingly – to give us the organ-like splendour and sonority of the E major Fugue, for example – and rhetorical intervention still more so – just the tiniest of flexibility in the aria-like C sharp minor Prelude offered a contrast to the unfussily metronomic delivery that dominated.

      As the cycle progressed and harmonies convulsed and coiled more tightly, rhythms shifting left of centre in fugues that straddle precariously across the beat, Schiff found new energy and clarity, always offering his audience a string through the musical maze. There was seriousness, undisguised complexity here, but also play – the ingenuous, nursery-rhyme innocence of the F major Fugue, the trickling sweetness of the G major Prelude. Here was all of life, and it was exhilarating, confronting and, ultimately, consoling – a musical meditation for our troubled times.


      You can find the rest of her article here.
    • Die Dreigroschenoper by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (The Ballad of Mack the Knife) is one of the most attractive songs I've heard in a long time.
    • Priez Pour Paix by Poulenc. Another attractive bit of opera.
    • I'll Be Home For Christmas by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent. This is sung by the baritone John Brancy. I meant to include it in my list of Christmas tunes a few months ago.
    Lest people think that because this is a philosophy forum they can only post music from genres like classical and opera, here are some other tunes I like:
    • Rumors of Spring by Carolyn Leonhart. How someone from Northern Canada usually starts to feel around this time of the year.
    • Autumn in New York by Carolyn Leonhart.
    • Alice by Tom Waits. I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like Tom Waits. Apparently he's associated with hipsters. I like him anyway.
    • Funk Flex Freestyle by Mysonne. I realize that there are dangers posting rap (Vallicella channels Aristotle about this somewhere on his blog), but I think rappers are also almost the only musicians talking about some issues. Listen to this one at your own discretion.
    • Alles wird gut by Bushido. Germany got bars too.
    • Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver
    • Pancho and Lefty by Willie Nelson
    Last edited by John West; 03-03-2019, 04:34 AM.

  • #2
    Anton Bruckner didn't compose symphonies. He created cathedrals of sound. His adagios are the best introduction. The Sixth Symphony contains one of towering tragic grandeur, perhaps even greater than Beethoven's funeral adagio in the Eroica(!!) The Zen Buddhist conductor, Celibidache, is the only one who actualized its shattering potential. I've owned at least 25 versions over the years. They call us Brucknerds. (Listen to the first movement. Bruckner was a huge influence on John Williams. Do you hear what I hear?)

    Klemperer is The Dude for Bruckner's Seventh. (Fun fact: he was Colonel Klink's dad. His Beethoven is mandatory.)

    There is nothing like the Eighth Symphony. The impotent tools of language should be tossed aside here. The adagio is a world within a world.

    Bruckner begged G-d to let him finish his Ninth Symphony. G-d complied. Only three movements were necessary. This is the best performance of that dark night of the soul. (Furtwangler deserves an honorable mention.)

    If spending time with Bruckner isn't on your bucket list your list is incomplete. (And Mahler. This is an amazing survey of his work.)


    In the category of killer rock songs with Biblical themes :

    Samson and Delilah: "If I had my way, I would tear this old building down."

    "Just a song of Gomorrah. Wonder what they did there. Must have been a bad thing ..."

    Estimated Prophet is either about Deuteronomy 13 or I saw it live a few too many times. (About 100 shows between 85-95. I'd trade all my tomorrows for another run at Alpine Valley.)
    Last edited by Bamidbar 22; 03-05-2019, 04:37 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      On the Eccentricity of Bruce Springsteen: Case Studies & Analysis

      An Artist's perception of his own work can resemble Bizarro World. Consider The Boss. Some of his "greatest hits" were never released. Artists can be their own worst critics, especially perfectionists.

      This catchy gem had Top 40 potential in the way Pearl Jam's biggest hit was Last Kiss. They share a vibe. Yet it missed the final cut. This is why some of us endured Indiana Jones-like odysseys to acquire Springsteen bootlegs back in ye Olden Tymes, before everything was released in box -sets of outtakes.

      Rendezvous was never included on a studio album. Seriously. It's Badlands-tier. Thundercrack is primal, wacky, and MIA. Once you process that Santa Ana was a mere demo you'll be ready to entertain conspiracy theories or Freudian hooey as explanations. Wait. You're still at base camp. The next example is a doozy.

      Stolen Car is, IMHO, Springteen's greatest moment in the studio. (AKA Son You May Kiss the Bride.) Life-changing. Art. "No matter what I do or where I drive nobody ever sees me when I ride by" captures a chilling sense of life's transitory, ghostly quality like James Dean stopping at A Clean, Well Lighted Place. Yet the version that landed on The River could most charitably be described as filler. What. was. he. thinking.

      Unsatisfied Heart is as rough as rough drafts come. Haunting story: "Once I had a home here. My salvation was at hand. I lived in a house of gold, on a far hillside. I had two beautiful children, and a kind and loving wife ... One day a man came to town, with nothing and nowhere to go. He came to me and he mentioned something I'd done a long time ago." Achingly beautiful chorus. What could this have become? Why would you abandon this?

      The "official version" of Racing in the Street isn't even a shadow of this ... masterpiece. (Clearly some of the lyrics hadn't jelled.) There's an urgency, a fury, a sense of desperation, a magnificence never surpassed by anything on Darkness on the Edge of Town.

      The River should have been a triple album. Restless Nights is a surfin' safari. Depriving the faithful of Loose Ends was theft. Grab a towel. Clarence's solo will melt your face.

      Johnny Bye Bye was a b-side with a stone-cold groove few tunes attain. 112 seconds of Satori.

      The studio version of Incident on 57th Street contained, only in embryonic form, The Beast it became live.

      I met Springsteen after a solo acoustic show in 96. I paid a few weeks' wages for a seat in the orchestra pit. Paul Molitor was in the front row behind me. I teased him about having a crappy seat. I told Bruce, "You know how you just made a concept album inspired by The Grapes of Wrath? You should do one based on Duck Soup." He laughed. He's always laughing.

      Comment


      • #4
        Your writing style reminds me of Jay Nordlinger's 'Impromptus' column in the National Review. That's a good thing, by the way.

        Comment


        • #5
          Dang. Outed again. I never wanted to write for that liberal rag. I wanted to help The Boss. If I'd been at the helm, turkeys like Born In the USA and Hungry Heart never would have seen the light of day. The plot thickens. What became of these:

          Janey

          Because the Night

          The Promise

          In what fallen, twisted world is Stray Bullet an "outtake"?! This is Stolen Car-tier. (UPDATE: My favorite Springsteen song? By the second verse you're in Cormac McCarthy territory. How's that for synesthesia. Allegedly it sounded too much like Point Blank. To the contrary, Point Blank, is reminiscent of Stray Bullet.)

          Back In Your Arms

          Did Springsteen consider Hungry Heart & Born in the USA better songs than the ones I've cited? That's like Shakespeare preferring Titus Andronicus to the rest of his plays.
          Last edited by Bamidbar 22; 07-02-2019, 05:41 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            I owe you for introducing me to Bruckner, Bamidbar.

            Nocturnes

            A nocturne is a musical composition meant to be played at night, around 11:00 PM. Contemporary Fairy TalesMiscellaneousNext time, Wagner.
            Last edited by John West; 04-02-2019, 02:31 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by John West View Post
              I owe you for introducing me to Bruckner, Bamidbar.
              Great parlor game (or thought experiment). Just as there's a Library of Babel that contains every possible book, there's one with musical compositions. You can pick one and only one. What is it? For me it's a piano concerto by Bruckner or Mahler. Why didn't they write any? My favorite Classical music anecdote: Bruckner taught at the conservatory where Mahler was a student. One day he barged into a class, grabbed Mahler and took him to a private room and played something amazing he'd just composed. The day Icarus fell from the sky was just another day too. I have private arguments for Theism that include the premise Bruckner's music exists.


              Sundry


              The Voyager Golden Record does not include Un Poco Loco. #BringItBack

              Shiva on drums

              Bowie's existential masterpiece no one's ever heard


              Requisite Reggae


              Wanted Dread & Alive

              Tosh & Jagger Don't Look Back

              Burning Spear ... mandatory

              International Farmer

              Bob live in 1979

              Reggae Shark
              Last edited by Bamidbar 22; 07-07-2019, 04:34 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bamidbar 22
                Great parlor game (or thought experiment). Just as there's a Library of Babel that contains every possible book, there's one with musical compositions. You can pick one and only one. What is it? For me it's a piano concerto by Bruckner or Mahler. Why didn't they write any?
                I've scrapped three different replies to this. I'm going to have to think about it. It sounds like you're a lot more knowledgeable about classical music than I am, though.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bamidbar 22
                  My favorite Classical music anecdote: Bruckner taught at the conservatory where Mahler was a student. One day he barged into a class, grabbed Mahler and took him to a private room and played something amazing he'd just composed. The day Icarus fell from the sky was just another day too. I have private arguments for Theism that include the premise Bruckner's music exists.
                  Your anecdote and some of nojoum's comments about vegetarianism remind me of a paragraph from Cosima Wagner's diary:

                  Coffee with Prof. Nietzsche; unfortunately he vexes Richard very much with an oath he has sworn not to eat meat, but only vegetables. Richard considers this nonsense, arrogance as well, and when the Prof. says it is morally important not to eat animals, etc., Richard replies that our whole existence is a compromise, which we can only expiate by producing some good. One cannot do that just by drinking milk—better, then, to become an ascetic. To do good in our climate we need good nourishment, and so on. Since the Prof. admits that Richard is right, yet nevertheless sticks to his abstinence, Richard becomes angry.

                  Nietzsche hated ascetics, but was one.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by John West View Post

                    Your anecdote and some of nojoum's comments about vegetarianism remind me of a paragraph from Cosima Wagner's diary:

                    Coffee with Prof. Nietzsche; unfortunately he vexes Richard very much with an oath he has sworn not to eat meat, but only vegetables. Richard considers this nonsense, arrogance as well, and when the Prof. says it is morally important not to eat animals, etc., Richard replies that our whole existence is a compromise, which we can only expiate by producing some good. One cannot do that just by drinking milk—better, then, to become an ascetic. To do good in our climate we need good nourishment, and so on. Since the Prof. admits that Richard is right, yet nevertheless sticks to his abstinence, Richard becomes angry.

                    Nietzsche hated ascetics, but was one.
                    Dude, you're having me laughing on the floor! Good one!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by John West View Post
                      I've scrapped three different replies to this. I'm going to have to think about it. It sounds like you're a lot more knowledgeable about classical music than I am, though.
                      I might just go with more Bruckner.

                      (What amazes me most about Bruckner is his consistency. With other composers, I have clear favorites. With Bruckner, every single piece blows me away.)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Somewhere in the Musical Library of Babel there's a version of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis where the violin solo in the Sanctus is much, much longer. (I had a friend who insisted the Solemn Mass wasn't Beethoven's greatest creation; it's mankind's greatest creation. I understand why someone would say that, though I have a sweet tooth for the Third & Sixth symphonies and I'm not sure mankind has a single greatest accomplishment.)

                        I'd also be on the lookout for another Triple Concerto. It's one of the coolest things Beethoven composed. Mozart had a great one too. (They go by different names but it's the same structure.)

                        Originally posted by John West
                        With Bruckner, every single piece blows me away.
                        This is how it begins. I knew a Brucknerd who had over 70 versions of the Ninth Symphony. He sought advice about paring it down. I discouraged him: "A perfect version must exist. If it didn't exist it wouldn't be perfect. Keep looking!" When you're in the depths of it these arguments start to work. I've also experienced OCD with Mahler.

                        Dumb joke: Bruckner didn't compose 9 symphonies; he composed one symphony nine times. (11 actually. There's two practice ones.)

                        Everyone likes the Fourth. Celibidache discovered secrets by slowing it down, especially the last movement. This approach is not without detractors. This isn't Mozart's Requiem. It's Celibidache's. And I prefer it. (Not so much his EMI Beethoven. You can't slow Beethoven down should have been the eighth Noachide Law. If one took The Big B's time instructions literally in the Fifth Symphony, for instance, it's thrash-metal fast.)

                        At the premier of Bruckner's Third everyone in the audience bailed - except Gustav Mahler. He alone recognized the visionary genius. The Third could be seen as a Symphonic Manifesto. Nobody was ready for it.

                        Speaking of otherworldly adagios, the Second is often overlooked. And the Fifth. Even Denali seems indistinct next to Everest and K2.
                        Last edited by Bamidbar 22; 04-07-2019, 05:01 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Somewhere in the Musical Library of Babel there's a version of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis where the violin solo in the Sanctus is much, much longer. (I had a friend who insisted the Solemn Mass wasn't Beethoven's greatest creation; it's mankind's greatest creation. I understand why someone would say that, though I have a sweet tooth for the Third & Sixth symphonies and I'm not sure mankind has a single greatest accomplishment.)

                          I'd also be on the lookout for another Triple Concerto. It's one of the coolest things Beethoven composed. Mozart had a great one too. (They go by different names but it's the same structure.)
                          The triple concertos reflect my taste in classical when I was younger, as do Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and Arioso. The work of the impressionists, like Debussy's Épigraphes Antiques, Ravel's Jeux d'eau, and Lili Boulanger's D'un matin de printemps, better reflects my tastes in the last few years. (I still like Bach et al., of course.) I couldn't stand the impressionists when I was younger. I feel like my tastes are shifting again.

                          This is how it begins. I knew a Brucknerd who had over 70 versions of the Ninth Symphony. He sought advice about paring it down. I discouraged him: "A perfect version must exist. If it didn't exist it wouldn't be perfect. Keep looking!" When you're in the depths of it these arguments start to work. I've also experienced OCD with Mahler.
                          Another thing that strikes me about Bruckner's work is how complete it is. He has soft, peaceful moments. He has soaring adventure. He has everything. He's amazing.

                          Everyone likes the Fourth. Celibidache discovered secrets by slowing it down, especially the last movement. This approach is not without detractors. This isn't Mozart's Requiem. It's Celibidache's. And I prefer it.
                          Here is George Shearing's slowed down version of Kurt Weill's Die Moritat von Mackie Messer. Compare it to the original. I like both, but I've probably listened to Shearing's version more.

                          Here is another attractive piece by Ravel for no reason in particular. (I'm not sure non French speakers will get quite the same effect. I hope so.)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by John West View Post
                            Originally posted by Marcel Proust
                            As though the musicians were not nearly so much playing the little phrase as performing the rites on which it insisted before it would consent to appear, and proceeding to utter the incantations necessary to procure, and to prolong for a few moments, the miracle of its apparition, Swann, who was no more able to see it than if it had belonged to a world of ultra-violet light, and who experienced something like the refreshing sense of a metamorphosis in the momentary blindness with which he was struck as he approached it, Swann felt its presence like that of a protective goddess, a confidante of his love, who, in order to be able to come to him through the crowd and to draw him aside to speak to him, had disguised herself in this sweeping cloak of sound. And as she passed, light, soothing, murmurous as the perfume of a flower, telling him what she had to say, every word of which he closely scanned, regretful to see them fly away so fast, he made involuntarily with his lips the motion of kissing, as it went by him, the harmonious, fleeting form. – In Search of Lost Time
                            My favorite writer on the subject of music, what it's like to fall in love with a "little phrase," how your life derives some of its meaning from their otherworldly abstract existence.

                            The Bach CD you'd have to pry from my cold dead fingers. Good thing it's on YouTube.

                            Originally posted by John West View Post
                            I feel like my tastes are shifting again.
                            Someone said you'll listen to no new music after you're 35. I speak for myself: that's false.

                            I assume most philosophers are into Buckethead, at least potentially if not in actuality. Come for the face-melting guitar, stay for the nun-chucks and robot dancing. He’s just a normal guy in interviews. Note his use of the kill-switch. What in the world! He could have played in Ozzy’s band but he refused to remove the bucket and mask. Not sure you can fake eccentricity like this. Yes, he’s eliciting those sounds from a guitar. Saw him live a few years ago. Lost: one mind, last seen during his Hendrix-take on the theme from Star Wars. If found, PM me.

                            Moby Dick, now in convenient song form. An onomatopoeia of a band just when I'd lost my faith in metal.

                            Thom Yorke's favorite song. Like Cindy Lou Hoo all grown up. In a Jazz combo! With the Sugarcubes. As rare, sharp, original, and brilliant as any diamond.

                            49 Bye Byes is CSNY’s grooviest tune, which puts it high on the list for grooviest overall.

                            Necessary Neil: Powderfinger and Cortez the Killer. Hearing them live I wondered if the arena might collapse and thought it wouldn't be the worst way to go.

                            In the misunderstood lyrics file: I thought they were singing “Virgil” instead of “Bertha.” Some moments in life are less than optimal for Dante allusions.

                            If you’ve never heard Patti Smith’s Teen Spirit you’re been riding the train to Squaresville, daddy-o.

                            Moar food-related tunes by jam bands!

                            Dire Straits had a cult-like following long before Brothers In Arms. They still do. “Life’s just a rollerball. Skateaway. That's all.” (Fridays featured Michael Richards’ proto version of Kramer.) Flashes of ego-dissolving radiance when you least expect them. Where I grew up not liking DS cast doubt on your soul.

                            A song about lizards. A song about bouncing. Calling Bob Weaver. He was more multi-dimensional than the Kenosha Kid that tour.

                            Hear Simply Dylan do Changing of the Guard and Precious Angel (his best Christian tune?)

                            A jam pierces the nihilism of Lou Reed’s Endless Cycle, transforming it.

                            Most Underrated Stones Tune? (Besides Hand of Fate.)

                            If this is cultural appropriation thank G-d for it.

                            M.E. Defies all stereotypes about “New Wave” being soulless synth pop. Heck, so does Devo.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So, I was listening to Celibidache's interpretation of Bruckner's 9th last night, and I couldn't help but wondering what it would sound like just a bit faster. Do you have any recommendations? I understand that Celibidache's version of the 9th is a bit slower than most others'.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X