Monday, March 26, 2007

The Guard's Question Time II: Fun with Classical Music

Oh shit, quiz time. You know I can't say no. (via Soho the Dog, still my hero) I encourage all of you to play along at home.

1. Name an opera you love for the libretto, even though you don't particularly like the music.

The Consul is pretty brutal, but you really start to feel those three hours.

2. Name a piece you wish Glenn Gould had played.

Rzewski's "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!". Can you imagine what that cadenza would've ended up being?

3. If you had to choose: Charles Ives or Carl Ruggles?

Ives. The end.

4. Name a piece you're glad Glenn Gould never played.

I don't know, Bananaphone? That's not a real answer. Would Vexations be a more real answer? I suppose there's that new kid who writes really awful sappy music, Greenberg or something?

5. What's your favorite unlikely solo passage in the repertoire?

I don't know unlikely it is, but I keep thinking of the part in Symphonie fantasique right before his head gets chopped off. Who needs absolute form when the program tells you where you are in the score?

6. What's a Euro-trash high-concept opera production you'd love to see? (No Mortier-haters get to duck this one, either—be creative.)

A tie between Poppea in the Clinton White House and Peter Jackson's Ring Cycle.

7. Name an instance of non-standard concert dress you wish you hadn't seen.

I almost want to second Steve Drury's leather pants, but their awexomeness overwhelms me. I haven't actually seen the Stockhausen/clarinet/unitard thing, but I've heard news of a lady instituting an unhealthy regiment of diet and exercise because of it so I have to come out against it.

8. What aging rock-and-roll star do you wish had tried composing large-scale chorus and orchestra works instead of Paul McCartney?

Yeah, not Paul McCartney. How about Zappa? Whoops. Did you know that Roger Waters also makes mediocre neo-classical music? Also Stewart Copeland! There was actually a Times article about how when rock stars approach traditional forces they always end up sounding like Haydn (Zappa excluded). I wonder what Robert Fripp would come up with, except he's busy still being a rock star.

9. If you had to choose: Carl Nielsen or Jean Sibelius?

This isn't fair since due to a number of influences I'm starting to go on a Sibelius kick right now.

10. If it was scientifically proven that Beethoven's 9th Symphony caused irreversible brain damage, would you still listen to it?

No way, d00d. I prefer the Seventh anyway, and with my weak to pathetic knowledge of this "classical repertoire" we're trying to talk about here I could probably find some other stuff to listen to.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

You Live In The Universe This Whole Time

Big ol' drought. That was weird, sorry about that guys.

The Conservatory was on spring break this past week and my parents came up while I had some time off, thusly I did all the touristy nonsense that I have neglected in the six months I've been here. It's been great. I actually have a couple stories that the populace might be interested in, but in the interest of actually posting something I'll only tell one (for now).

I've already mentioned twice that I talk a big game about cuisine when I rarely actually delve into details and can barely afford to eat at restaurants that convienently price their items at one dollar each. This could potentially change; I've started to reach critical mass with music blogs (especially the prodigous output of ANABlog and On an Overgrown Path) and rather than prune this extensive forest I've actually retreated to foodie blogs. (Michael Ruhlman and Harold McGee are my favorites at the moment, although Ruhlman is on sabbatical until April. His post has been taken up in his stead by Bob del Grosso and the ever lovable Anthony Bourdain.)

Traditionally this is a fantastic place for one's parents to step in, we did go to some fantastic restaurants. This tale takes place at not the best of them, but at a notable one. We braved the Freedom Trail on Monday (coincidentally the coldest day of the trip) at stopped at Todd English's Kingfish Hall. I personally had no idea who the man was, but my parents proclaimed him as "the guy on Saturday afternoon". If you've ever been to a restaurant titled after a dude in a different city than said dude, you already know how these places roll.

Nonetheless, I was embarassed that I was impressed by some rather entry-level plating tricks. My fries came in an oversized martini glass, the salad was stacked in a layered tower, yes yes. The food was certainly good and very signature chefy, clever variations on familiar themes. But you can tell that this was most likely a Epcot version of the real deal, separated by a few steps from Todd English himself. Like a child who's just learning to crack jokes, it seemed occupied by making sure you knew how clever it was.
However, upon coming to this realization, my dad rather nonchalantly asks the waiter if that's his boss over at the corner table. Sure enough, we have been in the presence of Mr. English the whole time. Alas...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

If I Ran The Zoo: March 11

Such well-laid plans, alas...

Last night I was torn between seeing my friends perform with the Boston Conservatory Orchestra up in Harvard or catching the BMOP concert. I decided against burning bridges.

Luckily, I have no such dilemma tomorrow, one of the two concerts which piqued my interest has the good sense to happen in the afternoon. I do know that I have turned the corner into being a huge music history dork if I am honestly considering going to a concert of Perotin and Ockeghem. And paying money for it! The Notre Dame shit is so rarely trotted out, and it'll probably sound pretty tight in a big church.

Later that evening the Klezmatics are putting some heat under the Museum of Fine Arts. I could pull the double but that would be expensive. However, I am still choked with regret after missing the Bad Plus there two weeks ago.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Barf Barf Barf Barf Barf (but hey! Check #100!)

See Soho The Dog for more information.

But he has delivered unto us a meme, and you know how I do with those. Inspired by Hattogate, the questions posed are simple: Whose performances would you like to be able to pass off as your own, and whose performances do you think you actually could?

The first part is easy. Jason Vieaux. The man has tone that can really only be described as "muscular". Furthermore his technique, while abso-goddamn-lutely incredible, doesn't get in the way of his interpretations.

The second part is way thornier, since any guitarist who has recorded would be greatly slighted being told they sound like me. So I'm going to do that to someone I at least know. David Chidsey and I both studied with master Kevin Gallagher and I think he taught us very similiar lessons, if David perhaps took them a little better than I. I definitely hear the same fiery (if possibly overwrought) interpretations, even if David is way chopsier than I.

One of these days I'll get new recordings out, but for now I'd rather have you all think I sound good.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Alas Papa Joe, We Hardly Knew Ye

I'm finally done with my Haydn seminar, with a touch of a regret and perhaps even a newfound respect for actual Classical music. (I imagine if myself from even a year ago heard me saying that he would try to strike me down. Great vengeance. Furious anger.) I can't say this will result in an upswing in posting, since my upcoming concerto seminar may decide to shank me just as well.

My final project in addition to some devastating illness preventing me from chiming in about the swirling maelstrom of Hattogate, which as of a couple days ago seemed to come to a close with her widower's "shocking" confession. Easily the best concert music scandal since that whatever that happened at La Scala.

I am never one to shy from beating a dead horse, so I ask a question which has probably been answered by I haven't found it yet. Why the hell did it take so long? From what I've been led to believe the limited availability of these discs resulting in them being sought after by some pretty in-the-know people. Did it really take a year after her death for someone to want to listen to it on their iPod?

I have two theories, one slightly more generous than the other. The first, is that Mr. Barrington-Coupe was struck down not by twenty-year old technology but by twenty-month old technology. The technology primarily used today (Gracenote, freedb) discerns what CD you are playing by its table of contents, or the number and length of tracks. Goosing the length of any track by a single second would throw off the dogs in this case. However recently the ability to tag tracks by acoustic waveform matching (MusicBrainz) has come into ascendence. In addition to being really awexome, it's also new enough that those old Concert Artist CDs wouldn't have prepared for it and for it to be concievable that the piano snob sect wouldn't be in the early adopter camp.

Of course, these CDs were probably pretty hot items on the secondary market. Just as Matthew Barney's Cremaster cycle will never be released on DVD, DRM-free files sitting on someone's computer are easy picking. Avarice and greed baby, avarice and greed.