Archive for August, 2006

It is dreadful
to shed blood.
It is hard
to learn to kill.
It is wretched seeing people die,
before their time has come.
But we must learn to kill!
But we must see people die
before their time has come!
But we must shed blood,
so that no more, no more blood shall be shed.

Bertold Brecht, translated by Mari Prockauskas

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During the first four weeks at Greenwood there wasn’t much time to do much else, as things begin to end, a few things.

My time has largely been occupied with Loeffler Quartet, second movement, Tschaikovsky First Quartet, first movement, Lee Hyla Anhinga, Dvorak E major Quartet (#8?), first movement, Beethoven Op. 127, first movement (hard, hard, hard, hard), Nico Muhly You Could Have Asked Me, Schubert A minor Quartet, first movement, Ravel Quartet, second movement, and Haydn
Quartet, Op. 71, No. 3, first movement. It’s all kept me pretty busy. I think all of it ended up going quite well. The Loeffler, Muhly, and Hyla are being done again on Saturday as part of the final concerts. The very final concert on Sunday afternoon, conducted by Julian Kuerti, along with the Beethoven 6th Symphony, the Overture to Cosi Fan Tutte, and Mozartiana by Tschaikovsky (not in that order), will include the first performance of Shades of Green by Julia Carey, which was commissioned by Greenwood.

A while ago, I can’t remember which week, the whole camp went to a concert by the Yellow Barn Festival in Amherst. The concert included two piecews by Fred Lerhdahl, a duo for violin and piano and an oboe quartet. I liked the oboe quartet and the first movement of the duo quite a bit, the second movement, less so. The performances were terrific, at least as far as I could tell.

Last week I went to hear the triple bill of operas at Tanglewood, which included the first American performance of What Next? by Carter. I had mixed feelings about it all. Most annoying was the fact that they didn’t seem to have taken all that much care about making the words clear, so everything had a certain shroud of mystery about it. The Carter, which was, after all, written to an English text, gave me the least problem from that standpoint, the Stravinsky the most. There were a bunch of cross references between the works in the staging, which I found annoying, since clearly the only reason those three pieces ended up being done together was that they were all short–so the cross references were gratuitous and kind of silly. The Hindemith, to somebody who’s not at all a fan, just seemed stupid. The Stravinsky is sort of strange and problematic. The Carter had lots of beautiful music (especially, I thought, the piano music (accompanying Rose?), some bassoon music associated with Larry or Harry, and especially the percussion music at the beginning which returned at least once). I think I would have liked it better, though, if it hadn’t been supposed to be an opera. I couldn’t tell that, at least in this case, staging it did anything at all to enhance the experience. I found myself wondering if a completely realistic staging might have been more effective. Never having seen the movie it references, I can’t quite imagine how they relate, nor can I estimate how much more I might have got out of it if I had seen the movie. All in all I didn’t find it to be a completely satisfying evening.

I have been listening to the new New World disc of music by Eve Beglarian, which I enjoy alot–all of it. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is lively and engaging, moving through a number of different musics to end with Es est genug, on which, I have a vague notion, all the music is based on; certainly the section immediately before the chorale is. Creating the World is also kaleidescopically free associational, covering a lot of styles and references, including quotations from the Vivaldi Gloria and the Missa Solemnis, ending with a sort of cosmic Jerry Lee Lewis stomp, all of it accompanying a wonderfully flamboyant (if not hammy) recitation by Roger Rees. I’m not sure if Linda Norton intended her poem Landscaping for Privacy to be some sort of equivalent to the Curious Sofa by Gorey (or Presciocilla by Stein), but the way Beglarian reads it on this disc, it certainly seems to be. I haven’t fully got into FlamingO beyond noticing what I finally realized was a quote from Music for the Theatre by Copland. Skillful, charming, interesting are all words that have come to be used in some sort of evasive or condscending or perjorative way, but in fact all this music is, in the truest and purest sense of those words sillfull, charming, interesting, and intelligent. To borrow a phrase from Milton Babbitt, it’s cultivated music. Amid all that hillarity, Robin Redbreast, a setting of a poem by Stanley Kunitz, sung with almost unimagible simplicity, purity, and honesty by Corey Dargle, is (once again in the true sense of the word) haunting as well as being heartbreaking. This is the kind of disc that you’d give as a present to someone who was really smart and who you really liked. (I know there’s already a review posted–which I haven’t read–but I wanted to put in my bit anyway).

On of the nicest parts of the summer has been making the face to face acquaintance of Tom Myron, who lives in Northampton and who’s come out for the concerts. Hithertofore he was “merely” a Sequenza21 penpal. It’s been a plasure getting to know him, as well as his wife and his amazingly precocious daughter. (and some of his music).

On Monday, Greenwood over, I’m going to London, where I’ll hear a bunch of Proms concerts. Unfortunately I’ll miss the first performance of a new piece by Julian Anderson which is on Sunday night, but there are a number of other things…

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