Latest additions and reviews

9 September 2016

Finally uploaded my Amazon.com review of Boulez’ Structures for two pianos from May 2016, my first and small dip into reviewing the music of Boulez. I had wanted to transfer it here since I had posted my review of Fitkin’s CD on Argo, Slow-Huoah-Frame, because therein I made a passing reference to Structures.

Boulez’ music is going to be a major Himalaya to climb, and I’m going to do it only when I can really devote time and concentration to it. I guess I could have met Boulez if I had really wanted to. But then, you always think you’ve got plenty of time and that people are eternal, until one day you realize they weren’t, and that day it’s too late, of course. I wonder if that’s true with me, too…

New review of Ming Tsao‘s CD on Mode, “Pathology of Syntax”. Very interesting and original, exploring the threshold between “sound” (or even “noise”) and “music”. Biut I take exception with the fact that Ming Tsao is described, in the biographies that I’ve found, which all presumably derive from himself, as “Chinese-American”, which first led me to think that he was born in China and then established in the United States. No, he’s 100% American, born in Berkeley California. Yes, I know, I know, it’s a very bizarre American thing to need to qualify one’s American-ness by adding an adjective to specify the color of one’s skin: “African-American”, “Mexican-American”, “Chinese-American”. And what do you say for the WASPs? “Caucasian-American” or “European-American”? An what’s an “Indian-American”, a descendent from the natives, or someone whose family came from India? Have they invented “Pakistanese-American” yet (skin color is darker than Indians from India, so there should be a name for it, no?) ?

So how about just “American”, with no distinction of skin hue or origin?

I should upload my recent review of Tarnopolski’s music on Megadisc. That would be one more T and one more Megadisc. And I need to create the composers entries for Kremer’s Nonesuch CD “De Profundis”, which I’ve imported here some time ago. There’s another T among them: Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer. I was looking for info about him and trying to determine his nationality. Long and very “personal” autobiography on his website, but it doesn’t really answer the question. What’s a guy born in a country that was called Yugoslavia and doesn’t exist any more, in the part of the country now known as Serbia but in a small enclave peopled by Hungarian populations, and who left the country with the outbreak of the civil war to establish in France and never went back to his city of birth? His own website doesn’t say that he’s acquired French citizenship, so which passport does he have? Serb?

8 September 2016

Ah! Was able to achieve something today….

Bernhard Gander: “Bunny Games”. Klangforum Wien. Kairos 0012682KAI

…and reposted my Amazon.com review from June 2011 of

Rolf Gehlhaar: Diagonal Flying. Solipse. Polymorph. Rondell. Julia Ryder, Peter Jenkins, Trevor Jones, Roger Woodward. Etcetera KTC 1127 (1992)

Listened to the music of Ming Tsao, “Pathology of Syntax”, on Mode 268, barcode 764593026822. I’d never heard of that composer, just looking at the other offers of an eBay seller, saw that one, listened to the 30″ samples on Amazon, decided to give it a try. Interesting, music at the threshold of noise, or noise at the threshold of music. Now, I need to listen again and find the words…

6 September 2016

Very little time for music today. Just a comparative listening of three different versions of Yun’s Königliches Thema for solo violin. No new review yet.

Re: my post from September 4 re: that novel by Gabriel Josipovici, “Infinity” (in fact the full title is “Infinity – The Story of a Moment”) and the conjecture that the character may have been inspired by Scelsi: indeed he was. See the review in The Guardian.

Great news from the Isang Yun Society !

5 September 2016

No listening, no reviewing, not much done today, at least not much that’s visible. I’ve spent a lot of time working on the text of presentation that should appear under the tab “About”. Once again, it’s turning out to be a long text (because there is a long history and many reasons that lead to this website). Something like “My adventures in Amazonia (and how I got out if it)”.

I did have time to listen to Yun’s “Fanfare & Memorial”, though Magnificent piece, writte for large orchestra (and played by the Berlin Phil under Maazel, a live recording), typical Yun. Took notes for the future review. Two other works on the CD, with some comparative listening to do. Time time time.

 

4 September 2016

posted my review of:

20th Century Portraits: Isang Yun Chamber Music  (Novellette, Piano Trio, Duo for cello & harp, Sonata for violin & piano). Kolja Lessing (violin), Walter Grimmer (cello), Holger Groschopp (piano), Maria Graf (harp), Roswitha Staege (flute). Capriccio 67 116 (2005)

Good deed done.

Funny, a few days ago I had this pervert blast of listing all the B-composers in my collection – a lot of them! – and today I read in the newspaper the review for a book, by Gabriel Josipovici, “Infinity”, the story of an imaginary, self-conceited, Italian composer, Pavone (seen and recounted by his butler, Massimo), who finds no value in any music or any composer before him, and one of Pavone’s pronouncements is quoted (I’m translating back from French, so this might no be accurate with the original English: “Britten is a disaster. Dallapiccola a disaster. Nono a disaster. Berio a disaster. Bussotti a disaster. Did you ever notice, by the way, Massimo, he said, how many composers have names that begin with letter B?”

Sure, I noticed. And Cs, and Ds, and Ms, and Ps, and Rs and Ss. I need to chekc on Gs and Ts. As I said in my earlier post, there’s still a little place for the extremes in the world of contemporay music, As or X-Y-Zs.

Maybe this Pavone is inspired by Scelsi.

Brought over from Amazon my review of Lauren Newton: Filigree. hatOLOGY 519 (1998). She’s an American avant-garde Jazz vocalist, more active and noted in the German-speaking countries than in the US. Not my habitual listening, but, as usual, one thing led to the other. Not a recent listen either, but I needed to put up the CD after writing down the info about the other releases from the label, HatHut, an interesting Swiss label specialized (besides avant-garde jazz) in the 20th century avant-garde. Many releases of the so-called “New York School” (Cage, Feldman, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff), of Rzewski, Scelsi, Ustvolskaya, Stockhausen, and more.

3 September 2016

Since I’ve been preoccupying myself with Isang Yun, I thought I’d transfer my old review of the atrocious music of Rolv Yttrehus. Which reminds me that my discography of the Louisville Orchestra is a candidate for upload – whenever. Looking at the Ys in my collection I’m also reminded that I also reviewed (not very enthusiastically) a CD of Richard Yardumian, which I should carry over as well.

I’ve been looking again at the very complete discography hosted by the International Isang Yun Society and spotted a few other CDs of interest – including one that seeing it on the list reminded me that I had it: the Yun CD by the Schönberg Ensemble of Reinbert deLeeuw, part of the great tribute to the ensemble published by Etcetera in 2006, and which I am fortunate to have. So I’ve added it to the discography on my introductory Yun page.

Since I’m doing the Ys – very tractable, the Ys: in classical music as opposed to philosophy, there’s a very finite number of Ys – I pulled out of my shelves the double-CD set from Camerata, “The Age of Birds”, works of Takashi Yoshimatsu, 30CM-178-179. I chanced on this set a number of years ago in the “real” store, I’m not familiar at all with Yoshimatsu, his fame seems not to have crossed the borders of Japan, but the music is absolutely beautiful, sweepingly lyrical, without stooping down to vulgar sentimentalism as contemporary music that tries to be “beautiful” often does. Another blatant contradiction to the ignoramuses who claim that “beauty” has disappeared from classical music since the deaths of Britten and Shostakovich. I need to review that set. I haven’t been very inspired in writing the reviews of the couple of Yun CDs I’ve listened to these last few days. It’s the introduction I find difficult to write, I’d like to try and avoid simply cutting and pasting again the intro used in my upteenth previous Yun reviews and… it’s just hard to invent something new when really you want to say exactly the same thing: that Yun is a great composer who invented a uniquely personal and uniquely beautiful style, both highly demanding and achingly lyrical. Well, I guess that can function as my intro.

2 September 2016

Completed my Isang Yun Introductory page with more discographic information (listing the CDs I’m still missing, which makes the page a fairly complete Yun CD-discography. Missing, so far as I can tell, are only those collection CDs which I don’t have and which include this or that piece of Yun). Compiling that discography yesterday, I realized that the Isang Yun International Society had released, over the years, 10 CDs of  Yun, including some repertoire not available elsewhere. Those CDs have a limited circulation and only very few of them are listed on the Amazons or offered on eBay, which makes them even more a fatal attraction for the record collector and Yun admirer. I just wrote to the Society to inquire if I could purchase them. And I bought a couple more CDs of Yun on Amazon (two were selling cheap enough) and a couple from Eybler, in the wake of my listening of yesteday.

All the while, listening (also in the wake of my Eybler from yesterday) to Cherubini’s Requiem in C minor, which I had received yesterday in the same shipment (the recording by Christoph Spering on Opus 111 OPS 30-116, barcode 3386700301164). It confirms that there has been an infinite amount of beautiful music written over the ages. I won’t review that one soon, I don’t think. As with Von Suppé’s Requiem, I’d need to do serious comparative listening (I haven’t checked if this is the same Requim as recorded by Toscanini and Muti), and it’s not on my plan in the immediate future. Too much vying for one’s attention and time.

1 September 2016

posted a review of Eybler’s Requiem. That one wasn’t on my working plan – it’s just that I received a new shipment of CDs today from an eBay seller, and I had no idea who this Eybler was, I bought the CD out of curiosity and to benefit from postage rebates on combined shipment, so I decided to give it a cursory listen while attending to other things. Well… it certainly engaged my attention.

I looked at the discography of Eybler. Well – once again, it’s both exhilarating and frustrating. There’s a very respectacle number of recordings – again, sooooo much music vying for one’s boundless attention but limited time. Most of them, though, are sold on the marketplace at prices that are slightly above what I’m willing to pay for my numerous purchases. I can wait.

Eybler’s Requiem brought back to memory the one by Franz von Suppé, which I had heard many years ago – well, I guess it adds up to decades now – and found very memorable, and have wanted to listen again ever since. So I did, pulled out one of my pending versions from my shelves – by Roland Bader on Koch Schwann 3-1248-2 H1 (barcode 099923124825), a recording made in 1989 but a CD released only in 1996. Yeah, very beautiful, and what makes it stand out is how much of it sounds like Italian opera (a little bit like Rossini’s Stabat Mater). Very powerful, pathetic and dramatic, too – not the music you’d expect from this king of operetta. But I’m not ready to review that one right now, I’d need to buy a few more versions and spend some time on comparative listening. Time time time.

Irksome computer problems today, and I needed to vent that too – It’ll be the first off-topic discussion on this website. So with all that I didn’t tend to Yun today, alas.

31 August 2016

posted my review of Compositions of Isang Yun-3: Muak – Tänzerische Fantasie for big orchestra (1978). Pièce Concertante for chamber ensemble or small orchestra (1976) (Radio Symphony Orchestra Saarbrücken, Chamber Ensemble of the Radio Symphony Orchestra Saarbrücken, Hans Zender). Sonatina for two violins (1983) (Saschko Gawriloff & Akiko Tatsumi). Camerata 32CM-107 (1989)

Listened again to the Piano Trio and  Sonata for Cello and Harp on Capriccio. Superb. That’s my next review.

Completed the list of composers for the Kronos Quartet’s “White Man Sleeps” (and listened again on the occasion).

And, hey, a small step for mankind but a giant step for me and this website: I found the plugin that will enable me to increase font sizes. I really needed that (among many other things). I can easily anticipate that, when I’ve imported my 2,5OO or some reviews from Amazon plus all the news ones that I will post until I get there, the alphabetical list of composers reviewed is going to be so overwhelming that it’ll border on the intractable. Sure, if the reader knows exactly what he’s looking for – “mmmhhh…. let’s see what he’s reviewed of Mahler” – fine, no problem, but just browsing through names of hundreds and possibly thousands of composers to see if something inspires? But there the great classics, Bach, Bartok, Beethoven, Berg, Berlioz, Bizet, Brahms, Britten, Bruckner, and Byrd, and possibly even Babbitt, Balakirev, Barber, Bellini, Berio, Bernstein, Berwald, Biber, Bingen, Birtwistle, Bloch, Blow, Boccherini, Borodin, Boulez, Brant, Bridge, Bruch, Brumel, Busoni and Buxtehude, will be burried under the mass of van Baaren, Babadjanjan, Bach’s family close and distant, Bacewicz, Backhofen, Bacri, Badings, Baer, Baerman, Baird, Baker, Bakfark, Balada, Balakauskas, Balanescu, Balbastre, Balcy, Baley, Ballif, Balsis, Banchieri, Bancquart, Bandö, Banfield, Bank, Banks, Banshchikov, Barbirolli, De’ Bardi, Barkauskas, Barlow, Barnard, Barraqué, Barraud, Barrière, Barry, Bartholomée, Bartkevieiûté, Bashmakov, Bassani, Bassano, Batchelor, Bates, Bateson, Battistelli, Bauld, Baur, Bayer, Bax, Bazàn, Bazelon, Bazzini, Beach, Beaser, Bedford, Beck, Becker, Belmonte, Benda, Bengtsson, Ben Haïm, Benjamin, a number of Bennetts, Benson, Bentoïu, Berberian, Berger, Bergman, Bergsma, De Bériot, Berkeley father and son, Berlin, Bernaola, Berners, Bertali, Berton, Bertoni, De Bertrand, Besançon, van Beurden, Beveridge, a number of Beyers, Biggs, Bird, Blacher, Blackwood, Blanco de Nebra, two Blakes, Blank, Bliss, Blitzstein, Blomdahl, Blumenfeld, Bobylev, De Boeck, Boehmer, Boëllmann, Boëly, Boesmans, Boeuf, Boïeldieu, Bolaños, Bolcom, Bon, and Bon, Boni, Bonime, Bononcini, Bonporti, Professor Bor, Borisovas, Borkovec, Børresen, Borstlap, Bortnianski, Börtz, von Bose, Bossi, Bottermund, Bottesini, Boucourechliev, Boulanger, Bourgault-Ducoudray, Bourgeois, Boutmy, Boyce, Braam, Braun, Brégent, Brehme, Breuker, Brian, Brief, Brindus, Brizzi, Bronner, Broschi, Brouwer, some Browns and a couple of Brownes, Bruce, Bruneau, Brunyèl, Brusselmans, Bruszdowicz, Bryars, Buck, Bull, Buller, Buonamente, von Burck, Burgeon, Burgmüller, Burgr, Burleigh, Burton, Busby, Bush, Bussotti, Butterworth, and, ultimately, Byrne (no Byström having reached my shelves so far). What a bummer to be born a B and become a composer! B is a crowded field! Composers, take an alias in A, or E, or Y and Z! And don’t get me wrong: there are great composers in those “minor” names”. It’s just a matter of the importance given to them by posterity, and what a newcomer might first be looking for.

So I really need to be able to single out the “classics”, and now I think I’ve got what it takes to do it.