Latest additions and reviews

15 September 2016

So here’s the GREAT news from the International Isang Yun Society that I mentioned in my post from September 6 but didn’t have time to elaborate.

As I was working on my Isang Yun introductory page and doing some discographic research, I realized that the Intenationale Isang Yun Gesellschaft had published, over the years (between 1999 and 2014), a series of 10 CDs of Yun’s music, including recordings of works not available elsewhere. The complete list is given on the Society’s website (click on the link “CDs” under the heading “The Society”). Of course that series immediately appeared as potently desirable, because of the unavailability elsewhere of some of that material, but also because those discs had had only limited circulation, and most of them were propably long out-of-print. I had found a few listed on various Amazons but not the complete series, others on eBay but again just a few among the series, and when offered, always at prices significantly higher than what I’d be willing to pay, especially if I was going to buy 10 CDs.

And then I noticed that the listing of those CDs on the Society’s website was introduced by the mention “It is possible to order the CDs (12 Euro plus shipment) at the International Isang Yun Society”.

“Now, really ?” I thought. “Could all these CDs be still available, and don’t you need to be a member to purchase them?” 12 euros x 10 was still quite an outlay, but… you know… rarities… Yun… I thought it might be time to break the piggy bank, just this once. So I wrote to the Society, explaining what a great fan of Yun I was, providing the link to my Isang Yun introductory page, and enquiring if it was still possible to buy the series. And on a spur-of-the-moment inspiration, I added, trembling at my own audacity: “since I’d be buying the whole series, could you consider offering a rebate?”

That was on a Friday. No reply. Well, sure, week-end, you can’t expect these people to work on Saturdays and Sundays just for the love of Isang Yun [but about this, see my addendum from September 16]. But Monday came and still no response, so I kind of gave up hope. And Tuesday night, as I was about to shut down the computer, came the great news: yes, they could sell the whole series, sure, they’d consider a rebate, how about 5 euros each and free postage?

WHAT??? 5 euros and free postage???? 50 dollars for the whole series? Golly miss Molly… THANKS AND GRATITUDE, FRIENDLY AND GENEROUS PEOPLE FROM THE ISANG YUN SOCIETY!!! You’ve turned a shattered piggy bank into a GREAT bargain.

And I’ve received them today. It is with a certain pride that I can now reasonably consider myself to be one of the greatest collectors of CDs of Isang Yun in the world after the Society itself.

Okay, now I need to listen to all that music of Isang Yun, and review it. But THANKS AGAIN, SOCIETY!



14 September 2016

Haven’t been able to achieve much this last couple of days – no time for Yun, and I feel terribly frustrated about it -, but I had been wanting to re-post my review of Henry Brant’s Kingdom Come and Machinations, and I have.

Listened to three symphonies of Michael Haydn by Harold Farberman on Vox. They’re great! I’m not all that familiar with those of Joseph, but I hear nothing in those of his kid brother that I can recognize as inferior to his, or to Mozart’s. In fact, I hear many traits of great originality. Posterity is a bitch (and that’s going to be the title of my review). Why did Franz make it to fame, during his lifetime and after, and not Michael? I don’t know, it’s a true question that would deserve an in-depth sociological study: the mechanisms of fame. And it’s not that one would have been working in a remote cultural backwater and the other one in a dominant cultural centre, because it’s the opposite: Joseph was famously at the service of the Esterházys in the middle of nowhere, and Michael was in a prominent position in Salzburg which was a prominent musical city then.

12 September 2016

…and this morning everything’s working like a charm, fast boot, no problem to load Firefox, IE, Windows Live Mail or my current Word documents. Well, it doesn’t make up for the fact that my yester-day was ruined. And I dread the day when the problems will return. Only one thing is sure: they will.

My revenge on yester’s hell of a day: I took the time to do a careful comparative listening of Yun’s beautiful fist Clarinet Quintet (three versions by Eduard Brunner and one by Sabine Meyer).

11 September 2016

There are two eBay sellers – Snowkees and Avantgarcon, both located in the Netherlands (but not the same city) – who have been, for some months now, selling huge loads of attractive CDs, and always by lots (it can go from two CDs to more than 10, in the case of sets or multiple sets), regrouped by label, or composer, sometimes performer, and I’m winning a lot of those bids at attractive prices. It’s tragic! The CDs are too attractive and the prices too bargain to resist, but I’m winning too much and too easily! Just today I’ve won ALL my bids with both of them. I don’t even have the time to unpack and list the CDs, when a new shipment arrives! Not to speak about actually listening to all those CDs. Sometimes you can get choked by an “abundance of riches”. So I’m hoarding, hoarding and hoarding for later as if I was eternal. Not speaking about shelf space…

Uh? There’s a crisis of the CD? especially in Classical music? Oh, really?

(well, in a way, sure, there may be a crisis of the CD. Many of those that I buy were released in the 1990s, when the market was still high and everybody was surfing on the wave of the new medium. I loooove Capitalism and its lemming syndrom: “there’s a wave? Let’s all throng there!” And I’m the bounty-hunter picking up the dead carcasses rejected on the shore, decades later. Who did they think those hundreds of attractive CDs issued every month would be for, who would buy them? And who do they think will buy the new ones they are still releasing? Why would I buy the new releases, when I can buy for so cheap used copies of older CDs that are still missing from my collection? And it’s not like there’s a sonic value added to the new releases. Reissues from the 1960s will sound as great and as “new” as the new recording. And unlike the LP, there’s no difference between a used CD and a new CD, they don’t deteriorate – and in the very rare cases that I’ve encountered when they do, seller refunds. You read everywhere about the crisis of the CD and the crisis within the crisis of the classical music CD, which, we are told, is an ever smaller crump, an  ioata even, of the ever dwindling CD market, but there are many things unsaid and unstudied about that purported crisis. Like: how many used CDs of classical musc are sold every year on platforms like eBay or Amazon? I don’t think that this, and the consequences of this, have been measured by the industry. Nobody seems to be making an issue about it, but if I were a classical music label struggling to record and release new stuff and hoping to make money out of it, it would be a huge issue, I think. If record producer sells his new CD (rarely these days), he’ll receive a modest revenue for it. But if the same CD resells 10 times on the secondary market, passes from hand to hand, he won’t get a dime for it! Not that I’m going to make too much noise about the issue: I’m the guy who take huge advantage from the secondary market…)

Incidentally, there’s something intriguing about those two sellers, Snowkees and Avantgarcon. Their offers are so similar, oftentimes involving exactly the same CDs (but there’s more of a bent towards standard repertoire with Snowkees, more contemporary music with Avantgarcon) that I wonder if they could be the same seller. And also the fact that they both have the same selling strategy (selling by lots), same type of cover photos (very detailed), and that their sales come to end precisely every Sunday, Snowkees starting at 10:00 am and Avantgarcon starting at 11:00 am… Very convenient, in fact (that is, if you don’t go to Church on Sundays).


Other than that: my laptop has given me HELL today. All of a sudden, in that afternoon, mousepad didn’t work properly, I clicked and clicked and clicked frantically and nothing happened, or it happened after what seemed like hours. Turns out there was one of those automatic updates that Windows forces on you, of, wouldn’t you know, the newest version of the Synaptics mousepad driver: IT’S HELL! IT DOESN’T WORK! IT FUCKS UP YOUR MOUSEPAD! AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE! I had to restore my system to the point just before this shit was downloaded, then I had to find a way so that it would NOT be re-installed immediately again against my will (I have, Microsoft has a downloadable tool for that. I hope it works). All this has cost me hours, thrown me in fits of rage (much worse than any of my ex-wives ever has), and prevented me from doing any serious listening today. And some people really get PAID to make your computing life a hell like this?

Oh, and I’ve also found a tutorial to override the password lock screen that Windows 10 now IMPOSES on you. I hate it. I don’t want to have to type in my password every time I boot or shut the lid of my computer! Isn’t it the password to connect your computer online and allow Microsoft to suck in all your information, under the pretense of saving it? (not, I think, that overriding the password screen changes anything to that, in fact, it just makes entering the password automatic. Oh well…)

9 September 2016

Finally uploaded my 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 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.