Sunday, July 30, 2006

You Care What I'm Reading, Watching, Listening To (II)

(Five disc boxset of old-school hip hop from the Sugarhill Label. Esssssssential.)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Memo to Marxist Historicist Post-Modern Academic Hipsters Everywhere

"The height of audacity in serving up pure nonsense, in stringing together senseless and extravagant mazes of words, such as had been only previously known in madhouses, was finally reached in Hegel, and became the instrument of the most barefaced, general mystification that has ever taken place, with a result which will appear fabulous to posterity, as a monument to German stupidity."*

-Arthur Schopenhauer

*Via the most trusted source of knowledge known to man, Wikipedia.

By the way, speaking of Hegel. Did you know that Mendelssohn studied aesthetics with him as a young man? I, for one, did not.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

DVD Review Coming Soon...

I hope to watch this important new DVD again and review it in the next few days. Check back if you care.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 22, 2006

Lo, the rains perish which Ether-father throws
Down to the bosom of Earth-mother; but then
Upsprings the shining grain, and boughs are green
Amid the trees, and trees themselves wax big
And lade themselves with fruits; and hence in turn
The race of man and all the wild are fed;
Hence joyful cities thrive with boys and girls;
And leafy woodlands echo with new birds;
Hence cattle, fat and drowsy, lay their bulk
Along the joyous pastures whilst the drops
Of white ooze trickle from distended bags;
Hence the young scamper on their weakling joints
Along the tender herbs, fresh hearts afrisk
With warm new milk. Thus naught of what so seems
Perishes utterly, since Nature ever
Upbuilds one thing from other, suffering naught
To come to birth but through some other's death.

-Lucretius (from "De Rarum Natura", trans. William Leonard)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Columbine Killers: Oh Dear

When one looks at some of the newly released documents from Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, it becomes clear that A) These kids were influenced by violent movies and videogames, but more importantly they were B) Gigantic morons.
In some journal entries, such as the above list of ethnic slurs compiled by Harris, it also makes one wonder if the two murderers at one time shared crib notes with the criminally unfunny Carlos Mencia.

Cool Album Covers of Yore

Hit your basement bean bag chair, drop a little acid and do some of that horrible 'groove' dancing around the Golden Calf; you know, the kind you like to do at those awful Grateful Dead/Phish/String Cheese Incident shows.
You Care About What I'm Reading/Watching/Listening To At the Moment (I)

(Also Stravinsky's beautiful and priggish Cantata has been making the rounds a lot. No CD available as it's from my Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky boxset. So shut up.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Constanze Mozart Photo Found! Again! (UPDATED*)

Let it be known from here on out, that I reported on a story of great interest involving the greatest composer of all-time, about 5 months before the BBC did.
Constanze biographer Agnes Selby however, disagrees that it's her there in the front left.

Either way: It's time for some Swiss Cake Rolls and Tahitian Treat to celebrate my awesome-ness. Who's with me?!

UPDATE*: It's looking more and more like this is not really a picture of Constanze Mozart (click on the Agnes Selby link again to read a new Mozart scholar's opinion). I guess this picture has been around since the 1950s, and was debunked back then. Perhaps my celebration with Swiss Cake Rolls and Tahitian Treat was a tad premature. I DO have a new scoop for you, however. I've obtained , with a little help from a German aquaintence, what is perhaps the only known photo of Carl Maria von Weber:

Perhaps the great precursor to Wagner is shown here walking alongside the Elbe, doing some mental work on Der Freischütz, as well as preparing to tear a baby deer to shreds.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Debussy: Cello Sonata (Prologue and Serenade)

It's slightly out of sync, but here's the late/great Maurice Gendron playing the first two movements of Debussy's late/great Cello Sonata (1915)*. Debussy's late music is an obsession of mine, and I hold pieces like these final sonatas, the piano Etudes and Jeux in what comes close to awe. While they have attracted much of the post-war avant-garde, most notably Boulez, for their obsession with novel timbres, austere emphasis on structural coherence through the most fragmentary and subtly complex rhythmic, harmonic and thematic material, I cannot be so cerebral to fall in love with this music just for its inversions of musical syntax and grammar on the page. If you have read my writing or better yet come into personal contact with me, you will see that I cannot be 'cerebral' much at all. I like Nascar, voluptuous women and explosions like every other American man as deemed so by one Tim Allen.**
Nevertheless, I have often thought of these late works of Debussy as my "ideal" music. Not even my 'favorite' music, or the 'greatest music' I know of, but in some way the most oddly perfect and fascinating music I have ever heard; I hear, I hear Ancient Greece, I hear Lully and Rameau and Couperin and Charpentier, I hear Stravinsky and Ravel and yet I hear, I hear nothing but this music, and nothing but the slowly dying and simultaneously dreamy and acerbic Claude Debussy. I return over and over again as I am haunted by certain pages, certain bars, certain harmonies, certain rests and notes and accentuations, that seem to have been put there by my dear Claude Achille for no one but the good friend he never met, being dead 67 years before the fact, a certain Patrick I call myself. Divining secrets and empathy beyond the grave the sly devil!

Something strange is at work as well right here in this Prologue and Serenade for cello and piano, that certain renewed interest in hardened and crystilline form, combined with the beautiful but cranky woolgathering of the master's mature style. When it comes together in a work like this and is performed by musicians with a real ear for the strange dream logic, it is some of the greatest art I know of.
Debussy thought of subtitling this Sonata Pierrot fâché avec la lune, 'Pierrot (the lovesick clown from Italian commedia dell'arte) furious with the moon'. It's a curious title, but in its profoundly deep Debussyan way "just right", like Goldilocks' third bed. Not only is it interesting for the Schoenberg connection, as many forms of circus imagery seem to have been particularly popular with artists in the first couple decades of our last clownish century, but mostly striking for the classic image of a sad clown cursing something he loves, hates and doesn't understand.
Basically, of course, you and me.

*The Finale is here.
**Joke. I hate Nascar, and all cars for that matter, am fond of all women no matter the obtuseness of their curves, and shudder at the thought of physical explosions (preferring abstract, and metaphoric explosions of invention and love and energy). In short, I am the young man who you most likely saw crying during dodgeball in ninth grade gym class.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Minnesota Orchestra is Stalking Me

My familial household establishment made a brilliant decision a couple years ago to not get our home phone number put on the "Do-Not Call List". It's all well and good for my father, who enjoys having Pakistani men call and offer him low-equity rates and trips to Orlando a couple times every hour, but for the rest of my family, it's sort of a bother.
Most of these calls show up on the caller-ID as "Out of Area", which we always answer in hopes that its one of our non-Midwestern family members or friends calling from out of state. But as surprising as the sunrise it is alas Middle-Eastern men informing us that we've been chosen for low-equity rates and trips to Orlando.
One thing I find particularly disturbing about these poor telemarketers, is the deafening background noise and commotion that is always going on behind them somewhere. I'm sure there are about a thousand of them in a room, being whipped and spat on by some sort of Dickensian authority figure. But why do I hear screeching of gears, yelling in Arabic and Farsi and what sounds like the dull moans of bodily probing? I understand they are in some huge office somewhere, but why does it sound like a 1920s meat-proccessing plant as described by Upton Sinclair?

Besides the telemarketing feeding-frenzy our family has inspired, poor ol' me receives about three or four calls a week from the Minnesota Orchestra, pleading with me like a spurned lover with lame deals for lame concerts.
"Sir, would you like to buy nine tickets for the price of five for the upcoming MozartFest 2006?"
"No. Thank you though..."
"I see you attended a concert three months ago. Did you enjoy it?"
"Great. How bout this? On December 21st, Manheim Steamroller will be 'rolling' into town to celebrate the holiday season with late 1980s synthesizers and electric violins. We have a great deal for you. You buy three tickets for this concert, and we will personally send Minnesota Orchestra cellist Dale Young to come to your house and caress you and speak sweet nothings in your ear."
"The love that doth not speak its name, sir."
"I have to go now."
"(self-inflicted gunshot wound.)"

Apparently they have me on some list because I went to a couple of concerts this year (as I do every year). I'm sure I made some mistake when ordering the tickets and clicked "Yes" in the Bother me daily in my personal life checkbox.

Wonk wonk wonk!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Aimard Playing Ravel, Ligeti and Mozart

Tickets are going on sale August 21st for next June's concert with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra where the French virtuoso will be playing Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, Ligeti's Piano Concerto, and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 8 in C, K.247 (which he will also conduct). Unless all three composers will be rising from the death slumber to give their own "authentic" concert of these works with the Minnesota Orchestra, I will be attending this concert with extreme prejudice.
The Ravel has always been a favorite of mine (especially the Adagio Assai, which has been proven in experiment after experiment performed by MIT neuroscientists to "Tug at the heartstrings (or the HS)"), while Ligeti's masterpiece will be in fine hands with the late composer's favorite pianist. The early Mozart concerto is one of those works of Mozart that makes one depressed to realize he wrote it when he was 19, the age at which you were still heating up Hot Pockets in the microwave for dinner and waking up at 2pm to Community College commercials on TV, aired at the perfect time to reach you and all others at home on a weekday at 2pm.
Aimard needs no praise from me. The man is a freak of nature, a cute little monster who could probably play the vocal score to Schoenberg's Erwartung with the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, while using the rest of his 8 digits to cut some Brie, pet a ferret, create a threaded cat's cradle based on the pattern of the large, Northern Constellation Camelopardalis.
I'm Back!

As I'm sure I was horribly missed by all four of you that don't share genetic material with me, I've decided to return to the Skittlez Maze to show all ya'll haters I ain't goin out like that. And yes, white people talking in "urban" slang is still funny!

I've had a lovely summer so far but I realized that I must keep writing on this thing so as to not lose my extraordinary talent. Such things are known to vanish when relegated to the darkness (Proof: All of Prince's albums after Sign O' the Times).