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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea

Friday is when we put up the funnest stuff, like this performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on baroque lute:


I once heard Jakob Lindberg play "Across the Universe" on baroque lute as an encore after a solo recital. Baroque lutes and the Beatles must be a thing. "Helter Skelter" anyone?

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Anthony Tommasini has an interesting review in the New York Times of recitals by two pianists: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
Yuja Wang and Daniil Trifonov have different artistic personalities. But they’re similar in how they recently took audiences on unusual musical journeys.
I'm big on the metaphor of music as a journey, it is one I used myself in a recent talk.
In a program note and recorded message played before the concert, Wang explained that she would not perform the works in the order originally listed; instead, she would give the recital “its own life” by responding to how she felt in the moment and playing whatever piece struck her. This raised some difficult questions that have stayed with me, and it seemed to leave many audience members shuffling through their programs trying to figure out what they were hearing — especially with less-familiar fare by Berg, Monpou and Scriabin.
I believe that should be "Mompou" the Catalan pianist and composer? I kind of like the idea of playing the music in a different order each concert. It adds a level of spontaneity and challenges the audience to identify the piece (the works are listed in the program, but not the order of performance) a bit like a blind tasting of wine. Yuja Wang has been playing this program in a number of recitals lately. Daniil Trifonov is playing an all-Bach program:
The main offering, though, was “The Art of Fugue,” which was left incomplete at Bach’s death. It includes 14 elaborate fugues, about an hour’s worth of the most riveting, complex and astonishing contrapuntal music ever written. I have never been so impressed by Mr. Trifonov’s virtuosity — the most musically comprehensive kind, which is what it took for him to play this work so magnificently.
I have a ticket to hear him in Salzburg in August where he is playing an all contemporary concert from Berg to Adams.

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From Slipped Disc, a troubling experience for Yuja Wang:
On arrival at Vancouver International Airport on Friday, I was detained for over an hour and subjected to intense questioning which I found humiliating and deeply upsetting. I was then released, giving me very little time to travel to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. I was left extremely shaken by this experience.
When I was dropped off at the venue for my recital that evening, my eyes were still visibly red and swollen from crying. I was in shock. Although I was traumatized by what happened, I was determined not to cancel the recital, but to go ahead with the performance and not to let the audience down, which included my dear teacher Gary Graffman. I decided that wearing sunglasses was the only way to prevent my distress from being seen, since I wasn’t yet prepared to make a statement about what happened.
I have occasionally experienced rude and inconsiderate behaviour from immigration officers--even in Canada where you might expect a certain amount of courtesy. Touring musicians have always faced challenges, but this seems to have been a particularly unnecessary one!

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This piece in The Guardian, 'It's hopeful and generous': Thurston Moore's experimental record shop, asks the poignant question:
who in their right mind would open a record store now? There is no money in it. Even on this gentrified street there are empty shops, the rents are extortionate and landlords are keen to turn properties over to property developers. What about profit? “What about artistic profit, creative profit, intellectual profit?” replies Moore.
To which I would add: "who in their right mind would be a composer? Or classical musician generally? Or a poet? Or work in any field in which aesthetics, not profit, is the prime motivator?"

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Speaking of musicians and touring, here is a compendium of disasters: ‘I’ve seen a forklift go through a guitar case’: Musicians share their air-travel horror stories.
In 2014, Christopher Wilke, a lute player and University of Cincinnati music professor, had his $10,000 instrument destroyed on a Delta flight. Wilke was fastidious with his instrument, even placing a humidifier inside the case to prevent drying. Delta paid for repairs, but he put the blame for these incidents squarely on careless policies from both TSA and the airline.
“The apathy of the TSA and airlines to protect rare instruments from harm greatly hinders the opportunity for musicians and audiences to connect,” Wilke said. The experience shook him so deeply that, despite recent collaborations with rock and hip-hop artists and offers for national tour dates, he won’t baggage-check his instrument and can’t afford the cost of an extra airplane seat, and therefore doesn’t perform beyond a day’s driving distance from Cincinnati.
I had a number of unpleasant incidents travelling with a guitar on Canadian airlines and so was apprehensive about a trip from Mexico to Toronto to make a recording a year ago. My travel agent printed out the Aeromexico policies which clearly stated that a guitar case was within the dimensions of carry-on luggage and as it turned out, everything went smoothly. But for many years I simply would not travel with a guitar.

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Here is something interesting: Chords and discords.
Classical music is a rare remaining area where citizens of countries that are at loggerheads (or worse) with one another can interact in a productive manner. “The most important aspect we’re missing in the public debate today is the ability to listen. Listening is fundamental in music-making,” Noseda, an Italian, told me. Indeed, long before the US State Department coined the phrase Track II Diplomacy—encounters between hostile states involving think tank and other civil society experts—in the early 1980s, classical music was Track II. “The world needs to find a layer where we can talk, and that layer is music,” Noseda suggested.
True and very heartening, but this transcendent aspect of music is exactly what is put at risk by the contextual approach of the "new" musicology. Music for them is not above the social context, indeed, the identity of the performers, composers and listeners is crucial. But if this were so, then the assumptions of the above article would be challenged. You can either see music as a kind of transcendent bridge between places, peoples and cultures, or you can see it as entirely the product of particular places, peoples and cultures--which one is more true? Or more beneficial?

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I think we should have some lute music today, don't you? This is master lutenist Paul O'Dette playing all the galliards by John Dowland:




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