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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea

Has the Friday Miscellanea, embroiled as we all are in the virus crisis, been sadly lacking in the whimsical lately? Why yes, yes it has.


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Over at the On An Overgrown Path blog is an excellent discussion of a requiem that is unjustly little-known:
These days warhorse Requiems are trotted out for so many routine performances, but Rudolf Mauersberger's Dresden Requiem remains unknown. Which is unjust as it is a magnificent and poignant work which ranks alongside Britten's War Requiem in its use of music to reflect on the horrors of war. Perhaps its unjustified neglect is simply because it commemorates the bombing of Dresden, an episode that many on the victorious side would prefer to be written out of history.
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 In the same blog is a wonderful homage to the incomparable harpsichordist Scott Ross with photos of his little house in Assas:
On that sleeve for his 1985 recording of the Goldberg Variations, Scott Ross is seen standing in the grounds of Château d'Assas in Languedoc. It was here that many of the harpsichordist's great recordings were made. Then, as today, the château dwelt in the twilight zone between grandeur and dereliction, and thirty years ago the recording sessions were regularly interrupted by the sound of rats scurrying across the floor. Scott Ross was born in Pittsburgh in 1951, and moved to France with his mother following the death of his father in 1964. He studied at the conservatoires in Nice and Paris, and first came to Château d'Assas in 1969 to give music lessons to the grandson of its owner Mme. Simone Demangel.
The whole essay is well worth reading, not least for revealing that Mr. Ross detested the playing of Glenn Gould.

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 The 2020 Pulitzer Prize in music goes to Anthony Davis:
Anthony Davis’s opera The Central Park Five has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. The annually awarded $15,000 prize is for a distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the previous year. The opera, featuring a libretto by Richard Wesley, \received a New Music USA grant for commission fees in 2015 and received its premiere on June 15, 2019 at the Long Beach Opera. It is described in the Pulitzer citation as “a courageous operatic work, marked by powerful vocal writing and sensitive orchestration, that skillfully transforms a notorious example of contemporary injustice into something empathetic and hopeful.”
“That’s pretty far out!” exclaimed Davis (b. 1951) when reached by telephone minutes after the award was announced. “I never thought I’d get a Pulitzer for a piece with Trump on the toilet. I’m thrilled and excited. I’d like to thank Long Beach Opera and all the people involved with the production. It was such an incredible project.”
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The concert — which will be repeated on the orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall platform on Saturday — was organized to conform with local health regulations. No more than 15 musicians could be onstage at a given time, making this a de facto chamber event. The players were kept two meters (about six and a half feet) apart — except for wind players, spaced five meters (about 16 and a half feet) from one another and their colleagues. 
Yet though the seating arrangement was strange — and it was momentarily odd to see a conductor and concertmaster bow to each other rather than shake hands — it was also inspiring to see musicians trying to find some way, however awkward, to keep making live art. And the program chosen by Kirill Petrenko, the Philharmonic’s music director, spoke to this moment of disruption and fear; plumbed spiritual realms; and offered consolation.
He began by leading Arvo Pärt’s “Fratres,” in a version for 12 strings and percussion. Softly rustling riffs and scratchy-sounding strings hover over an eerily subdued yet ever-present sustained low bass tone. A lone percussionist played quiet rumblings from a lower balcony near the stage.
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Over at Slipped Disc we learn of a documentary about one of my favorite pianists, Friedrich Gulda:


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And that's it for today's brief miscellanea. Too many similar articles about the virus, the effects of the virus, the impact of the virus on musician's lives, how the virus will affect our future travel plans and on and on. So let's have some clips instead. Today's envoi starts with the Dresdner Requiem of Rudolf Mauersberger:


Scott Ross in a selection of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti:


Sometime in the early 1970s I purchased a box of the Beethoven piano concertos with Friedrich Gulda and the Vienna Philharmonic. I lost the LPs years ago, but I have always remembered the recording as my favorite of these works. Here is is the Concerto No. 4. Horst Stein is the conductor:




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