Friday, June 19, 2015

Will auteurs want to own their own music collections? Also, more on the Bruckner 9th Finale, and Belgian composer Letocart

Here’s an interesting perspective by Vox technology journalist Timothy B. Lee, “Apple is finally accepting that buying music is obsolete”, link here  (June 17).

Indeed, I’ve gotten lazy. It’s usually easier to play a symphony on YouTube (since the sound on my desktop is pretty good) than get out a CD.  Sometimes a YouTube video gets taken down for copyright. 

In fact, I usually buy CD’s or MPG’s from Amazon only for composers or artists I personally want to support, or sometimes for a rarely played work that is likely not to remain free online. 

And as I’ve noted before, my father used to say “You’re married to your records”.  And one of my unpublished songs (from a sketched choral symphony) has the text line “collections held me”. Mystics look at collections as attachments. Yet, as Tim Lee writes (another "Timo", this time in his mid 30s), "buying music is for old people" (like me).
I used to have catalogue entries for my records on a database (Access) somehow lost among household moves years ago.
MPG’s (with accompanying PDF’s for program notes) could be a reasonable way to collect music “instances” (as a digital library) in the future.  If you do a household move, you don’t have to physically carry around (or pay a mover) what’s in a digital cloud.  The security problems change from burglary or natural disasters (storms) to possible packers or maybe power grid failures.
I’ve rooted around a little more on the finale of Bruckner’s Ninth.

Benjamin Gunnar Cohrs has written a long paper on the reconstruction efforts by Samale, Cohrs, Phillips and Mazucca  (PDF on a scholarly site devoted to Anton Bruckner's music) on the Finale, and offered a new reconstruction, as of 2012, which essentially replaces the final coda and pedal point relative to the 2008 version (and 1992 and 1987 versions.  Instead of bringing back the full ascending chorale of the Bruckner Seventh, now Samale et al concentrate on the “Hallelujiah” morif from the Trio of the Scherzo and the brass theme from the slow movement, all of this related to the descending motive that opens the Beethoven Ninth and Bruckner’s own Third.   The resulting coda is slightly shorter and, in a way, a bit brutal. There is a "resolution point" to final D Major, with the descending fifths, then a "Ring" pianissimo exploding into the final crescendo with rising fifths, with just a hint of the theme from the 7th.  Instead of a single concluding D Major fortissimo chord, there are four of them, crashing down. 

I find the 2008 version moving, however.  I’ve notice in the materials in my Sonata some subconscious (dating back to 1962, although I had gotten Walter’s performance of the 3-movement Ninth on Columbia  in 1961) connection to the motives of the Bruckner 9th, and I’m trying to put the Finale back together, building up through these motives to a massive outburst at the end, as the music goes from being playful to menacing and finally monumental at the conclusion.  The rising theme of the Seventh seems so effective.

Then there is the completion by Belgian composer Sebastien Letocart, who also makes a lot of the Hallelujah motive, for which there is a curious accompanying “bisexual” short film (here. May 25) that combines religion, conventional heterosexual love, discipleship, and homoerotic ritualism to accompany the coda. Now, I’m impressed with the notion that Letocart has varied more from the original (even though he quotes several other Bruckner symphonies), and composed his own fantasy, which is actually very moving and effective (remaining in minor until almost the very end) the way Hans Zimmer’s music for “Inception” is so moving. There is a bit of Hollywood in this version.  But this seems to be the music of Letocart, a major composer in his own right.  For example, here is his organ Prelude and Fugue in G Major (10 min) on YouTube.  Note the thick, somewhat French texture and  sound, almost like Scriabin at times. 

Letocart temperamentally reminds me of a fellow much younger (age 29) Belgian (and sometimes LA-based), singer-actor and likely (soon) film producer Timo Descamps, who has recently sung a lead role in a chamber opera based on the French Canadian play (Michel Marc Bouchard) and film “Liles” . We’re hoping that production comes to the U.S.

Does someone know where a performance of the complete Bruckner Ninth, in any major version (Samale 2008 or 2012 or Letocart) will occur?  I would think the New York Philharmonic or Washington National Symphony or maybe Los Angeles Philharmonic would take it up now.

It's also important the the first three movements have some version differences.  There are three possible trios to the scherzo (one of them in F major, the other two in F#) and the Hallelujah theme seems to come from the second (the most often used, as in the 1961 Walter recording for Columbia). 
Picture: Pride Party in DC last weekend, the illuminated “crown of thorns” got my attention, would have fit into Letocart’s film.

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