Monday, October 26, 2020

Beethoven Symphony #5 on an organ

D medienhafen

 The Scott Brothers Studio in Dusselforf, Germany offers some unusual transcriptions.

Jonathan Scott plays his own organ transcription of Beethoven’s Symphony #5 in C Minor, Op. 67.

This is probably the first major “romantic” symphony to start in a Minor key and end in the Picardy Major triumphantly.

I’m not sure that the organ captures the percussive effects of the final crashing chords in the coda of the finale the way an orchestra does.

Wikiepedia embed of Dusseldorf on the Rhein, with its tilting buildings, click for attribution.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Debussy plays his own "Clair de Lune" on a piano roll in 1913

Here is a recording of Claude Debussy playing his own Clair de Line in 1913 on a piano roll .

The piece is the third in the Suite bergamasque.  It is in D-flat  (I think the Arabesque is in E). Not a lot of people know that Debussy was a Rosicrucian. 

The video (on the Adagietto channel) gives a detailed discussion of piano rolls in the video notes.  Rachmaninoff also often recorded on piano rolls.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

CNN Heroes story about music programs for seniors isolated by coronavirus lockdowns


Laura Kkaimont offers a CNN Heroes story about Carol Rosenstein, who runs a non-profit offering music programs for seniors now isolated by the pandemic.

The nonprofit is “Music Mends Minds” with the subtitle “Restoring the rhythm of life” and apparently forms “bands” (wind instruments) and probably piano and singing. .

The group offers Zoom sessions three times a week.

Monday, October 12, 2020

A Trabaci (early 1600s) prelude played on a spinet in two different temperaments

John Moraitis performs Giavonni Maria Trabaci’s  (1575-1647) “Durezze et Ligature”, in two different temperaments: quarter-comma meantone, and third comma meantone.  This performance comes from May 2018.

A is 415Kz, and is A-flat on a modern equally tempered piano.   

In one reply, Moraitis says that third-comma meantone is equally tempered if the octave is divided into 19 intervals instead of 12.

Most visitors like the third-comma better. Both make intervals of a major third sound as true as possible. But chromatic progressions of half-steps may sound out of tune, as may some more dissonant chords on the spinet (which would have had to be tuned separately for each performance).

Friday, October 09, 2020

The case for playing more of Louis Couperin (compared to JS Bach)

John Moraitis explains “Why We Should Be Playing More Louis Couperin (and perhaps less J.S. Bach).

Louis Couperin was the uncle of Francois Couperin and lived only to age 40, in the 17th Century.

The harpsichordist explains that Couperin’s scores contain less “information” and require more embellishment by performers, beyond arpegiatting the chords.

The Sarabande he chooses starts out on an ambiguous chord and takes two measures to settle into D Minor. Moraitis compares this to the opening of Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolda”.  Of course Beethoven’s Symphony #1 in C has a tonally ambiguous opening. 

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Theater performers group criticizes insufficient diversity on NYC stages


Mark Kennedy and the AP issued a report on diversity in actors and writers on NYC stages, even as they are dark now because of coronavirus.

The Asian American Performers Action Coalition provided the reportThe Visibility Report: Racial Representation on NYC Stages”.

I am not particularly a fan of quotas, but as someone who is working on a screenplay (and a short cantata with performers)  I am aware of the collective sensitivity of the issue for some groups.  In many films and dramas, roles like this are not interchangeable.  In the cantata (it’s short), Jesus is imagined as gender-fluid (and can be PoC), but other characters are influenced specifically by white appearance values. Somewhat the same is true of some lead characters in the screenplay (on a space station) but the introduction of “politics” provides ways to provide more diversity in the other characters.

Writers tend to simply become established over long periods of time and aren’t recruited.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Metropolitan Opera in NY closed until fall 2021; most other large venues closed until Jan 2021.

Metropolitan Opera auditorium

 I checked a few major concert venues to see how much progress there is with COVID-19, and, well, there isn’t much.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York will not resume until the fall of 2021 (Theater mania).  The entire 2020-2021 season is canceled. Because opera requires so many people to work together indoors for long periods of time, and because audiences are large, it was not feasible to resume until a vaccine has become available (plus 5 or 6 months to help reach herd immunity), and so that mask wearing and social distancing is no longer medically necessary.  That’s pretty blunt language.  But it is predicated on vaccines even working well enough in that time frame.  There could be other ideas (rapid testing) that could help things open safely sooner.  

The New York Philharmonic apparently wants to reopen Jan. 5, 2021.

In Washington DC, the Kennedy Center will host a virtual event “A Time to Sing” with Renee Flemming and Vanessa Williams, performed on an empty stage, on Saturday September 26.  But it appears that National Symphony concerts and similar large products don’t resume until around Jan. 14, 2021.

Smaller venues appear to remain closed indefinitely.  The Poisson Rouge on Bleecker St in New York is offering regular virtual concerts but does not appear to have opened for audiences.

The 930 Club in Washington (located near where Town DC was until it closed mid 2018 for apartment construction) has been scheduling events but many have been canceled and postponed.  It is associated with other venues, like Merriweather Post Pavillion.  This has a large indoor space where in theory social distancing is sometimes possible.  

Update: Oct 9:  Now Broadway will not open until May 2021 at the earliest, Deadline story

Picture:   Inside Metropolitan Opera, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution