Sunday, October 29, 2006

Im in barcelona!

and this time blogger is in spanish!

I saw a gaudi today, it was sweet. Pictures later...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Arcade Fire- Neighborhood #3 (power out)

Ive been generally disappointed by this group. I guess I was expecting another animal collective. I was expecting more of an adventure and I ended up with a sort of bus tour, with a comfortable seat that looks out at interesting things through the safety glass of the rock tradition, things that you never quite get to. Nevertheless, they’re certainly not terrible, I would say good, in that I know they could go a long way, that they could get somewhere great. I find most of the neighborhoods songs to be kinda banal, particularly the theme to #2, though the work in its entirety has a cheeky appeal. Ive heard better work by this group, but nothing that much better.

Im going to Barcelona, the city of gaudi, today. Wont be back till thurs.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I just bought a CD of Dutilleux for 7.90 euros (the same label of the Deprez CD). Not bad for a country where 22.00 is very normal price for a 60 minute CD of Bach or Beethoven classics (which you could probably download them on the internet for free, and legally too). The two works on the CD are the First Symphony and Timbres, Espace,Movement. Im not familiar with much of this composers work, but Ive liked both pieces ive heard by the musician. We shall see…

The other day I said “I need to diner” to a friend. When I try, im usually pretty good at franglish, but this was a spontaneous occurrence. I have no explanation.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A friend of mine is writing a journal about her experiences here in Nantes. One of the most amusing and fitting descriptions i came across was #15 in her list of observations:

The university appears to have been designed by the bastard child of George Jetson and the inventor of concrete.

...and i believe this is true for many universities in france. For a country that pretty much invented the idea of a university, they dont seem to have many old ones sitting around... or any old ones outside of paris, that i know of. What this means is that the universites are on the fringe of the cities and all in garish 1950s modernism. There couldnt possible be a better way to harmonize with 17th, 18th,and 19th century neighbors than to design a perfect concrete and glass grid painted orange.

Dont get me wrong, i find a lot of contemporary archiecture to be pretty rad...but the only good to come out of the 50s in the design world were Le Corbu’s rochamp (which, although hideous, is also pretty damn cool) Mies' coolly minimalistic towers and pavillions and a few works by my favorite aalto, saarinen and the Sydney opera house. After that there have been some really cool exceptional works too, but in the real world (always have to think about the real world) common architecture sucked until the 90s, and still sucks quite a bit since then. Its gotten a lot better in the last 5 years, so I am hopeful.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

George Crumb – Black Angels- Departure (Kronos quartet)

Despite the severity of the opening passages there is lyricism at the musics core. Its bittersweet, terrifying, surreal and expressionistic…much more agitated and energetic than the rest of the Black Angles pieces.

While listening to music, its always rewarding experience to hear something that sounds fresh and new, some of the music I love the most is that which opens up new possibilities or pushes instruments beyond my expectation or knowledge. That excitement of hearing new effects, sounds that you’ve never heard before, that is what keeps me enthralled with contemporary music. A big thanks again to Mr. Crumb, his work is most definitely appreciated.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

For someone who would bang around on a piano twice, three times (6 times) daily, this part of france is a frustrating place to live. The university here does not have a music school or pianos to offer. The only ive found the entire stay here, an electric in a crowded university cafe (where i am pretty much obligated to play something inoffensive, and certainly anything contemporary is off limits) Is broken, and has been for weeks, leaving me even more frustrated with this place. There is an interesting phenomenon in france- the instruments are more expensive, the cds are more expensive, even the sheet music is more pricey... and it appears that many french families, as i understand it, go across the boarder to belgium or germany, or italy and spain to find cheaper instruments, cheaper violins and pianos. What causes the higher prices is beyond me.... but it appears that for a country that places composers on a pedestal... they dont really seem to have a fondness for making music. Its also worth noting that this blog business is currently compromised by the lack of reliable internet access...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Lully- 1eme air des espagnols - sarabande- Le bourgeois gentilhomme (1670)

For about the first 20 seconds of this track you have no idea where to place this music. Is it modern? Contemporary? It begins with a yet-to-be identified percussion instrument(s) which sounds somewhere between a prepared piano and a tambourine. A guitar joins in playing sweetly and quietly. A solo violin enters, singing above the already rich and elegantly woven lines of the guitar. Finally, after another 10 seconds or so, we, the confused listener, can identify the period with some degree of certainty. The French baroque- made audible by the harmonic movement and f;orid ornamentation – later it becomes more obvious by the ensemble of baroque violins and harpsichord. The lyricism is hypnotic, it charms the ear in a way Lully never does, the rhythms are modern and complex- a fascinating piece that seems to float out of the 17th century perfectly intact, un-aged or dated.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Its steve reich's birthday

My father's is coming up soon too.

Well, i suppose today is a better day than just any other to express my love of steve reich's music. (if that made any sense at all) No muscian has gone from such extremes of austerity to lushness, from simplicity to complexity that i can think off, and he did it all brilliantly and flawlessly. I wouldnt hesitate to call him the greatest around these days, i cant wait to hear the pearl variations, i thought that You are var. were beautiful and well done. No other musician has opened my ears as many times as he has with eath succeeding piece. From Its gonna Rain to piano phase, to Drumming, to 6 pianos to 18 musicians, to music for large ensemble, to the cave and to Different Trains, each one of these and then some have been for me an aural revolution and i couldnt thank him enough for it. His music opened up a totally different world that wouldnt have existed without him. I greatly, greatly appreciate the work of this man.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

In this picture: mozart, bach, chopin, meyerbeer and whole bunch of now-obscure composers that obviously appealed to Charles Garnier. They're all golden and shiny too.