Home     About     Contact     

Beyond Category

David Roussève: Halfway to Dawn, REDCAT, October 4, 2018 — Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington deserved his royal nickname. Throughout his fifty-year reign as America's premier composer/pianist/band leader and goodwill ambassador to the world, Ellington spoke and carried himself in a courtly, regal manner. He routinely used the "royal we" when acknowledging applause from his audiences--as in, "we love you madly"--and referred to himself, with amused and characteristic noblesse oblige, simply as "our pianist." He was charming and grandiose, elegant and hip. In truth, the princely Ellington's empire was actually quite small; it consisted of about fifteen loyal musicians, all with virtually lifetime jobs, and a retinue that … [Read more...]

Russian Repercussions

A. Borodin, A. Glazunov, N. Rinsky-Korsakov: “Les Vendredis” String Quartets, Excerpts A. Glazunov: Elegy for Piano and Cello, OP 17 D. Shostakovitch: Piano Quintet in C Minor, OP 57 Le Salon de Musiques, April 8th, Dorothy Chandler Pavillon —                                      News cycles at the moment are rife with tales of Russian influence, wealthy oligarchs and behind-the-scene businessmen with lavish country dachas. On April 8th, Le Salon de Musiques presented a concert whose background, although of similar themes, dealt with the world of classical music (circa 1890-1943)  rather than the current international … [Read more...]

Raag Malkauns

April 2018 celebrates the Centenary of Swami Vijnananand (P.R. Bhide) — In September 2010, an unusual video was posted on YouTube, by Mr. Bharat Upadhyay of Lata Mangeshkar singing Raag Malkauns. During the past seven odd years, 250K viewers have seen it and commented. I have had in my possession, for many years, a copy of this film that was more or less the same except for very last frame that had been severed in the above mentioned YouTube post. Hence began my search for the origin of this unusual film. Sometime around 2003, a friend sent me a DVD, with two folders. Both had Lata Mangeshkar singing Raag Malkauns for ten minutes. One was a digital version from audio tape, and the other was from a video tape, with … [Read more...]

Sense and Sensuality

Extrasensory, Jacaranda February 24, 2018— Andre Jolivet, Eric Tanguy, Olivier Messiaen, Betsy Jolas and Claude Debussy Midway through its 15th season, Jacaranda presented an updated interpretation of it's two season 2007-2009 celebration of the centenary works of Olivier Messiaen and the 20th century French music informed by and that paid homage to the great composer. Entitled Extrasensory, the concert began with works by younger composers who were students of or influenced by Messiaen; it ended with a seminal work by Claude Debussy, historically the starting point for the kind of impressionistic "sound painting" heard throughout the evening. Jacaranda's creative decisions—from the choice of composers and musicians … [Read more...]

Mars, Music, Mayhem

"War of the Worlds" director Yuval Sharon, composer Annie Gosfield, LA Phil, Disney Hall —  From the late 1920s until the rise of television in the early 1950s, two relatively new inventions--motion pictures and radio-- truly united the United States. By the time of their broadest reach in the 30s and 40s, movies had an immensely popular draw; millions of people went to see them every week. For a quarter, you could enjoy two films, a newsreel, a comedy short and a bag of popcorn. Radio was an even more visceral unifier and when families owned one they felt connected to a wider world. The airwaves carried free sources of entertainment and information. Everybody listened to FDR's "fireside chats', popular music, Joe Louis … [Read more...]

Souvenirs: Lost and Found

C. Debussy, G. Faure, Z. Kodaly and C. Chaminade, Le Salon de Musique, April 2, 2017— Years ago, while employed in the television industry, we purchased thirty antiques for possible use in a production. These 18th and 19th century furniture pieces—huge armoires, elaborate partner desks, chifferobes, secretaires and vitrines—haunted a dark corner of a stage for months until they were returned to the seller, never used. But while they sat gathering dust, these former possessions of Europe's elite fascinated me. In time I thoroughly searched every nook, cranny and drawer looking for possible hidden compartments, hoping to find a lost bit of hidden history—a story by Oscar Wilde, a letter from Napoleon, a score by Mozart—tucked … [Read more...]

Coursing Towards Twelve Tone

Quatuor Diotima, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, String Quartets, Jacaranda February 25th, 2017— The Diotima Quartet is an anomaly in the 21st century. Witnessing their precision, concentration and commitment in action serves as the perfect antidote to the off-the-cuff remarks, half baked ideas, reactionary reflexes, and incomplete sentences that marked and marred the beginning of 2017. Quatuor Diotima, in it's present incarnation, includes Yun-Peng, violin I, Constance Ronsatti, violin II, Franck Chevalier, viola and Pierre Morlet Cello. Soprano Elissa Johnston joined for the Schoenberg String Quartet No. 2 and Contralto, Adrianna Manfredi, concluded with the Berg Lyric Suite. Released in 2016, … [Read more...]

Strings on Fire

 Mark Menzies: from the islands...to fragments, REDCAT, February 6, 2017 —                                     REDCAT's February 6 concert, "Mark Menzies: from the islands...to fragments", was quirky, ambitious, lengthy and rewarding. At the outset, not all of the 240 seats were occupied; after intermission, another 50 were empty. Even for those of us who love music, two hours of solo violin/viola was daunting. But the more one focused on Mark Menzies—his calm demeanor, the skills he employed to navigate complex music, the remarkable range of sounds emanating from his instruments—the more involving the evening became. He also had a couple of … [Read more...]

The Russian Evolution

S. Rachmaninoff, P.Tchaikovsky, A. Arensky, D.Shostakovich, S.Taneyev, Le Salon de Musiques January 8, 2017— Despite its often dark past, the "Russian Bear" has blessed our eyes and ears with great beauty, from the architecture of St. Petersburg palaces, onion domes on Orthodox churches, painted religious icons and the contents of the Hermitage Museum to Faberge's bejeweled Easter eggs and the enduring novels of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Pushkin. Following his 1837 death, it was Pushkin's tales that provided inspiration for a century of artists who created perhaps his country's greatest gift to the world--music. A partial list of notable composers who were born or writing in 19th century Russia includes Glinka, … [Read more...]

Romantic Respite

R.Strauss, X.Schrwenka, R.Schumann, Le Salon de Musiques November 6, 2016— One hour of daylight was taken from us on November 6th in the annual turning back of clocks.  Only two days later, the presidential election would rob almost exactly half the country of the candidate they hoped would win. Depending on one's political persuasion, it would be either the best or worst day in a long, long time. But on Sunday, the 6th, the outcome could only be guessed at, prayed for or feared. One thing, however, was certain: the entire populace, left or right or center, had definitely experienced more than enough pundit-pontificating, TV commercials, flyers in mailboxes, exhorting robocalls, tense arguments and an endless barrage … [Read more...]