Join me in a new location

After many stops, starts, and massive life changes, I’m fairly well brimming with desire to write again, and I think I’m finally ready to get back on the proverbial horse. I started a new site over at Substack (I like the simplicity of their dashboard), and if you’re still out there and wondering if there’s a place to read the deranged ramblings of a lunatic who loves classical music, I’m happy to report that I think there actually is.

Head on over to Awful Quarters of an Hour now, if you like, if you dare.

A new experiment

For anyone who may still find themselves encountering this hollowed-out carcass of a blog, I’d like to draw your attention to a new blog I’m starting. It’s called Frightened of the Old Ones, and its premise is simple: I listen to something new and I blather on about it for a couple hundred words. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, I encourage you to head on over there.

Frightened of the Old Ones
This that new shit…

At the summit, does time slow down?

Eine Alpensinfonie is one of the coolest pieces of music in the world. It’s super evocative, filled with typical Straussian majesty, and it has one of the most straightforward and easy to grasp narratives that a symphonic poem could ask for. While there are dozens of amazing spots found throughout the work, it’s somewhat self-evident that the baddest-ass part is when we make it to the top of the mountain. If Bruckner 9 is the music most likely to accompany the final battle between good and evil, then the summit music from Alpensinfonie is probably the most likely music to accompany a victory by the good guys. 

There are plenty of quality recordings of the piece, and many of them do the work justice. Of the readily available ones, I’m partial to the Marek Janowski/Pittsburgh Symphony recording, mostly because the Pittsburgh Symphony plays like they’re climbing the mountain so as to attack all of humankind with a great and wonderful noise. Most recordings take the summit music at a pretty similar clip, keeping things moving along at a moderate clip. 

One recording that I have, though, take their sweet time up there. Some years ago, the legendary Japanese maestro Takashi Asahina released a recording with some sort of pickup Japanese orchestra that billed itself as the “All-Japan Symphony Orchestra.” This recording is separate from the one he released with the Osaka Philharmonic, which is also excellent. Anyway, this All-Japan performance is mind-blowing to me, not the least of which reason is this insane experience at the summit. Asahina goes VERY slow through the entire section, and it feels completely different than any other recording I’ve heard. 

The link below is not to that performance, unfortunately. It’s to a performance that Asahina conducted with the NDR Hamburg back in 1990. The mountaintop music is about as slow as the All-Japan performance, though, which is the point of me writing this in the first place. The execution is pretty rough in the buildup to the climax, but once the climax hits, it’s pretty smooth sailing. I’m curious to hear your thoughts and opinions on the tempo. I love it, and I really think it changes the complexion of the entire piece. It’s definitely not for everyone, though.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think. If you just want to hear the summit music, cue it up to the neighborhood of the 22:50 mark and go from there. Happy climbing!

Asahina – Alpine Symphony

Needless update, Vol. Whatever

True story: I actually do intend to do something or other with this blog, and I haven’t forgotten about it, in spite of the hilarious lack of content in the last year or so. Not very long after my last post, whenever that was, I gave my computer to my sister, who needed a laptop for school and was having issues with her own. Yesterday, I was given as a gift the fancy-time keyboard attachment thing for the iPad that I purchased over the summer or whenever.

Technology being what it is, I could have just as well written some things with my index finger on my phone or tablet, but that would have sucked, quite frankly. Texting is awful, and it would have taken three times as long for me to write something halfway interesting. Plus, as anyone who reads this knows, I ramble on incessantly, and those ramblings would have been significantly more difficult if I was typing them with one finger. Not said, although now I’m about to, is that I pretty much type on a keyboard with three fingers anyway.

In fairness to myself, shit also got super hectic. I changed jobs and house hunted during the last quarter of 2016. We’re moving in January, but then things should settle down some, barring tragedy. It is my sincere hope that I can re-kindle this space, because I have opinions! I might be expanding things a bit to encompass theater and art and shit, since I’ve been doing a lot more of that as well since moving to New York.

Whatever. You and I will believe it when you and I see it. In the meantime, Happy Holidays out there. Also, this keyboard works pretty damned well, I have to say.

Concert alert!

If you find yourselves within range of Oxford, Ohio, please consider setting aside the date of Friday, October 7, 2016. At 7:30 PM, the Miami University Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ricardo Averbach will be performing a concert with music by an actual living musical legend, Samuel Adler, who will be in attendance at the performance, along with Beethoven’s legendary¬†Eroica. You can read more about the concert here.

No pressure, readers from Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati, Columbus, or Dayton, but I mean…it’s right there!

Shit that makes me cry, Volume 1: Nielsen: Symphony no. 1

As a grown man with a job who occasionally pays bills, society tells me that generally speaking I ought not cry. Normally, I take society up on that, encasing my emotions in enough metaphorical lucite to protect that Honus Wagner baseball card. Every so often, though, something comes along and moves me to tears, bringing me untold joy and disappointing 65% of fathers in America. This is one of those somethings…

Years ago, my dear friend Dave McIntire and I listened to all the Nielsen symphonies in one night and wrote retro diaries about them. At that time I was fairly unfamiliar with Nielsen’s symphonies. I knew the famous 4th OK, and I was familiar with the nutso 5th, but the rest were varying degrees of murky. Fast forward four years and I’m a little less murky on some, a little more murky on the 4th and 5th, and desperately in love with the 1st.

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