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
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.
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!
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.
As I noted in a comment, posting has been sparse due to a) the summertime being a God damned cultural wasteland, even in New York City, and b) my current job is like if a prosecuting attorney was also responsible for being the court reporter, which is to say I type all day every day. However, that’s going to change beginning in October, and I hope to resume posting with greater frequency. As fate would have it, that’s about when cultural activities pick up again, and lo, there are many things on the horizon that have piqued my interest.
The focus of this blog will also be shifting slightly, only in the sense that I have a couple new ideas that I’d like to try out, the ultimate goal of which is to start coalescing things into a possible book that I’m threatening to put together. Obviously no one is going to publish a book written by me, but if nothing else, it will be a jumbled mess of papers that they can burn at the same time as my body upon my death. Or they can scotch tape a flash drive containing the manuscript to the urn where my ashes will be displayed by the person denoted in my will, which is actually a reader of this blog chosen by a computer simulation model based on which of you would be most like the child that I could have had but didn’t.
See you in the coming days, weeks, months, etc., friends.
Westerns are a treasure trove of baller ass whistling. In my opinion, this is the tops:
Gunmen of the Rio Grande
Bonus from this song…listen to the terrifying sound of brassy trumpet and mandolin play in unison. It’s a Philip K Dick story as sound.
A week ago Saturday brought to a close the New York Philharmonic season as far as my attendance is concerned. It’s been a pretty disappointing first year for symphony concerts here in the Northeast in my opinion. Good-and-occasionally-very-good-but-not-great performances of Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner, and Beethoven (James Ehnes excepted!) from the NYPO, the bullet-riddled corpse of Schumann 4 in Philly, and a respectable but ultimately unspectacular Rachmaninov 2 from the band on the Jersey side left me wondering just when the Phil was going to bring the pain and fucking represent as their reputation suggested they should have been doing all along. I got my wish thanks to John Storgards and the genius that is Sibelius.