Something cool you might have missed: Swedish Rhapsody no. 3 by Hugo Alfven

Hugo Alfven

...will be played by Anthony Quinn...

In the last couple months, I’ve made references to the music of Hugo Alfven.  He cracked the top 10 of the Symphonies no. 3 countdown, which I’m sure thrilled the folks at the Alfven Society.  And I compared him to a non-BCS football team in a rhapsody showdown, implying he was the dark horse that could probably take the whole cake if given the opportunity.  And the piece with which he could achieve that victory is the Swedish Rhapsody no. 3, also known as the Dalecarlian Rhapsody. Continue reading

Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and art of the remake

Leatherface

The American moviegoing public has been “treated” to an array of remakes over the last ten years or so.  Some probably come with the best of intentions, like taking Clash of the Titans from effects that can gently be described as “kids educational programming about dinosaurs” to action-packed if still awful CGI bonanza.  Some are intended to be vehicles for contemporary actors, like Steve Martin in The Pink Panther, even though we’ll find ten Michael Jordans before we ever find another Peter Sellers.  Many of them have been updated accounts of classic horror movies, like the one where the Green Lantern guy was in The Amityville Horror.  Occasionally the remake is an unquestioned improvement on the original: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Ocean’s 11, Scarface for instance.  Sometimes a debate rages as to which version is superior: The Seven Samurai vs. The Magnificent Seven is the one I will fight a man over (hint – one of them has Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Horst Buchholz in it…end of debate).  Most of the time, though, the remake is not an improvement, and in fact is a cataclysmic waste of time and resources, with Tim Burton’s miserable Planet of the Apes being the worst of the bunch in spite of Marky Mark’s presence in the film.  Music has its share of remakes too, from the good (“All Along the Watchtower” for example) to the dreadful (Limp Bizkit’s cover of “Behind Blue Eyes” for that shitty Halle Berry movie). Continue reading

Not music-related in any way

Klay Thompson

Is named Klay.

Tonight was the NBA Draft.  My beloved Warriors selected a guy who looks almost completely white, but I guess isn’t all the way.  He looks to be a hell of a shooter, and he’s a legit 6’6”, which is all nice.  The sad thing is that, according to every expert I’ve seen, this spells the end of the Monta Ellis era in Oakland.  If that’s the case, I’m going to be a sad and partially angry panda.  Monta will just be the latest in a long line of Warriors players who were a) our best player at the time and b) shipped out.  I still think about Chris Webber bolting after one season.  I remember getting an Antawn Jamison jersey when he said he wanted to stay and get the Warriors back to the playoffs only to see him traded less than a year later for a package that included something called Evan Eschmeyer.  Then we traded our only recognizable star, Jason Richardson, for Brandan Wright and a huge trade exception.  We didn’t use the trade exception and traded Brandan Wright after wrecking his value as much as possible.  As I typed this paragraph, the Warriors retroactively traded Rick Barry, Nate Thurmond, Chris Mullin, and Al Attles.

Monta is such a fun guy to watch.  He has a bad reputation on defense, but I think it’s because he plays all the God damn time (led the league in minutes the last two years).  He can score on anybody, anywhere, anytime.  That’s not easy to replace, no matter how much they try and say that it is.  Because I’m bummed, I thought it might make me feel better to look back on the only playoff appearance the Warriors have made since I was 13 (I’m almost dead now, so it’s been a long time).

Back in 2007, the Warriors won 9 of their last 10 games to squeak into the playoffs (they gelled after trading Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy, two of the whitest players of their generation, for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington, two of the least white).  They took down Dirk and the Mavericks, who had won 67 games in the regular season, in the first round before getting hammered by the Jerry Sloan pick-and-roll express.  But in the lone game the Warriors won in the Jazz series, this happened:

BTW, we antagonized and alienated Baron Davis enough to make him sign elsewhere, thanks to a power struggle between the GM and the team president, both of whom have since been fired (although the much worse of the two held on far longer than any of us could fathom). But that dunk!  Right in Andrei Kirilenko’s crew cut and Subaru Outback!  I love the announcer…totally goes apeshit, as he should have.  I’ll just be over here watching this 1,447 times to feel better.  Fare thee well, Monta Ellis.  You deserve better, but God dammit.

Happy Father’s Day, Jack Klackner

Roscoe's

On the 5th day, God created Roscoe's. And it was so.

Growing up in Las Vegas was an occasionally frustrating situation for a kid who was new to the world of classical music.  The Las Vegas Philharmonic has an on again/off again relationship with existence, and during most of my youth it was off again.  There were occasional performances by local groups, including a B Minor Mass that somehow got messed up about 20 minutes after the chosen intermission, leading to the conductor starting the half over again.  There was the Las Vegas Summer Music Festival, which had some really nice performances, but it too struggled to have a pulse.  It was a pity, because there were some wickedly talented players in town (there still are, as some of the big Strip shows have reverted back to using live bands).

Every now and again, orchestras on tour would come through Artemus Ham Hall at UNLV (which supposedly had amazing acoustics, although I don’t remember thinking that exactly).  But this was Vegas, and there was no way that Danielle Gatti and the Royal Philharmonic doing Mahler 5 would draw a crowd.  Ditto Ashkenazy and the DSO Berlin with Shostakovich 10.  I mean, I know Sammy Davis Jr. was still alive, but Jesus, you’d think a city of well over a million people could scrape together 2,000 to enjoy some of the finest music by some of the finest performers in the history of the galaxy. Continue reading

I do not play no rock and roll

The Blues.

Like any reasonable music lover, I listen to and have opinions on a lot of different styles.  I have every Styx album ever made.  I think Oscar Peterson is the greatest jazz musician ever to walk the Earth.  I really dig Zeppelin, especially Zeppelin IV and Physical Graffiti.  I swore that there would never be a rap producer to equal Dr. Dre (or Pete Rock or DJ Premier for that matter), but I’m fairly certain that ten years from now we will all acknowledge that Kanye West is the best of them all.  I love the Black Keys, and will argue that Dan Auerbach is a 66-year-old black man in spite of clear evidence to the contrary.   Continue reading

I was at a concert: Grieg, Beethoven, Schumann

Juanjo Mena

Mena. Juanjo Mena.

Juanjo Mena will be succeeding one of my favorite conductors, Gianandrea Noseda, as the Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic beginning with the 2011-2012 season.  His was a name I had seen on the internets, but his was not a conductor whose work I had seen or heard.  Judging by the exciting performance he led with the Kansas City Symphony this past weekend (and by the fact that he will be conducting the orchestra affiliated with a broadcasting organization based out of a town called Media City UK), it is likely I will hear from him again. Continue reading