Maurice Ravel is a practitioner of the Dark Arts and all manner of sorcery!

I mean Jesus, that’s a well-coiffed gentleman

If I had a gun to my head and was asked who the greatest composer of all-time was, three things would happen. First, I would say “you’re the most intense classical music fan I ever met, man.” Second, I would say “please disregard that urine smell.” Finally, I would say “I think it might be Maurice Ravel.” The first of those two statements would likely be consistent regardless of when I was asked the question with a gun to my head, but the final one might vary depending on what day you ask me. Pretending that the day is today? I’m going with Maurice Ravel. I’m clearly under the influence of some kind of spell cast by a dead French person. Someone help me. But don’t actually, I’m good. Continue reading

Something to listen to: Don Juan

Richard Strauss circa 1888

A great deal is often made about musical precocity, especially when it comes to Mozart and Mendelssohn (and to a MUCH lesser extent Korngold). The notion of these genius composers writing music when they’re young children is somehow a sign that their intrinsic gifts surpass those of much more “normal” composers who struggle for years mastering the art of composition (like Bruckner, for example). Is Don Giovanni MORE genius than Bruckner 9? Not really, but Mozart is regarded as a pseudo-mythological genius. And the most interesting part about it is that this perception stems from his adorable-for-a-4-year-old-but-not-exactly-amazing childhood compositions and not from his this-music-has-forever-altered-the-course-of-human-history mature compositions. Continue reading

Live blog: The Complete Sibelius Symphonies

C.R.E.A.M. get the money. Dollar dollar bill y’all.

Excessive amounts of free time allow for excessively random things like listening to the complete symphonies of Sibelius in one night. And if you’re gonna go for it, you might as well go for it: what follows is a live blog of my personal encounter with the music of the Man from Up North. Seven symphonies. Seven conductors. Seven orchestras. Four different formats. Prepare yourself for 3400 words of stream-of-consciousness inanity. Here we go… Continue reading