Today’s forecast in Kansas City calls for Siege of Leningrad temperatures with wind chills below zero, so what better way to spend one’s time than by reliving one of the most horrific events in human history through the sounds of Dmitri Shostakovich? Valery Gergiev and the Marinsky Theater Orchestra provide the performance. Crank that volume up.
It’s been a long, strange gap between top 10 lists here at Everything But the Music, mostly because I like to tell myself that I’m busy and don’t have as much time as I’d like to dedicate to writing. The truth is that I’m lazy and these are a lot of work to compile, fun as they may be. At any rate, with the incredible success the previous lists enjoyed (tens of page views!), I figured now was as good a time as any to dive back in and give the fans what they want, or perhaps the exact opposite of what they want depending on your viewpoint. Without further ado, here it is: the definitive, inarguable list of the ten best symphonies numbered 2. Continue reading
Inspired by a Twitter live blog involving Sibelius’ Fourth Symphony and a string of Esa-Pekka Salonen insults from two of the raddest “follows” a person could have, @loganvw and @hamtron5000, hidden deep within this message is a superb performance of the the Fourth to counterbalance whatever monstrosity they heard last night. Presumably a brief diatribe on the work in question is in order, and as a tribute to my overwhelming laziness I’m simply going to copy and paste my thoughts on Sibelius 4 from my moderately interesting countdown of the 10 best Symphonies no. 4.
Quoth myself: Continue reading
Last Friday night the Kansas City Symphony awoke from a long winter’s nap to perform Mahler’s massive Symphony no. 6. Dubbed “Tragic” by someone who wasn’t Mahler but endorsed by someone who was, the Sixth is an emotional tour-de-force that provides the ultimate musical test for both conductor and orchestra. Like a kid who eats tuna and listens to Mozart the night before the SATs and like the opposite of an Amy Winehouse toxicology report, conductor Michael Stern and the members of the Symphony passed with flying colors. Continue reading
Sometime yesterday this blog received its 50,000th page view. I have no idea what that means, but anytime we pass round numbers in life we reflexively take stock of what’s come before and what’s theoretically to come after. I started Everything but the Music over four years ago and its purpose has essentially remained the same since that time; it’s a space for me to ramble at length about classical music (and whatever else may come up) because there aren’t enough outlets for me to get all the dreadfully uninteresting things I want to say out of my head using human interaction and coffee/beer. Now that we’ve established that I’m clearly very important, it’s time to take a look ahead into what may come down the path in the future.
Transcriptions are a funny thing in the world of music. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, and whether or not they do can largely be determined by the simple matter of who or what they’re transcribed for. Bach organ works work pretty well dressed up for full orchestra, which is why important and fancy-time composers like Mahler, Elgar, and Schoenberg have all transcribed Bach (to say nothing of Stokowski’s famous versions as well). Pictures at an Exhibition, a pretty successful piano piece, is one of the all-time amazing orchestral transcriptions, thanks to Ravel being a genius orchestrator. The list goes on and on, from Wagner operas and Beethoven symphonies arranged for the piano to string quartet versions of Led Zeppelin and Metallica. Continue reading
This was apparently performed in memory of Ingmar Bergman. That’s cool I guess. Mostly, Roland Pontinen plays with incredible style and control and this is probably one of the five most beautiful things ever written. Warning: may cause reflection upon the direction of one’s life.