Something cool you might have missed: Oriental Rhapsody by Alexander Glazunov

Glazunov

Alexander Glazunov looking like the most dangerous tuberculosis victim of all-time.

It’s been eons since I’ve had the time to post anything in this space, and I’ve been feeling the effects of writer’s withdrawal. This condition has been an absolute plague based on the simple fact that I’m a horrible writer and therefore should feel better when NOT writing, but what can I say? Since I last wrote anything of substance the NCAA Tournament started, the Republicans have had something like 71 primary elections, and my interest has been piqued by a movie called “The Hunger Games” that looks to have the appealing plot of teenagers killing one another for the pleasure of adults (something I occasionally fantasize about when thinking of flash mobs and the junior prom).

At any rate, the other major development recently has been the acquisition of my first real acceptable stereo system, complete with receiver, floor speakers, and turntable. I already tested it out with the original instrumentation Royal Fireworks Music, and I’m pleased to report that it sounds pretty nice. Last night I was even able to corral Sandy to sit down and listen to Janacek’s masterful Taras Bulba, which I believe she enjoyed (we both really like Gogol). After that, I had it in my mind to listen to something else, but it was getting late, so I stopped after the first movement of a piece that I hadn’t listened to in some time and decided I was going to write about it because it’s just that cool. That piece is the Oriental Rhapsody by Alexander Glazunov.

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The 2011 Everything But the Music Awards, part 1

Happy New Year!

The official mascot of the 2011 Everything But the Music awards, a teddy bear so fucked up on champagne that he looks like he may have raped and murdered someone last night but can't remember the details

With the new year rapidly approaching, and by rapidly approaching I mean here already, every publication, news program, radio show, and 16-year-old-girl’s diary are presenting their annual “The Year in ______” lists. I wish I had the kind of job where I could make a credible “The Year in Music” list, but I don’t and I’m not entirely sure I ever will. But I can make a “My Year in Music” list and nobody can really say shit about it because the word “my” is right there in the title. What to put in my list? I will likely include discussions of superlative performances and recordings in a mock-awards format in which no actual prizes will be given away or even considered for that matter, with the exception of the sheer prestige of being acknowledged by this blog. Perhaps I will include some random thoughts about things that don’t have anything to do with this year. Most importantly, I will bring a whiff of nostalgia and a smile to my own face thinking back on what was, even as I realize that I continue to march inexorably toward the brittle and cold embrace of death. Anyway, over the next little while, I’ll be presenting the first and quite possibly last annual Everything But the Music Awards in this space. Here we go!

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The top 10 composers of all-time

Sebastian Bach

Bach?

This week, Anthony Tommasini, the classical music critic of the New York Times, unveiled the culmination of his project to select the Top 10 composers of all-time. First of all, as someone who loves to rank things, I applaud the entire endeavor. Making arbitrary lists in this space isn’t that big a deal, because very few people read it. But doing it in the pages of the New York Times requires a certain amount of intellectual courage. Not only must you contend with people picking apart your arguments, but you must also contend with people picking apart the very concept of having the argument in the first place (best demonstrated by one of the comments that read, “Sorry, but top 10 lists should be beneath those who care about the arts.” Why do people think many classical music fans are uptight snobs?). A couple common criticisms emerged from Tommasini’s criteria: the limited stylistic range of composers (no pre-Baroque and no contemporary composers) and, much more elementally, the subjectivity of greatness. Continue reading