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  • richardmitnick 6:51 pm on October 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Philip Glass, , ,   

    What’s the deal with Gustav Mahler? 

    What’s the deal with Gustav Mahler?

    I don’t get it. Mahler is one of the most popular composers with the WQXR audience and with the New York Philharmonic audience. I do not understand it.

    10.17.09 This post will be a running journal of my time spent with the Mahler symphonies.

    I note at the outset, I have zero musical training, not even music appreciation courses. I had my father’s introduction to Classical music; back in the 1960’s, I had Sid Mark and Joel Dorn at WHAT Jazz in Philadelphia.

    Today, I have John Schaefer, David Garland, Terrance McKnight and Nadia Sirota for classical teachers at the new WQXR, and for Jazz I have Dan Buskirk and Will Constantine at WPRB, Princeton, NJ. For Jazz I also have everyone at WBGO, Jazz 88, Newark, NJ. And, especially these days for New Music, Marvin Rosen, also at WPRB.

    When I want to immerse myself in some composer’s music, I put it in some order in my Zune software, and then sync it to one of my four 120 gig Zune .mp3 players. I take the player with me on my exercise walks, on planes, to the dentist, wherever. And I listen down through a cycle. If it is Jazz or Rock, Keith Jarrett or Bob Dylan; if it is Philip Glass, or Steve Reich, then I have them in chronological order by year. I just put the year in front of the album name in the ID-3 tagging in Zune or Windows Media Player. If it is one of the older classical greats, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, or, in this case, Gustav Mahler, then I just put the symphonies and concerti in number order. I also have the album art in Zune, icons do help the memory.

    So, I am starting in with the Mahler Symphonies.

    cover

    So, up to date I am through just the 1st and 2nd symphonies, and one movement of the 3rd. I repeat, I just do not get it. First, for me, too much brash brass carrying the main theme. The strings seem secondary. Too almost militaristic. And, no “hooks”, no melodic themes that just grab at you.

    Back in 1993, Stephen Hill at Hearts of Space presented Program No. 332, “Deep Forest: Music of the Rainforest Pygmies”. About this music, he said,

    From sweet child-like solo pieces to angelic group choruses, the Pygmies’ music is intensely melodic and filled with natural hooks….”

    Deep Forest

    Colin Turnbull

    Beethoven is full of hooks. So is Tchaikovsky, Edvard Grieg, Philip Glass, Arvo Part. Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Howard Shore’s music for Lord of the Ring – all hooks. From Mahler I remember nothing. When my friend and I are in the car on the way to go cycling or hiking, we listen – in his car – to Classical music. Very often I can say at least who the composer is, because they seem to have a “footprint” in terms of voicing, rhythm, harmony. All I can think of about Mahler – so far – is LOUD. BRASS. THE WEST POINT PARADE GROUND.

    So, what I would like is for someone, anyone out there who can type and who knows Mahler and enjoys his work, tell me for what I should be listening, help me navigate my way into Mahler.

    I will be continuing this post as I go through the Mahler.

    10.23.09 Well! Into and through the fourth symphony, and viva viva Mahler!! What a difference. Lyric, lilting, a veritable ditty after the first three. Much more do the strings come to the fore and carry the melodies, instead of being almost drowned out by the brass. In the second movement I even heard a short violin solo.

    This was such a surprise that I figured something wonderful must have happened in Mahler’s life. Composers have to have it all in them; but some thing or things must act as a stimulus to bring it out. Did he get married? Divorced? Maybe a new child? Did someone who oppressed him go on to the great beyond?

    So, I hotsied myself over to Wikipedia to compare the chronology of the symphonies with the Maestro’s life. Alas, nothing is apparent.
    I am just happy that I found something more to my liking, and now I can go on with a positive attitude.

    10.30.09 Well, not much outdoor exercise; but a fair amount of the Mahler. The last several days, I was stuck inside in rainy weather. So, Tuesday, I decided to redo the Digiteria.

    IMG_0983Digits galore

    While I did this, I listened to the Symphony No 5 and Symphony No6. The one movement I loved was the slow fourth movement of the No 5. I recognized it right away, from, I think, a Sarah Brightman concert. Today, I got out for a walk with Symphony No 7. It was not as bombastic as the first three; but, alas, nothing to grab me.

    11.4.09 This is just a sad quickie update. I have now been through the first nine Mahler symphonies. I quit. It turns out I do not have the complete tenth symphony. I must say – I am sure it is my loss – Mahler is wasted on me. I just do not get it. I said up above that nothing sticks. For me, there is nothing to stick. No hooks, no repetitions of melodious themes. So, on to to other things.

    I do believe that this is the way to immerse oneself in a composer or performer. Get a lot of the work, it could be Bach, Jimmy Smith, Emerson Lake and Palmer, John Coltrane, Philip Glass, EmmyLou Harris, Miles Davis, Steve Reich. Put them into some sort of date order (easily done for Zune or Windows Media Player by going into Edit in Zune, or Advanced Tag Editor in WMP11 and putting the year in front of the name of the album. Put symphonic works, concerti, etc., in number order.) Then listen on down. Look for the growth. Look for the dynamic. Look for the shifts in compositional style.

    Any comments, please, do not hesitate.

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    • scenebythebrook 10:58 pm on October 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I got into classical music in 2003. In 2004 I started buying a lot of CDs and by the end of that year was familiar with a substantial amount of the first Viennese School and a lot of Rromantics. One of the CDs I bought at the time was Mahler’s 5th symphony conducted by Lorin Mazaal with the Vienna Philharmonic. I listened to piece at least 10 times in the span of several months. I simply did not get it. No catchy melodies stuck out to me, no memorable sequences or great moments. I moved on to other music.

      Around that time I also acquired his fourth symphony. The first three movements didn’t strike out at me, but I fell in love with the final movement — a song. Because of this movement, I continued to give Mahler a chance.

      I bought the first symphony and found it pleasant enough. Some years later, I bought the second and, after repeated hearings, came to love it. I confess that I feel Mahler could be somewhat of a gasbag at times, but I found many moments to admire in second symphony — that part in the fifth movement, for instance, when the orchestra takes up that one theme gloriously and when the chorus enters singing that same theme. I get goosebumps now because of those parts and how now come to appreciate the whole symphony.

      Right now I’m working on the 3rd symphony. The process of acclimation is taking a while but once again I’m warming up to the work. In this work, Mahler threw in everything he had. It’s the longest symphony ever written (about 90 minutes) and, if it’s the case that there’s really only 20 minutes of great ideas/good music here, it’s worth enduring the length to get at those good parts. Maybe the whole of it is great and I’m not perceptive enough to appreciate it yet. After all, that’s how I initially felt about the second symphony and now I find the whole work riveting.

      I expect that when I get around to listening to the Fifth symphony soon I’ll find it more accessible this time.

    • richardmitnick 11:18 pm on October 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks so much for your comments. At least I do not feel like such a jerk. You are putting a lot of time and effort into Mahler.

      “…No catchy melodies stuck out to me, no memorable sequences or great moments….” This is what I meant when I wrote about no hooks, a term admittedly from the pop musical world.

      I will continue on my path and come back when I can to relate my experience.

    • Matt 1:28 am on December 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Mahler is wonderful. He captures the emotion like no other composer can, and he is deeply ironic, which I love. His music ranges from the joyful to complete defeat. I think if you’re going in for a catchy tune, you wont find it. You need to be able to experience it without any other distractions–as if you were in a music hall. Military themes play a huge role since martial music was a huge part of his growing up, and actually, he tortured himself over the 4th–it didn’t come as easily to him as the others. If you’re in a dark, agressive mood, relisten to the 6th again. I think it’s his most successful. And check out Bernstein’s comments on the finale of the 9th on youtube–very enlightening. In conclusion, if you’re looking for a background, sing-song composer, Mahler is not him. He demands, he captures, your full attention.

      • richardmitnick 1:10 pm on December 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Matt-

        Thanks for your comment.

        I am sure that my lack of attraction to Mahler is my own lacking and loss. Surely, he is one of the perennial favorites in the New York City area and at WQXR.

    • qwer0987 12:48 am on December 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      The problem with your approach is simply that Mahler is too long/big. Unless you are a really, really experienced music listener, 1 listen is not going to be enough. Why do you think the music is “on the shelf” sort of speak for 50 years, until LP’s came along? It also doesn’t help that his style is quite diverse, so you can’t simply listen to the cycle for growth like some other composers.

      As for how to listen to Mahler, play it loud. Real loud, and let yourself drown in emotion. The emotion is what makes him stand out compared to other composers. He does love brass a lot, but it isn’t a problem unless for some really you really hate brass.

    • richardmitnick 7:31 am on December 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      qwer0987

      Thanks for your reply. The last first, I do find the brass to be too much for me. As to the rest, you are correct. It is my failure, as I have admitted above. I have taken the Mahler with me on the Zune quite a few times and tried to re-listen. I just cannot get into it, or understand it.

      Thanks again.

    • Justin Lohman 4:14 pm on January 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      See, the beauty of Mahler’s music is that it is extremely subtle in composition at times. Highly complex, but the dynamics are very subtle and unnoticable to the common ear. I compare certain segments of his symphonies to ‘gusts of wind’, ‘birds chearping’, ‘flowers blooming’ or ‘breathing in and out.’ I can understand if people do not like his music. HE happens to be the benevolant god of music in my mind. The important pre-requisite to factor in is that his music is a direct reflection of his personality and his ever shifting moods. He was probably happiest when he was sad, content where most are scared, and hated people and things that he actually probably inherently loved. I do not know if many other composers wrote in that idiom. There are moments in Das Lied (The Song of the Earth) where I am almost certain both him and I have the same vision. [10 min into ‘Abschied’ –if that doesn’t sound like a supernatural experience of a ghost in a cemetery or some other ominous landscape, i don’t know what else does]. The bottom line is that I have been a musician for 12 years or so and I have always been searching for certain dynamics and chord progressions that I could never find in the previous inventory I was exposed until…….I heard the 4th movement of Symphony 5. AMAZING! At the end the song, it sounds like it engages in a noose dive after being airborn for 9 minutes.
      Every Symphony I have heard after Symphony 5- especially 1, 2, 4, 6, and the momumental 8th- have targeted inner emotions and shades, or degrees and levels of emotion that i did not even know was possible. Chances are, while listening to a Mahler piece, if it sounds overly joyous and happy or evil and ominous, the exact opposite emotion is looming right around the corner. He thrives on the irony of ‘binary opposition.’ GENIUS to the fullest degree possible.

    • Brandon 2:53 pm on May 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Believe me when I say that I mean no offense when I say, and at the risk of sounding like an elitist, you are listening all wrong. You aren’t going to fully appreciate any classical piece listening to it with divided attention. Listening while hiking, doing dishes, driving in your car, etc. just isn’t going to work. You have to listen (not just hear the hooks) to the whole of the composition with undivided attention. Aaron Copland, in a book on listening to music, asks the listener a very revealing question: Are you really hearing EVERYTHING that is going on? I.E., if you listen to eight measures of music and can’t hum back exactly what the viola, oboe, horn, etc., are doing then you aren’t hearing everything, and are cheating yourself out of the listening experience. You also cannot fully appreciate any piece of classically composed music, especially one as contrapuntally complex as Mahler, by listening through only once. The thing about Mahler’s music is that there ARE hooks, many of them. They just don’t usually repeat within the same contrapuntal context. Sometimes they are in the foreground of the texture, sometimes they are in the middle or background of the texture. Sometimes they are recapitulated in diminution, sometimes in augmentation, sometimes in inversion, etc. They are mixed with other themes of comparable or incomparable importance. Each voice in the texture (sometimes as much as eight in the thrilling double fugue of the 8th) has a distinct contour and personality, making them completely melodically independent, but, stacked on top of each other they become harmonically interdependent. This is the genius of Mahler. He is arguably the greatest contrapuntalist in the history of classically composed music. Up at the top with Bach. It, of course, helps to have a firm understanding of music theory, orchestration, and fugal technique. The more you understand the better the appreciation. I do, however, know many musical laypersons who can appreciate Mahler, but none of them did within one, two, or even three listens. Mahler requires extra work, but stick with it, believe me, it is worth it!

    • Brandon 3:17 pm on May 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      As an afterthought may I suggest targeting one movement of one symphony, say the Rondo Finale from the Seventh, and listening to it over and over, each time trying to listen to a different part of the texture? The divide and conquer technique might work with Mahler!

    • richardmitnick 4:15 pm on May 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Brandon-

      Thanks for your comments.

      My listening was the most focused it could be, when I am walking, all I concentrate on is the music. Whether it is Mahler, or Philip Glass, or Bob Dylan, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, whoever.

    • Dominic Case 6:57 pm on February 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Please don’t expect to “understand” Mahler right away. His work is too big for that – there is so much happening. I suppose a few people manage to – conductors mostly! As for “hooks”, after a couple of listenings you will find some phrases that you carry away with you that you won’t be able to put down. Mahler never exactly repeats in his recapitulations – there is always a variation, so that makes it a little harder still to know where you are or how a movement is built.
      Stay with it, and as others have said, don’t try to work right through the oevre. That might work with lesser composers, and if you wnat to know about the person not the music. Pick on one symphony (or song cycle) and play it over and over. And remember that Mahler was, apart from everytrhing else, a collector of impressions. The first symphony is a scrapbook of sounds he grew up with – only later does the full force of his harmony, couterpoint and orchestration emerge.

    • richardmitnick 7:21 pm on February 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Dominic-

      Thanks for the comments. I am still listening to Mahler, now one symphony at a time.

    • sh 8:29 pm on October 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Well, there’s always the possibility that you simply don’t care for his music. And whether you do or not, there’s also the possibility that you feel like you should (or that your listening community does, etc. etc.)

      I’ve been involved in music for a few decades now. I took up a more focused interest in symphonic forms in the late 90’s. A series of individual Mahler purchases and eventually the Kubelik box was a part of that. I wanted to hear what all the fuss and talk was about (and there was plenty) and I wanted to better understand what came after; Schoenberg, Berg, etc. So, no noob to challenging listens, I went through much of what you did, had dedicated, couch-borne listening sessions, did my reading and even rented related movies. It’s been over a decade now and ultimately, while I prefer the Zinman set and while there is occasionally a time and place (this October chill often puts me in the mood for No. 7), most of the time I just don’t care for Mahler very much. I don’t like a lot of his orchestration, his phrasing, his sense of drama… just not for me. In fact I found your blog just a week or so ago by one day finally googling “what is the big deal about mahler?” and was delighted and humored to have found this.

      To help you navigate your way through it – I would suggest stepping back and reading and listening to anything about or around your point of focus; history, musical contemporaries, predecessors and students, etc. Juxtapose with Wagner, Strauss and Schoenberg, or even Debussy; read about Jewish life in Europe at the turn of the century, etc. But, unless already driven to do so – why? These are all intellectual validations; if your heart’s not in it, your heart’s not in it, you gave it a go and I don’t think that makes you a ‘jerk’ in the least.

      If it’s scale or epic you’re after, try Bruckner for a change – certain influence but a completely different approach. Or if Mahler’s shrieking wears on you (sorry guys, it just happens), try going the other way and sinking into a deep Brahmsian bass line. But if everyone else is swearing by something and it doesn’t work for you after a few chances, let it go. It’s music, some part of you already knows if you respond to it or not. When something really catches you and takes you to a deeper place, you usually don’t have to try so hard, it’s more like you can’t help it (as I think some of the above replies make clear). And it’s about personal experience, not social judgement – do not confuse popularity or fame (or even prestige) with quality or talent. These are very, very different things that may or may not have anything to do with one another in a given instance. Go flip on the tv to see how that plays out.

      It gets down to this: How does listening to Mahler make you feel?

    • richardmitnick 8:40 pm on October 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, it is quite some time ago that I wrote the post. I had a bunch of helpful comments, I did some more listening. It all just came up short. I am sure it is not Mahler, I am sure it is me. But, for me, too much brass, too much bravado, not enough lyricism.

      Thanks again.

      This blog has become dormant because all of the issues with Classical music and PubRadio just died out. There is very little live beyond the rental of “Classical 24” from Minnesota Public Radio. WQXR, New York, is live hosted, so is WPRB, Princeton. Also WCNY, Syracuse and WCPE, Winston-Salem. Even WGBH’s purchase of WCRB did not remove the “Classical 24” from Boston Public Radio, a shocker in one of the great culture meccas.

      I have moved on the a new blog which looks at the “Downtown New York New Music scene”, and Jazz. Also, I follow some labels for new releases, ECM, Innova, Cuneiform, Blue Note, Cantaloupe, and New Amsterdam. The blog is at http://musicsprings.wordpress.com .

    • Tim Angell 8:46 pm on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      When you’re trying to hear something, or see something, leave your baggage at the door . And don’t try so damn hard.

  • richardmitnick 7:46 pm on June 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Philip Glass   

    What’s Up with Philip Glass – Some Approachable Glass 

    What’s Up with Philip Glass – Some Approachable Glass

    Philip Glass has been for close to five decades one of the most important and successful of American composers. He is generally considered to be a “minimalist“, a term he dislikes.

    He has composed everything from small solo piano pieces to full symphonies. There are film scores and operas. So, what is it that puts so many people off and dismissive of this composer?

    When Lou Harrison was interviewed for American Mavericks, he said of Philip Glass, “the one I like best, or feel closest to, and it’s likely because I know him and like him, and that’s Philip Glass. He’s a good composer and Dennis brought him here… I didn’t like his improvisation on the piano, which was equal temperament triads till I thought I was going to scream, but nonetheless, the orchestral works were stunning. I admire him. He’s an insider artist, there’s no doubt about it, but I do admire him and like him, and he’s a nice man, too….”

    I thought it might be worthwhile to come up with a list of works by Philip Glass which are “approachable”, easier than some others to get into. This list is subjective and not exhaustive.

    Aguas De Amazonia – Brazilian influenced percussion, with the amazing group Uakti, after a visit in Brazil with Paul Simon.
    Aguas Da Amazonia

    Animundi – a sound track for a Godfrey Reggio film
    Anima Mundi

    Etudes for Piano – solo piano. Etudes. What could be hard?
    Etudes for Piano

    Glassworks – nothing could be simpler.
    Glassworks

    The Hours – a film score
    The Hours

    Kronos Quartet – String Quartets No. 2,3,4 & 5
    Kronos Quartet plays Philip Glass

    Solo Piano
    Philip Glass Solo Piano

    So, don’t take my opinion, take the opinion of Lou Harrison. You might not like everything that I like. Everything I listed here is available at Amazon in mp3 (or CD, if you prefer). In the mp3 listings, you can sample each track. Give a listen. Open yourself up to this grand maestro of American music, this American Maverick.

     
    • lorenzmueller 8:33 am on June 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I haven’t listened to many of Glass’s Works, but I can tell you want I don’t like: His tonal phrases, repeated and repeated and repeated, …. For sure, he is a good film music composer, but I would not like to listen to a concert of glass – music.

      • richardmitnick 10:52 am on June 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Wow!! A response and it’s not from my sister.

        Lorenz-

        Thanks so much, maybe a dialogue, maybe someone else will join in also.

        I do understand how those repetitions can become painful. That is what Lou Harrison said. I would never ever suggest to you that you *need* to try harder. That is not what music is about, and it is not what I am about.

        But, I will say, some of the movie music is harder than some of the suggestions I made.
        For example, at a PubRadio station to which I belong, I recommended Aguas da Amazonia to a Classical DJ filling in on a Jazz air shift.

        Thanks for reading, thanks for writing, tell your friends.

        >>RSM

  • richardmitnick 12:46 am on May 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Philip Glass, , , ,   

    Confessional 

    Confessional

    O.K., it is confession time. Last night I sent my 320 gig Passport external hard drive to the dust bin. I tried to copy in a 4 gig video and was out of space. I probably should be embarassed, but, actually, I am quite happy with my collection. I am a collector. Of music in mp3 and video in mp4.

    So, I hotsied myself to Best Buy and picked up a 1TB Western Digital My Book. I fully formatted the disc. No quick formats, please.
    I copied my library, shut down, disconnected both drives, rebooted, cleaned out the libraries in WMP, Winamp and Zune, shut down, reconnected only the new drive, checked the drive letter, re-configured the three players to only monitor the music and video folders on that drive, and re-scanned all three players. The formatting I did overnight, and it took all night. The rest of the work took just a few hours while I was at work, and, actually working while it went on.

    My biggest section is Jazz, 45 gigs, for which I am grateful for the generous help of Steve Rowland. Classical, a meager 16 gigs, but, a very good core collection from Bach through Golijov, and including Partch, Nancarrow, Varese, and Antheil. I have a lot of Jazz concerts recorded in mp3 from WBGO/NPR plus Jazz Profiles available as downloads.My Avantgarde is a highly respectable 20 gigs. But, I include some people there that others might put in Classical, Hovhannes, Schoenberg, John Adams, , and, hey, John Zorn, and Jon Hassel (The afore mentioned Partch, Nancarrow, Varese, and Antheil some might have put in Avantgarde). If you read them in Wikipedia and see from whence they cometh, you might see why I have them in Avantgarde. I have a lot of Zorn. I put Lamont Young there, also. More typical might be David Diamond, Elliot Carter, Henry Brant (nine DVD set from Innova, thank you very much). Stockhausen, Michael Gordon (Trance and Decasia from BOAC in mp3), Milton Babbitt, Boulez (really, I have some Boulez) and Robert Moran.

    In other genres, I have all of Enigma, all of Dead Can Dance (thank you Hearts of Space) , some Electronica where I got help from John Schaefer and Stephen Hill, a whole bunch of New Sounds and Soundcheck programs, all of the American Mavericks audio interviews, plus the interviews by Philip Blackburn for Innova at “Measure for Measure” and “Alive and Composing“. The interviews go on my Zune for my exercise walks, on the plane to California, to the dentist, wherever.

    I have a lot of Rock and a lot of Rock concerts, some ripped from my own DVD’s, some from unnamed sources.

    Videos, egad. Bob Dylan, the Scorsesi “No Direction Home” four hours, the Pennebaker “Don’t Look Back” four hours and the Dylan at Newport 1963-65 Murry Lerner film; all of Ken Burns Jazz series; Bernstein’s Freedom Concert, the PBS version and a European version with no pitching, plus the PBS “Leonard Bernstein-Reaching for the Note”; Rolling Stones “Steel Wheels’ concert; every inch of Traveling Wilburys video I could find; some Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Sting and the Police; Buena Vista Social Club; Calle 54 (all about Latin Jazz); an ELO concert; from PBS a Philip Glass documentary and a Jerome Robbins documentary; Paul Simon a Graceland Concert and a Rhythm of the Saints concert, this last, HBO, Concert in the Park, NYC);an MJQ concert, the Qatsi Trilogy; Cream; a Pink Floyd concert; Weather Report at Monteux 1976; U-2 Rattle & Humm (with the New Voices of Freedom choir on “I still Haven’t Found what I’m Looking For” , and some assorted others. Videos are a mere 84 gigs.

    So, that’s my confession. I am a collector. Who need 80 Jimmy Smith albums? Hey, he’s great. And, I have a Jimmy Smith video with a very young Donald Bailey on drums. Terrific.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:06 pm on April 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Philip Glass   

    Philip Glass for the Uninitiated 

    Philip Glass for the Uninitiated

    I am here today to recommend some works by Philip Glass for those not familiar with the Master. Or, maybe you tried some Glass and quit.

    Philip Glass : Aguas da Amazonia
    Aguas da Amazonia

    This is Philip with the Brazilian group Uakti. It is very percussive, as one would expect with music from Amazonia. It is very listenable.

    From Wikipedia, “…Uakti (WAHK-chee) is a Brazilian instrumental musical group that is composed of Marco Antônio Guimarães, Artur Andrés Ribeiro, Paulo Sérgio Santos, and Décio Ramos. Uakti is known for using custom-made instruments, built by the group itself.

    The name

    The name of the group comes from a Tukano native South American legend. Uakti was a mythological being who lived on the banks of the Rio Negro. His body was full of holes, which, when the wind passed through them, produced sounds that bewitched the women of the tribe. The men hunted down Uakti and killed him. Palm trees sprouted up in the place where his body was buried, and the people used these to make flutes that made enchanting sounds like those produced by the body of Uakti….”

    At Amazon, the CD i US$14.99. The mp3 download is US$8.99

    Philip Glass : Saxophone
    Philip Glass Saxophone

    Philip Glass,The Rascher Saxophone Quartet, Andrew Sterman, The Philip Glass Ensemble Woodwinds

    The works are:
    1. Concerto for Saxophone (Quartet Version)
    2. Melodies for Saxophone
    3. The Windcatcher

    This is very approachable music.

    At Amazon the CD is US$17.99. The mp3 download is US$8.99

    At Amazon, one can pretty much always preview the tracks at the mp3 site for the album.

    I hope that some of you will give this music a chance.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:13 pm on April 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Philip Glass   

    Philip Glass on American Masters 

    Philip Glass on American Masters

    I am endlessly fascinated by Philip Glass and his music. I do not remember when it started. It must have started with John Schaefer and New Sounds at WNYC. I bought my first LP in a used record shop in Ithaca, New York while visiting Eric at Cornell University. That was in 1984. When did New Sounds start? I am still fascinated today. Some people feel that Glass has written and re-written the same thing over and over. I cannot feel that way. I just recently acquired a pretty complete library of the music. Somehow, I think that Symphony No. 7 is missing. I do not know how that happened. I also have the complete Qatsi film trilogy.

    The American Masters production on the life of Philip Glass is very worthwhile: Philip at home; Philip with his kids and with Holly, his wife; Philip at work in his writing spaces; Philip in rehearsal mostly with Dennis Russell Davies, but also with the Philip Glass Ensemble; Philip in Australia; Philip at the Metropolitan Opera for “Barbarians”. There are short spots with film creators with and for whom he has worked: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Godfrey Reggio, and Errol Morris.

    There is nothing that I can write here that would be missing from the Wikipedia entry on Philip Glass, except my own observations. I see the music as being very simple in the way that Wagner is simple. Simple easily understood melodies. Philip seems to me to work with “very few elements”, a phrase used by Arvo Part to describe much of his “tintinabulation”. But it is also mind-blowingly complex in the orchestrations. In conversation with Davies in the back of a limousine Philip evidences his constant willingness to add or subtract in any passage at any time. An instrument here, a figure there.

    Music is for Philip Glass an “…endless passion for all aspects of his life…”, I think that is how Holly describes it. Toward the end of the film, one learns that with Philip, as with many people gifted and obsessed in the way that Philip is, life around him can be lonely for the others to whom he should be the closest. Is he married to Holly or Davies? This is a silly question, but it is there.

    I highly recommend this film for anyone at all interested in music of the late 20th century.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:59 pm on April 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Philip Glass   

    Marvin Rosen Shines Presenting Philip Glass 

    Marvin Rosen Shines Presenting Philip Glasss

    Kudos (is it “props” these days?) to Marvin Rosen for his presentation of the Philip Glass/Robert Moran Opera “The Juniper Tree”. Marvin told us that this was the broadcast premier, and that it actually used a recording of the 1985 live debut of the work. The work will be released by Orange Mountain Music and will carry the number OMM0057. The publisher has a link to Amazon for the work; but as of yet it does not show up in their listings.

    Orange Mountain describes itself as a new record company devoted to the works of Philip Glass.

    The Juniper Tree

    It is 2009, but this is Glass in 1985, at the height (or most base, if you prefer) of his creativity.

    My purpose here is not to praise Philip Glass, but to praise Marvin. His presentation was as clear and organized as that of Margaret Juntwait, previously at WNYC, New York Public Radio, who is now the radio voice of the Metropolitan Opera. Man, am I glad that she got that job.

    Marvin is always extremely well prepared and efficient in his presentation of music on his two programs “Classical Discoveries” and “Classical Discoveries Goes Avantgarde.” He wastes no words and he wastes no time.

    One is forced to wonder at the twenty-four year delay in getting this work out to the public. I am not an opera fan, yet I found that some familiarity with Philip Glass made the music highly approachable.

    Thank you, Marvin, for bringing this work into our world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:43 pm on March 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Philip Glass,   

    Marvin Rosen of WPRB Announces Special Programming 

    Marvin Rosen of WPRB Announces Special Programming

    Marvin Rosen of WPRB

    announces the following special programming:

    A 3 hour special Holiday program “Sacred Bridges” on Tuesday, April 7 beginning at 5:30 am. The show will be devoted to the music of the three major monotheistic religions (Jewish, Christian and Muslim). This Wednesday, April 1, 2009 5:30-8:30am EDT

    Featured will be the world premiere broadcasts of the following 2 works:
    Ofer Ben-Amots (Israel/United States, 1955- ) The Klezmer Concerto (2006)
    Alan Hovhaness (United States, 1911-2000) Suite for Oboe and Bassoon, Op. 23 (1949)
    also on the program
    Fazil Say (Turkey, 1970- )Violin concerto “1001 Night in Harem” (2008)
    and,
    This Wednesday, April 1, 2009 from 11:00 till 13:00
    “CLASSICAL DISCOVERIES GOES AVANT-GARDE”
    The regular avant-garde programming will be preempted for the following special:
    the world premiere broadcast of:
    Philip Glass and Robert Moran
    The Opera
    The Juniper Tree

    WPRB

    Now, a certain PubRadio Classical music personality, whose name I can never seem to get, encourages listeners to tell friends and family in other time zone that they should listen and, if necessary, he says that they can timeshift the programming. That would be cool. Does anyone know what he means?

    Anyway, thanks, Marvin, for the programming and for clueing us in.

     
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