Saturday, August 29, 2009

The End of Summer - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Dear Readers,

So nice to see you again.

I've been very busy with work...

and now...

not so much.

So I thought perhaps an update was over due.

I got a hold of Stieg Larsson's

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Loved it!

Could not put it down.

Consumed it quickly with gusto.

Loved characters Blomkvist and his side kick Salander.

Loved the setting, story and pace.

Immediately ordered

the 2nd offering in this Millennium Trilogy,

The Girl Who Played With Fire.

I cannot wait to treat myself to it

and I highly recommend these books to you.

They've already been produced on Swedish TV and there is interest from Hollywood.

I would love to see these films as well.

A couple films I was not thrilled with...

Thought I'd treat myself to a guilty pleasure.

Picked up a copy of Duplicity to watch at home.

Began watching this stunning couple,

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen,

and was really not too moved.

As much as I like them and the exotic locals etc...

I did not feel impelled to concern myself with plot twist after plot twist.

I watched the first hour, turned it off with the intention of watching the rest later.

Then didn't.

Another movie that did nothing for me...

the highly acclaimed blockbuster

District 9.

Went to see it a week ago and after around an hour of it just had to leave.

Again, I really didn't care enough about the characters, or the message,

to withstand all the slurping sounds.

Speaking of slurping sounds...

I did have a nice meal, with a beautiful woman,



in Alexandria, VA

a couple days ago.

Virginia Soft Shell Crab
with black chickpea puree, fresh beans, shaved celery & saffron vinaigrette

"brandade" Crusted Halibut
with smashed fingerling potatoes (ouch!), cipollini onions
tender greens & red wine butter

Corn Meal Crisp
with local peaches and blackberries,
and sweet corn ice cream

The room, the meal, the service all good.

The company very nice.

As always,

I've been listening to many recordings

and looking forward to the release of others.

I can't wait to get my hands on upcoming

ECM releases:

Manfred Schoof - Resonance

Stefano Bollani - Stone in the Water

Jan Garbarek Group - Dresden - In Concert

Another fine ECM recording,

The Julia Hulsmann Trio's The End of Summer, is appropriate to mention now.

You'll find really nice Evans-esque trio playing.

They even do a beautiful rendition of Seal's

Kiss From A Rose.

Something I'm rather fond of.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Masterpieces all, what do they have in common?

Picasso - Guernica

da Vinci - Mona Lisa

Michelangelo - Pieta

Bruegel the Elder - The Fall of the Rebel Angels

Velasquez - Rokeby Venus

Michelangelo - David

Rembrandt - Night Watch

All of them have been attacked.

How peculiar.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Great Rock

When I first heard these guys on Letterman

I was really blown away.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on their recording.


from the first strum,

to the last beautifully harmonized vocal,

I was hooked.

These five guys:

  • Robin Pecknold - lead vocals, guitar
  • Skyler Skjelset - lead guitar
  • Christian Wargo - bass, guitar, vocals
  • Casey Wescott - keyboards, vocals
  • Josh Tillman - drums, vocals, arrangements

took me back to the innocence and idealism

of the late 60s and early 70s

with sounds that reminded particularly

of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

At times singer Robin Pecknold also sounds a bit like

Jon Anderson of Yes.

This is a fine recording that is not to be missed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

New Music by Mozart

Researchers Unveil Mozart Piano Pieces in Austria

Published: August 2, 2009

Filed at 11:54 a.m. ET

SALZBURG, Austria (AP) -- Mozart's momentous legacy grew still larger Sunday as researchers unveiled two piano pieces recently identified as childhood creations by the revered composer.

The works -- an extensive concerto movement and a fragmentary prelude -- are part of ''Nannerl's Music Book,'' a well-known manuscript that contains the Austrian master's earliest compositions, the International Mozarteum Foundation revealed while presenting the pieces in Mozart's native Salzburg.

''We have here the first orchestral movement by the young Mozart -- even though the orchestral parts are missing -- and therefore it's an extremely important missing link in our understanding of Mozart's development as a young composer,'' Mozarteum's research leader, Ulrich Leisinger, said.

Mozart, who was born in 1756, began playing the keyboard at age 3 and composing at 5. By the time he died of rheumatic fever on Dec. 5, 1791, he had written more than 600 pieces.

Leisinger said Mozart likely wrote the two newly attributed pieces when he was 7 or 8 years old, with his father, Leopold, transcribing the notes as his son played them at the keyboard.

A series of analyses confirmed the writing as Leopold's, and at the time Mozart was not yet versed in musical notation. But Leopold himself was ruled out as the author of the pieces based on stylistic scrutiny, the Mozarteum said in a statement.

''There are obvious discrepancies between the technical virtuosity and a certain lack of compositional experience,'' it said.

At Sunday's presentation at the Mozart residence, Austrian musician Florian Birsak, an expert on early keyboard music, played the two pieces on the maestro's own fortepiano for a throng of reporters, photographers and camera crews.

Both works were identified as part of a larger investigation of the foundation's Mozart-related materials, including letters, documents and more than 100 music manuscripts -- some in the hand of the composer, others transcribed by contemporaries.

While ''Nannerl's Music Book'' has been in the foundation's hands for more than a century, the pieces were considered anonymous creations until Leisinger and his team took a closer look.

''These two pieces struck us because they were so extravagant,'' Leisinger said, adding that the two works share a number of similarities but that the prelude -- believed to have been written after the concerto movement -- was ''much more refined.''

''One could almost get the impression that Leopold said to his son, 'look, you've written this crazy concerto movement, try to do it better, a little bit more concise,' and as a result we ended up with this prelude-like movement,'' he said.

Posthumous discoveries of Mozart pieces are rare but not unheard of.

In September, Leisinger announced that a French library had found a previously unknown piece handwritten by Mozart.

That work, described as the preliminary draft of a musical composition, was found in Nantes, in western France, as library staff members went through its archives. Leisinger said the library contacted his foundation for help authenticating the work.

The latest finds add ''important details'' to what we know about the young Mozart's work, said Christoph Wolff, professor of music history at Harvard University, who is also director of the Bach Archive in Leipzig, Germany.

''The Salzburg discovery offers significant insight into the earliest accomplishments of Mozart,'' Wolff said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

The Salzburg-based foundation, established in 1880 and a prime source for Mozart-related matters, seeks to preserve the composer's heritage and find new approaches for analyzing him.


On the Net:

International Mozarteum Foundation:

(Thanks to the AP)