Tuesday, May 06, 2008

In the top 1,500!

I am, that is. Among Amazon book reviewers. So, if you want to see what I like and dislike, beyond a few reviews I’ve recently posted on the blog, click the link!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Will the real Friedrich Schiller please exhume himself?

For almost a century, since a second skull was exhumed from a mass grave where German poet Freidrich Schiller was buried, German scientists and historians have debated which skull is genuine.

Now we have the DNA answer: Neither one.

Why I won't be renewing my DSO season tickets

First, even among “warhorse” composers, the DSO had neglected a number of them for years if not decades.

When is the last time it played a Chopin piano concerto? A Schubert symphony besides the Unfinished? Much by von Weber or Franck? A Verdi overture or two?

Amongst modern Americans, but of the no-longer-living, there’s PLENTY of folks besides Barber. That includes Roger Sessions, William Schumann, Walter Piston and Alan Hovhaness off the top of my head.

As for 20th-century composers, besides my beloved Alfred Schnittke, the DSO is out of the loop on Nikolai Myaskovsky, Ernst Krenek, Paul Hindemith, and at least a snippet of Stockhausen, among others.

As for stuff to retire for at least five years?

Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations. If you must hear some variations on the Paganini Caprice, try Szymanowski’s.

Pictures at an Exhibition. If you most play it, use somebody’s orchestration besides Ravel’s. Try Stokowski’s for the lush Romantic sound. Or Sarasate for a more modern version than Ravel.

Brahms First Symphony. If you need Brahms, when was the last time his Second, not first, Piano Concerto was done here.

And, ticket prices continue to go up faster than at least the nominal rate of inflation. The Pick Four deal from this year didn’t get offered for 2008-09 or I might have sprung. Unfortunately, the Fort Worth Symphony doesn’t offer a smaller package than the full-season 10-concert deal.

They could stand to add two performances, as their rep continues to grow, and make it a 12-concert season with two split packages.

Oh, beyond that, though, and back to Dallas.

Audience behavior, such as coughing (by people who apparently think the cough drops in the lobby aren’t for them), shuffling of feet, etc., is getting worse, I think. How about adding this to the “turn off your cell phone” announcements?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Here’s my theory on the ‘enigma’ of Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

Having just gotten home from my final concert of this year’s Dallas Symphony Orchestra season, where Enigma was on the program, I offer these thoughts.

It’s a homage to, or reflection upon, rather than calling it a variation on, the Dies Irae opening.

Of course, in addition to some differences in note intervals, it’s in a major key.

That’s why each individual variation is named after a friend of Elgar’s. Rather than a reflection on their deaths, or last judgments, though, it’s a reflection on their lives, with the “positive” angle of the major key.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Haiku homage to Hume

Fleeting sensations
Momentary thought patterns
Consciousness wisps.

Like smoke, nothing is
Apprehendable; like fog,

The wisps come and go
With no quantum gap between;
I can’t find myself.

Psychologist Hume
Metaphysician Descartes
A Scottish triumph.

With no I to think
Or outreason the Frenchman
What ‘Hume’ really won?