Saturday, March 16, 2019

Daniel del Pino and Habemus Quartet - Contemporary and Consonant

This release is the result of an international competition for consonant chamber music. The works are all set in a tonal framework, but there's nothing trite or conventional about them. These are all compositions of substance.

Andreas Foivos Apostolou's "Metamorphoses for Piano Solo" starts off the program. This Grecian composer's work uses polyrhythms and chord clusters to create a sense of dynamic energy that is as enjoyable as it is exciting.

Russian composer Pavel Karamanov has a gift for melody. His work for viola and piano "Second Snow on the Stadium" has an elegiac quality to it.

The String Quartet No. 1 of Latino-American Jose Gonzalez Granero uses advanced techniques to create an intricate cloud of sound. Yet its modal harmonies help provide a point of reference for the ear.

Elana Kats-Chernin hails from Uzbekistan. Her "Dance of the Paper Umbrellas" for piano quartet reminded me of Philip Glass. A more lyrical version of Glass, that is.

"Con Moto for String Quartet" is by Ivan Palomares de la Encina. Palomares incorporates his Spanish heritage into the music. The quartet reminded me of Granados in that regard. And yet there's a quality to it that's unique. Palomares' use of harmony makes this music of the early 21st rather than the 20th Century.

The program concludes with "Quintet" by Polish composer Jan Wachowski. This was the most traditional-sounding work on the release. Wachowski blends Post-Romantic harmonies with contemporary string techniques.  The result is a work that should appeal to both traditional classical music listeners and contemporary music lovers.

Six contemporary composers from different countries, each with their own perspective on what consonance means. Kudos to the Non Profit Music Foundation for sponsoring the competition. And kudos to pianist Daniel del Pino and the Habemus Quartet. Their committed performances brought this music to life.

In Crescendo: Consonant Chamber Music
Daniel del Pino, piano; Habemus Quartet
Non Profit Music

Friday, March 15, 2019

#ClassicsaDay #WomensHistoryMonth 2019 - Week 2

For the third year in a row, the #ClassicsaDay theme for March is women composers. As I've done before, my post includes not just contemporary composers, but creative women from the Middle Ages on up. 

As an additional challenge, I made sure I hadn't duplicated any of my selections from previous years.

Below are my posts for the second full week of #WomensHistoryMonth  

3/11 Tibors de Sarenom (c.1130-aft.1198) - Bel dos amic

Tibors is the earliest trobaritiz in recorded history -- a French female troubadour. She would have been a proficient poet and instrumentalist, and most likely a noblewoman.

3/12 Alba Trissina (f. 1622) - In nomine Iesu

Trissina was a Carmelite nun in Vicenza. She studied with Leone Leoni, who published four of her works -- they are all that survive of her music.

3/13 Marianna von Auenbrugger (1759-1782) - Sonata in E-flat major

Marianna was a talented pianist and composer. She studied with Franz Joseph Haydn and Antonio Salieri. Saleri published her Sonata in E-flat.

3/14 Catherina Cibbini-Kozeluch (1790-1858) - Six Waltzes, Op. 6

Caterina was the daughter of composer Leopold Kozeluch. An accomplished pianist, she studied with Muzio Clementi. While serving in the Viennese court of Empress Karolina Augusta, several of her works were published, including the Op. 6 waltzes.

3/15 Ivana Stefanovic (1948 - ) - The Epistle of Birds

Serbian composer Stefanovic has had a long and productive music career at Radio Belgrade. She studied at IRCAM, and served as the Serbian State Secretary of Culture. The Epistle of Birds (1976) was produced at Radio Belgrade.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Trio Vitruvi Joyfully Perform Schubert Trios

A long journey can seem shorter if it's done with people you enjoy. Schubert's Piano Trio in E-flat major, D.929 is such a journey. And it was one made all the better with the Trio Vitruvi.

This release is the trio's debut recording. And it's a well-chosen one. The youthful Trio Vitruvi approach Schubert's 50-minute work with energy and enthusiasm. These talented musicians make this almost 200-year-old composition sound fresh and exciting.

The interplay between violinist Niklas Walentin, cellist Jacob la Cour, and pianist Alexander McKenzie is the key. There are no stars here -- all three work together for the common good.

Schubert's free-flowing melodies benefit from the trio's performances. They're played with lightness and seeming spontaneity. And that's what makes this sonic journey so enjoyable.

The joyful interpretation of the Trio Vitruvi kept me wanting more -- even after 50 minutes had flown by.

Fortunately, there was a little more. The release also includes the Notturno, D. 897. A light dessert to finish off a hearty meal.

Schubert: Piano Trios, D. 929 and D. 897
Trio Vitruvi
Bridge Records 9510

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Joseph Marx Nature Trilogy a Welcome Reissue

It's nice to see this Joseph Marx recording back in print. It was originally released by Avie in 2003.

Marx actively opposed Schoenberg and his followers. He very strongly believed in the power of tonal music. Marx was a major figure in Vienna, and his music was frequently performed.

After World War II, his compositions were considered old-fashioned. By the time of his death in 1964, Marx was virtually forgotten.

And that's a shame. For while his music is indeed tonal (almost reactionary), it's quite beautiful.

His ambitious Natur-Trilogie is a model of late-Romantic composition. The orchestrations evoke moods and images as effectively as those of Richard Strauss. The shimmering harmonies rival those of Claude Debussy.

In fact, the composer this music most reminds me of was Arnold Bax.

The trilogy was intended as a single work, on par with Mahler's grand symphonic statements. Practical considerations made that impossible, though. The work was broken into three stand-alone tone poems and never performed in its entirety.

While the three movements do work as individual pieces, they all belong to the same sonic world. Common motifs run throughout, binding the movements of the Nature Trilogy closely together.

The Bochum Symphony Orchestra deliver appealing performances. Maestro Steven Sloane brings out the sensual nature of this trilogy, making it a gorgeous treat for the ears. I'm happy this beautiful recording is back in print.

Joseph Marx: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1
Nature Trilogy: Symphonic Night Music; Idyll; Spring Music
Bochum Symphony Orchestra; Steven Sloane, conductor
Naxos 8l573831

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Flattening the O-Gauge Zen Garden, Part 2

It wasn't long after I posted Flattening the O-Gauge Zen Garden that I decided to make an additional change. P.T.F. Designs offered a flat that not only had the dimensions I was looking for but the design as well.

The Incandescent Lamp Electric Company's building had a long loading dock. I thought it would look great set against the straight part of the outer track loop.

Flat means flat!
Of course, this was a flat. So all I had was an image of the dock -- on the same plain as the rest of the structure (see image, right).

Fortunately, building out the dock wasn't a difficult task or even an especially lengthy one.

Gathering the resources

I did two sets of image/mirror image.
The first step was to make scans of the dock area. Using Photoshop, I made sure the images were exactly the right length. I also reversed the image.

The paper printouts needed mounting. I had several scrap pieces of hardware store rulers, which turned out to be the perfect backing material. The rulers were the same height as the dock image.

The dock addition is basically just a small rectangular box. I cut all the pieces to fit, and then glued the paper dock images to them.

The overlap from the sides
cover the wood backing of the front.

Building the base

The joints were constructed carefully. On the sides of the dock, I trimmed the paper so it overhung the wood back by 1/4". This covered the exposed wood of the dock front.

I also glued a small block at each corner. These ensured the joins were truly square. And they provided additional strength to the joint.

The finished box. Note the corner
braces don't exend all the way
up. That space will be needed for
the next step.
 Remember I had reversed images of the dock? Here's why. For the sides, I used the reversed images. There's no visual break between the grass line and brick patterns at the corner. The image seems to just wrap around it.

If the side had been really long, I would have needed a different solution, as the mirroring would have been obvious. But for a 1-1/2" section with limited visibility, I think this works.

It's the same technique I used before in Part One.

Creating the dock floor

There are score lines on
this surface -- really!
For the dock flooring, I used a piece of scrap Foamcore. I could have just covered the dock with paper, but I wanted something more substantial. I wanted the option of placing figures and goods on the dock (some of which could be diecast metal). It had to be sturdy. 

I scored board patterns into the surface. They don't show that well in the photos. But in real life, they provide a realistic texture to the Foamore's surface. 

I also carefully notched the underside of the dock floor. I wanted it to sit flush on the dock. The finished piece fit so snugly I didn't need to glue it at all. 

Before painting the dock floor,
I did a test fit. It fit perfectly
Just one step remained for this phase -- painting the dock floor. This was another instance where I used the reversed images. I had cut out just two relatively short pieces from either end,

I had plenty of the image left to experiment with. The loading dock has grayed wooden bumpers on it.

I mixed white and black paint together to match that shade of gray. The simplest way to test the mix was to dab it onto the scrap image.

When the paint blended seamlessly with the image, I was ready to paint the dock floor.

Paint-matching was easy.
I had plenty of printed
images to test with.
 Once the paint had dried, all that was left was to finish the assembly and attach the built-out dock to the building flat.

I'm happy with the result. The building looks like it belongs in the space  I did need to shift the flat I had previously built. And while that all looked fine, the American Flyer station that occupied that corner looked a little crowded.

That's something I'll need to address.

Another time.