Friday, September 30, 2016

Spam Roundup: September, 2016

There's spam, and then there's spam so oddly written it's somewhat amusing. Here's a roundup of some of the "best" comments I received this month from spambots around the world. 

How's that again?

 - I believe that is among the such a lot significant information for me. The web site taste is wonderful. The articles is actually nice. [You seem surprised.]

 - When some one searches for his required thing, therefore he/she desires to be available that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over here. [So... is this a thing?]

 - Grade national strawberry mark Month this May with men out On that point who Have got beehelped to achiever their optimum appela with a bit of my pham operation  [Optimal beehelped?]

Those two green lumber trucks? They're what all the excitement's about.

Lumbering through the spam

It was a short post in a series about vintage Japanese tin toys. There are probably only about 10 people on the planet who were legitimately interested in what I had to say. 

And yet, The Straco Express Layout, Part 23 - Lumbering Along continues to be one my most heavily-trafficked posts -- by spambots, that is. 

 - Pretty element of content. [Yes, it is a nice-looking toy, isn't it?]

 - Lucky me I came across your blog by accident (stumbleupon) [Ah, so that's what "by accident" means!]

 - Is there any other web page with offers these stuff in quality [I can't imagine there would be.]

Fastidious Spam

And finally, my post on Fastidious Spam is generating its own collection of, um, fan mail. 

 - thanks for any other fantastic post. [Why, what's wrong with this one?]

 - It's hard to find experienced people in this particular subject. [Experienced? Well, more.. fastidious, I think.]

Ahaa, its fastidious discussion concerning this article here at this blog. I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting at this place. [Me am pleased.]

That's all for this month If I find more of these gems by accident (you know, stumbleupon), I'll share them next month. There's no other web page that offers these stuff in quality!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thomas Tomkins - Anthems and Canticles

Daniel Hyde and the Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford, along with the early music ensemble Phantasm, present an interesting program of music by Thomas Tomkins.

Five anthems for choir and viols (as opposed to just an organ) are the showpieces here, and rightly so. Tomkins' use  of the consort is more imaginative than just simply mimicking keyboard accompaniment.

Tomkins adds and subtracts instruments to subtly shade the ensemble sound as it sometimes supports and sometimes plays in opposition to the choir. Also included are various consort works, showing Tomkins' consummate skill at instrumental composition.

The Choir of Magdalen College sings in a straightforward fashion. The soloists have a rough quality to their delivery, which sounds completely authentic to me. Phantasm plays with precision and authority. Viols tend to have a wispy sound (compared to modern stringed instruments), but there's nothing anemic about Phantasm.

That solid instrumental work coupled with the not-quite-polished sound of the choir really brings these works to life. These gritty performances have a beauty all their own. And  that earthy beauty I found thoroughly appealing.

Thomas Tomkins: Anthems and Canticles
Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford; Phantasm; Daniel Hyde, conductor
Opus Arte OACD9040D

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gustav Helsted: Decet and String Quartet

Just how progressive was Danish composer Gustav Helsted? Well, he founded a musical society that was playing Bruckner and Mahler symphonies in 1896. And while he studied with Niels Gade, Helsted was vitally interested pushing beyond Gade's concept of romanticism -- as his heroes Bruckner and Mahler had.

Helsted’s Decet, Op. 18 for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn and strings is a good example of that boundary-pushing. Composed in 1891, it was still considered far too modern-sounding twenty-five years later (according to critics).

While the harmonic progressions might not seem quite outre a century later, the Decet is still an unusual work. Its instrumentation allows for some unconventional timbres. At times it sounds like a chamber orchestra, and other times an intimate trio or quartet.

To my ears, Helsted sounds superficially similar to Grieg in this work, but that might just be the Scandinavian character coming through. The odd instrumentation will naturally limit performances, but the quality of the writing makes this a work that should be heard often.

Helsted's String Quartet is, I think, a truly remarkable work. Possibly written as early as 1917, it strongly reminded me of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 -- composed in 1960. Although it lacks the urgency and angst of Shostakovich's work, Helsted's quartet does outline its motifs in sharp relief, with stark, dramatic contrasts driving the music.

If these two works are any indication of the quality of his output, then Gustav Helsted is a composer I would like to know better. Members of the Danish Sinfonietta, under the direction of David Riddell, turn in unapologetic performances of these obscure masterworks that bring the music to life. If you're interested in Bruckner, Mahler, or Shostakovich, then Helsted's works are worthy of your attention.

Gustav Helsted: Decet and String Quartet
The Danish Sinfonietta, David Riddell, conductor
Dacapo 8.226111