Thursday, May 31, 2018

Spam Roundup May, 2018

Even with spam filters, some comments manage to make it through the system. Some of it's so oddly written, that it's oddly amusing. Here's a roundup of some of the "best" comments I received this month from spambots around the world.

Stream of unconsciousness

I'm not sure what this is all about. I received a bunch of comments this month that completely filled up the comments form. Here's a small sampling:

 - At the meager necessities when buying online, substantiation near dealership's websites and directories postulate upon claiming instauration for your hit. By exercise on a regular basis, you can insure the freshest cut of meat deep brown to break off the top of their belongings if you agnize some performing meliorate and the reality...

 - shopping your computing machine, but location take been overexerted, quicker strokes win meliorate. Be exceedingly good. Be full lettered around. Now you be kids or honourable a few trades in 15 atomic or two day extensions.

 - Tired of all the people running around with mishmash emblems of skulls and fire and wings. Even though it's typically marked on it spots, it is still very important to make additional notes so that you will comprehend them right away. [With this stuff, comprehension doesn't come right away -- if at all.]

- C'est le pouvait détacheг son, piscine est construite, aussi que cet et comρorte une salle lеs lumièrеs et n'a rien à de rocherѕ richeѕ sa fatigue de. Vous êtes écoeuré ses mains autour, des yeux et centimètres sur l'autre puisse me remplacer... [Translation: This is the place where the pool is built, as well as this and is a hall of light and has nothing to do with its richness. You have nauseated her hands around, eyes and centimeters on each other can replace me...]

There it is. The magnet polarity that's generating
solid arguments beneficial for one's experience.

"Lumbering along" polarizes comments

The Straco Express Layout, Part 23 - Lumbering Along still pulls in a disproportionate number of comments. And none of them have anything to do with the post itself -- a brief write-up of a vintage Japanese tin friction toy.

 - I read your article about magnet polarity. it makes you capable of measuring the inefficiency and return on investment of your marketing campaigns. [So does that make me a spam magnet?]

 - Touche Solid arguments. Keep up the amazing effort. [No problem. En Garde!]

 - Awesome in support of me too have a site, which is beneficial for my experience. thanks admin [You're welcome. Sincerely, Admin.]

And finally, this:

 - I'm sure this post has touched all the internet people. 

I'm sure it has. Till next time, then, when I'll no doubt touch all the internet people once again with a stirring post.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Compelling Performances of Johann Christian Bach Sacred Music

The bulk of Johann Christian Bach's sacred music was written between 1754-1762. That was during his tenure as organist for the Cathedral of Milan.

This release features three large-scale Mass movements; a Gloria, Kyrie, and Credo. Bach studied counterpoint with the famed Padre martini, and there's a distinct Italianate influence evident in these works.

The Gloria overshadows the other two works in this release. The 45-minute work breaks the text into its component parts.

Each part receives its own instrumental introduction. These instrumental sections are in the sinfonia concertante style of the Mannheim School, which makes them very up-to-date.

Les Agrémens instrumental ensemble performs with a clean transparent sound of the Italian style. And they also perform with the excitement and energy of the Mannheim School. It's a blend that works and works well.

The soloists also serve the music well. I particularly liked the sound of alto Barbara Hölzl's voice. It always seemed to be right in the pocket. And her blend with tenor Lluis Vilamajo was especially satisfying.

That's not to slight soprano Valérie Gabail and bass Stephan MacLeod. Regardless of how Bach combined these solo voices, they blended well.

Johann Christian Bach or the "London" Bach is primarily remembered for his instrumental compositions. Perhaps these works will help revive the reputation of the "Milan" Bach.

Johann Christina Bach: Gloria in G major; Kyrie in D minor; Credo in C major 
Valérie Gabail, soprano; Barbara Hölz, alto; Lluis Vilamajo, tenor; Stephan MacLeod, bass Choeur de Chambre de Namur; Les Agrémens; Wieland Kuijken, director 
Ricercare RIC 128 
World Premiere Recordings

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Mutts Goes Meta

During the week of May 21-26, 2018 cartoonist Patrick McDonnell stepped outside of his comic strip. Mutts spent the week contemplating the structure of the 3-panel gag strip -- as a way to deliver 3-panel gags.

The strip above addresses the pacing of the 3-panel gag. Many of the other strips for the week looked at different aspects of the structure - and most don't need additional commentary. 

The last of the sequence references Ernie Bushmiller. Bushmiller was the original artist/writer for Nancy. Bushmiller pared down his strip to its bare essence, and his tenure is one that most comic strip artists admire (including Patrick McDonnell, apparently).

And for a week of strips that looked at the foundation of the 3-panel form, it made perfect sense. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #SovietaDay Week 4

For May 2018, some of us contributing to #ClassicsaDay decided to mark May Day. Reason enough to post works by Soviet composers. I decided to go a little farther with my #SovietaDay posts and concentrate on Soviet prize winners.

Here are the posts I shared for week 4.

Boris Lyatoshinsky (1895-1968) - Piano Quintet "Ukrainian Quintet" Op. 42

Lyatoshinsky, inspired by Scriabin, continually pushed the boundaries of tonality. His early works were sometimes accused of "formalism." In the 1920s he began incorporating folk elements of his native Ukraine into his work. His Piano Quintet Op. 42, the "Ukrainian Quintet" is the best example of this folk-inspired style. It won the Stalin Prize in 1946.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) - Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 "Leningrad"

Shostakovich started work on his seventh symphony in 1939. He was working on the second movement when he was trapped in the Siege of Leningrad. During the war, the symphony was considered a symbol of resistance. Though around 80 minutes long, it was frequently performed in the West as a sign of support. Interest in the symphony declined after the war. Symphony No. 7 was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1942.

Alexander Arutiunian (1920-2012) - Cantata about the Motherland

Artuiunian's best-known work is his 1950 Trumpet Concerto in A-flat Major. In the Soviet Union, this Armenian composer was known for his concert works as well as his film scores. His Cantata about the Motherland won the Stalin Prize in 1948.

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) - On Guard for Peace, Op. 124

The cantata "On Guard for Peace" marked Prokofiev's return to political acceptance after the 1948 Zhdanov Decree. Although some of his works remained proscribed, new compositions were deemed safe to perform. The cantata won the Stalin Prize (second class) in 1951.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 089 - Revolving Crane

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

089. Revolving Crane

The series almost ended with this model. The crane assembly was too fragile to handle any stress, or even the weight of the bucket. It took quite a bit of work (and a little Stick-Um) to get everything to stay in place. 

You may notice an extra piece at the top of the tower. That was necessary to keep the crane assembly from toppling over backward. Because of the horizontal dowel anchoring the crane, I couldn't use a vertical dowel to secure the assembly. A little tape in the back did the trick.

And I won't even go into the problems trying to thread the string through all the points of contact while trying to hold the rickety thing together!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Niccolò Paganini Chamber Music for Strings with Appealing Performances

When he died in 1840, Niccolò Paganini was considered one of the greatest violinists in the world -- a reputation that endures even today. His virtuosity as a guitarist isn't as well-known today. But it was to his audiences.

Paganini would include some of his guitar pieces in his concerts and salons. Like Paganini's violin compositions, the music is uniquely crafted for one performer -- himself.

The music is challenging to play, but not to listen to. Sure, there are plenty of fireworks, but it's all for a purpose. His melodic lines have the easy affability of Mozart's (at least superficially).

Violinist Roberto Noferini ably handles Paganini's music. He plays with energy and conviction. And he also plays with sensitivity. The phrasing, especially in the Six Preludes for violin and guitar are beautifully shaped.

Guitarist Giulio Tampalini perfectly compliments Noferini. No matter how complex the music, he plays with a sure, light touch.

Violinist Anna Noferini and cellist Andrea Noferini are also worthy of mention. The familial connection between the Noferinis gives their ensemble playing a chemistry that adds to the music's appeal.

This isn't the first recording of Paganini's chamber music. But these performances make this one of the better ones.

Niccolò Paganini: Chamber Music for Strings 
Roberto Noferini, violin; Anna Noferini, violin II; Andrea Noferini, cello; Giulio Tampalini, guitar 
Brillant Classics

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Schütz - Kleine geistliche Konzerte II; Little Masterpieces

Schütz published his second volume of "little spiritual concerts" in 1639, three years after the first. It's a remarkable collection of sacred works, full of inventiveness and variety.

Schütz spent some time in Venice studying with Giovanni Gabrielli. There are some indications he also studied with -- or at least studied the music of -- Claudio Monteverdi. The works in this volume show Monteverdi's predilection for illustrating text with music.

The Holy Spirit is depicted in long, drawn-out tones -- appropriate for the Breath of God. Basses sing at their extreme low register to illustrate the depths of despair. A quickening of the heart prompts a flurry of rapid 16th note passages, and so on.

Like Monteverdi, Schütz doesn't let the text shape the music superficially. Each work has an emotional center that's paramount to understanding the import of the text.

The program groups the pieces by theme: Christmastide, Easter, God's Love, etc. When I listened straight through, it was as if I was hearing a series of suites rather than a parade of very short selections.

The selections are beautifully sung. There's a quiet intimacy to these works that Ludger Rémy and his musicians successfully capture. It would be his final recording in this series before Rémy's death. It's an appropriate legacy.   

Heinrich Schütz
Kleine geistliche Konzerte II
Complete recording, Vol. 17 
Gerlinde Sämann, Isabel Schicketanz, Maria Stosiek, David Erler, Georg Poplutz, Tobias Mäthbger, Tobias Berndt, Felix Schandtke, Ludger Rémy 
Carus 83.271 

Friday, May 18, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #SovietaDay Week 3

For May 2018, some of us contributing to #ClassicsaDay decided to mark May Day. Reason enough to post works by Soviet composers. I decided to go a little farther with my #SovietaDay posts and concentrate on Soviet prize winners. 

Here are the posts I shared for week 3.

Gara Garayev (1918-1982) Leyli and Majnun, symphonic poem

Garayev was one of Azerbaijan's most prominent composers. He held several key music-related government positions, eventually becoming a member of the Supreme Soviet. His tone poem "Leyli and Majnun" was based on a 12th Century poem by Nizami Ganjavi. It won the Stalin Prize in 1948.

Fikret Amirov (1922-1984) Symphonic Mughams

Amirov was Azerbaijani and used its folk music extensively in his compositions. A mugham is one such tradition. It's an improvised piece based on a highly codified collection of melodies, motifs, and modes. Amirov's symphonic version of this form won the Stalin Prize in 1949.

Reinhold Glière 1875-1956): String Quartet No. 4

Glières was a prominent composer both before and after the Revolution. He avoided politics and survived both the 1936 and 1948 ideological purges that ensnared many other composers. His fourth string quartet won the Stalin Prize in 1948. He was 73 at the time and considered something of a national treasure.

Otar Taktakishvili (1924-1989) Symphony No. 1 in A minor "Youth Symphony"

The Georgian-born Taktakishvili studied with Shostakovich, and they became life-long friends. Taktakishvili composed the Anthem for the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. His catalog includes operas and film scores, as well as concert works. His first symphony won the Stalin Prize in 1949.

Dmitri Kabalevsky (1900-1987): String Quartet No. 2

In the West, Kabelevsky's a one-hit wonder (Comedian's Galop), In the USSR, he was a major figure. He helped establish the Union of Soviet Composers and was at the forefront of children's music education. He wrote over 100 works, including four symphonies, and seven concertos. The second of his two string quartets won the Stalin Prize in 1946.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 088 - Vise

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

088. Vise

This was a fairly easy build -- even if it wasn't quite possible as depicted. The illustrator drew the dowels at the length they needed to be to look good. But those lengths aren't available in the set.

There are only two lengths available -- long and short. The short dowel securing the baseplate is too tall to sit flush with the surface of the plate. Only a long dowel can hold the handle assembly, though it's a little too long.

Still, the end result is close enough to the illustration. I'm satisfied with the results.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott: A Mighty Fine Collection

This is a great collection for anyone interested in the music of the early Protestant church. Ein Fiest Burg spans about 120 years, from the first hymns by Luther through settings by Heinrich Schutz. The release includes sacred music by Michael Praetorius, Samuel Scheidt, Hermann Schein, Melchior Frank, and others.

The first disc arranges selections according to the liturgical calendar. Many of the tunes may sound familiar -- such as Praetorius' setting of "Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen." Some of these tunes have found their ways into various mainstream Protestant hymnals, and some were incorporated into cantatas (including some by Bach).

The second disc is of special interest. It includes the Deutsches Passion by Joachim von Burck, the first such in the German language. The language for the Deutsches Requiem was set by Thomas Selle, Andreas Hammerschmidt and Heinrich Schutz, all represented here. It was the same text Brahms would later use for his Deutsches Requiem.

The keyword for Luther was simplicity. He wanted music that could be sung by the congregation. It could have been a recipe for blandness. Instead, composers throughout the first century of the Protestant Reformation found new and inventive ways to write.

The program is also thoughtfully organized. Vox Luminis performs some selections a capella, and some with organist Bart Jacobs. Jacobs performs several solo works. Two different organs are used, providing even more sound variety.

As always, the ensemble sings with a seamless blend. Their clear, transparent sound adds to the beauty -- and the spirituality -- of the music. This is one of the best (and best-sounding) collections of early Protestant music I've heard to date.

Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott: Luther and the Music of the Reformation
Vox Luminis; Lionel Meunier; Bart Jacobs
Ricercar RIC 378
2 CD Set

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Meta Comics in May

Something very unusual happened May 10, 2018. Three different comic strips based their gags on comic strip conventions. And each used a different approach.

I've remarked on such meta-humor before, but they're usually isolated examples.

The first is from Bill Holbrook's On the Fastrack.

The first panel makes sense after you read the punchline. The word balloon is so common that -- as an object -- it's virtually invisible to the reader. Holbrook makes it a physical object in the first panel -- supported only by Deathany.

The next example was something of a surprise. I'm not a big fan of Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey. I find both the art and writing mundane.

In this case, though, there's some innovation. The characters know they're in a comic strip. If the second panel had stopped with Killer's comment, it would have been an adequate punchline. Zero's comment makes it better, as it builds on that. Killer points out that they can't read the strip that they're in. And Zero's comment goes a step further -- if they can't read the strip, then they certainly can't read the title above it. 

The last example comes from Mike Lester's Mike du Jour.

The week-long running gag is that the office snack cart operator has been hosting cooking segments. Treating panel borders as physical objects isn't new, but it's used seldom enough to be refreshing. 

And note that the hole Mike saws in the second panel is there in the third as well. All three panels show the same location at different times (in sequence, of course). If the panel borders were physical objects, then only the second one should have a hole. But since they're also boundaries of time, the third panel reproduces the damage of the second. 

Not every paper runs Non Sequiter above Mike Du Jour. I wonder if creator Wiley Miller talked with Mike Lester. The panel is funny enough by itself. The victim standing on the X is reading about what will happen to him. Bystanders are all looking skyward, which is where the sign indicates "what you never saw coming" will be coming from. 

But when you put the two strips together, then "what you never saw coming" actually seems to be coming up from below. So even the bystanders won't see "what you never saw coming."

I didn't see that coming when I opened up the paper May 10. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Diabelli Project 190 - Brass Trio

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme, these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

When I sat down to begin my ten-minute flash composition session, I wanted to do something simple. I ended up with a piece for brass trio. It starts with a chromatic cluster of notes and slowly expands outward.

I was very surprised to find that I have only done one other brass trio sketch for this project (No. 128). And the two seem to fit nicely together. There may be a suite in all of this somewhere.

As always, you can use any or all of the posted Diabelli Project sketches as you wish for free. Just be sure to share the results. I'm always curious to see what direction someone else can take this material.

Friday, May 11, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #SovietaDay Week 2

For May 2018, some of us contributing to #ClassicsaDay decided to mark May Day. Reason enough to post works by Soviet composers. I decided to go a little farther with my #SovietaDay posts and concentrate on Soviet prize winners. 

 Here are the posts I shared for week 2.

Arkady Filippenko (1912-1983 - String Quartet No. 2 in D major

Filippenko served in the Red Army during WWII. Afterward, he helped organize the Ukrainian Composers Union. His second string quartet, which represented the struggles of the Soviets during the war, won the Stalin Prize in 1948.

Otar Taktakishvili (1924-1989) - Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor

In the West Taktakishvili is best-known for his Sonata for Flute and Piano. In the East, it's his Anthem of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. His Piano Concerto No. 1 won the Stalin Prize in 1950.

Andriy Shtoharenko (1902-1992) - In Memory of Lesya Ukrainka, symphonic suite

Though barely known or performed in the West, Shtoharenko was an important teacher and composer in the USSR. Lesya Ukrainka was one of the leading writers of the Soviet Union. Like Shtoharenko, she was from Ukraine. "In Memory of Lesya Ukrainka" won the Stalin Prize in 1952.

Reinhold Glière (1875-1956) - The Bronze Horseman, Op. 89a (Ballet Suite)

"The Bronze Horseman" is a 1949 ballet based on a story by Pushkin. The story is set in St. Petersberg, and the final number, "Hymn to the Great City" was adopted as its anthem. The music won a Stalin Prize in 1949.

Vissarion Shebalin (1902-1963) - String Quartet No. 5 "Slavonic" Op. 33

Shebalin studied with Glière and Myaskovsky and was one of the founders of the Union of Soviet Composers. His fifth string quartet, as did much of his work, incorporate nationalist folk elements. It won the Stalin Prize in 1943.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 087 Derrick

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

087. Derrick

This build had its challenges. As with the other toys that used a pulley system, the derrick was in continual danger of collapsing from the tension of the suspended load.

In order to get the boom to stay upright, I used some Candle Stick-Um to glue the beams in place. Stick-um is a mild adhesive, and can be completely removed afterwards (especially from flat surfaces like these construction pieces). 

I'm sure the illustrator assumed that dowels inside the blocks would help them align perfectly for the tower. Perhaps -- if one dowel was long enough to run the length of it. But I didn't have that option, so the tower looks a little more teetery than it does in the instruction sheet.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Al Alva Venid - Secular Music from the Spanish Renaissance

"Al alva venid" was originally released in 1995.  The release sounds just as good now as it did then. Soprano Marta Almajano sings with a honeyed tone that blends beautifully with the vihuela and renaissance guitar.

They're played by José Miguel Moreno, one of the masters of early stringed instruments. His sensitive phrasing makes every piece a polished gem.

The program covers a variety of Spanish Renaissance music. Composers Diego Ortiz and Juan del Enzina are well-represented, and there's a mixture of often-performed and lesser-known works.

Overall the recording delivers a warm, smooth sound. But that doesn't mean it's bland. The Ensemble La Romanesca performs with a restrained energy that makes this music sound vital and alive.

"Al alva venid" remains one of the best collections of Renaissance Spanish music. I'm glad to see it back.

Al Alva Venid: Secular music from the Spanish Renaissance
Marta Almajano, soprano
Ensemble La Romanesca
José Miguel Moreno
Glossia GCD C80203

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

OperaEnsemble Excels with Louise Farrenc Wind Music

Louise Farrenc was one of the most prominent musicians in mid-19th Century Paris. She was a respected concert pianist and composer. She's best remembered for her chamber music -- and this release demonstrates why.

The three works on this album were composed between 1852 and 1856. and they're all finely crafted compositions.

In general, Farrenc's style reminds me somewhat of Mendelssohn's -- with a difference. Farrenc's music seems a little sturdier and more substantial. Farrenc was an exceptional pianist.

Her writing for the instrument in chamber settings is both imaginative and idiomatic. The piano passages aren't especially showy -- Farrenc's instrument is a team player.

The Wind Sextet was originally written for Farrenc's colleagues at the Paris Conservatoire. It's for flute, clarinet, oboe, horn, and bassoon (a standard wind quintet) with piano. Farrenc expertly balances her forces, giving every instrument an opportunity to shine.

The Op. 44 Trio in E-flat is for clarinet, cello, and piano. The Op. 45 Trio -- also in E-flat -- substitutes the flute for the cello. I'm sure Farrenc's colleagues enjoyed playing these works. I suspect they also provided Farrenc with feedback.

The clarinet and flute are at the forefront most of the time. And Farrenc's writing takes full advantage of the capabilities of each instrument. These solo parts are not interchangeable.

The members of the OperaEnsemble perform to perfection. They bring a lightness to this music that makes it all the more appealing.

Louis Farrenc: Wind Sextet, Trios
Wind Sextet in C minor, Op. 40; Clarinet Trio in E-flat major, Op. 44; Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 45
OperaEnsemble; Linda di Carlo, piano
Brilliant Classics

Monday, May 07, 2018

Diabelli Project 189 - Piece for Marimba (Part 3)

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme, these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

This week I finished up the first section of the piece. For some, the notation may look a little odd, but the direction of the stems is deliberate. I'm treating the right and left hands as two separate instruments, playing a duet.

In the measures with a single line in them, the player can choose to alternate sticking. I just wanted to make it clear that there are still two voices conversing.

The second section is more of a blending of voices, though still with two different melodic shapes. I envision having all four mallets in play as the section develops, perhaps expanding from two voices to four.

As always, you can use any or all of the posted Diabelli Project sketches as you wish for free. Just be sure to share the results. I'm always curious to see what direction someone else can take this material.

Friday, May 04, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #SovietaDay Week 1

For May 2018, some of us contributing to #ClassicsaDay decided to mark May Day. Reason enough to post works by Soviet composers. I decided to go a little farther with my #SovietaDay posts and concentrate on Soviet prize winners. 

Here are the posts I shared for week 1.

Nikolai Myaskovsky (1880-1950) - Symphony No.21 in F sharp minor, Op. 51

Myaskovsky, the "Father of the Russian Symphony" His orchestral output was popular both in and outside the Soviet Union. His 21st Symphony was completed in 1940 and was awarded the Stalin Prize. It was one of five that Myaskovsky won -- the most of any composer.

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) - Piano sonata No. 7

Prokofiev is the middle of the three piano sonatas he wrote during World War II. Sviatoslav Richter premiered the work in 1943. The middle movement is based on Schumann's lieder "Wehmut." "I can sometimes sing as if I were glad, yet secretly tears well and so free my heart." The buried subversion went unnoticed - the sonata was awarded the Stalin Prize (second class).

Samuil Feinberg 1890-1962) Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 36

Feinberg was a pianist first, and a composer second. He's best remembered for his complete recording of Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier." Feinberg wrote mostly for the solo piano, although he also completed three piano concertos. His second concerto won the Stalin Prize in 1946.

Valery Gavrilin (1930-1999) - Perezvony: a choral symphony of-action for soloists, mixed chorus, oboe, percussion and narrator

Gavrilin was part of the "neo-folk" movement. He wrote for film as well as the concert hall. Gavrilin was a singer and many of his compositions feature the human voice. HIs choral symphony Perezvony won the Stalin Prize.

The poster of the video for this work didn't allow embedding from YouTube. Here's the link to the performance

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 086 Well

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

086. Well

This was a pretty simple toy to build -- mostly. The spigot wouldn't stay in place, but that's not surprising. The illustrator apparently thought the large block had a series of holes in the middle, instead of the slots it actually has. As I prepared the shot, the spigot dowel, held in place by two fiberboard collars, slowly slide down the slot.

Also, it's not clear from the illustration exactly how the long dowel is supposed to attach to the pump arm. I tried stripping the wire and inserting it into the center fo the dowel, but that didn't work (the wire was too thin and kept bending). In the end, I just used tape to secure the hook to the dowel.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Grosse Festkantaten

It seems appropriate that these festival cantatas would be revived (and recorded) for a festival. The 300th anniversary of Carl Philipp Emanual (CPE) Bach's birth prompted a music festival in Leipzig. The two cantatas on this release had not been performed since the occasions they were written for.

"Ich will dem Herrn lobsingen" was written in 1771, just three years after CPE Bach succeeded his godfather, Georg Philipp Telemann, as Kapellmeister of Hamburg. This is a big work, with a big ensemble. The textures are thick, and the choral parts are quite advanced.

By contrast, the 1787 "Wer sich rühmen will" is smaller and simpler. Bach's choral writing is more transparent. The orchestral writing is simpler, too, with more modest demands on the ensemble. Folk elements are also present, making the work more tuneful and more accessible.

The performances of these works are first-rate. Under the direction of Bernhard Klapprott, the soloists sing expressively, yet in a straight-forward manner. The orchestra has a good ensemble blend as well. My only complaint is that the Capella Thuringia seemed to emphasize the altos a little too much. But this was a live recording, and may not have been the fault of the performers.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Grosse Festkantaten
Monika Mauch, soprano; Margot Oitzinger, alto; Mirko Ludwig, tenor; Giullaume Olry, bass
Cantus Thuringia; Capella Thuringia; Bernhard Klapprott, director
CPO 777 958-2

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Death in Comics - Rex Morgan

Most comics -- even the adventure strips -- hold their characters in stasis. That is, they seemingly remain the same age year after year. New characters are introduced and old characters disappear. Mainly they retire offstage.

Aging and death are rare occurrences in the daily comic strip. Perhaps because it's such a rarity, each artist/writer seems to handle it differently (see: Death in Comics). In this case, Rex Morgan artist and writer Terry Beatty chose an understated approach.

Milton Avery has been a long-running supporting character in the strip. The British industrialist was first a patient of Dr. Morgan. Readers saw the romance with Milton and Heather (originally the Morgan's nanny) begin back in 2004, and eventually lead to marriage. And readers watched the slow mental decline of Avery as dementia set in.

This quiet sequence from April 2018 seems a fitting way to end this character's story. Usually, when there's a death of a character, it's a dramatic plot point - like the death of Raven in "Terry and the Pirates." But this time it's only after Avery dies that the plot point is revealed.