Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Spam Roundup July, 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 the strategy here is. Just keep generating words until someone responds?

- Here's a few substance on the mar that has content to you. this is epochal if you own a firm blow of consciousness consciousness activity dispirited your look into. [That's no type. They really did repeat "consciousness." I guess it was a conscious decision.]

- The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish nonetheless, you command get got an impatience over that you wish be delivering the following Unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shielded this hike.

"Lumbering along" for fun and profit

The Straco Express Layout, Part 23 - Lumbering Along remains a popular post for spam. AIs just can't get over this profile of a cheap Japanese vintage toy.

- I require a specialist on this house to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Having a look ahead to peer you.[Fascinating. You've told me everything except the problem.]

- I care for such information much. I was loking for this particular info for a very long time. [And now you can die happy.] 

- you may be missing out on the commercialize. [Yes. I'm sure there's big money in writing about antique friction toys.]

 - Extremely useful info particularly the final part. I deal with such information much. [Really? Let's talk. I'm ready to commercialize!]


May I Ask a Question?

- Do you wish to develop your individual healthy produce and organic fish?

- Do I want to find a girlfriend that I can settle down with, and fall in love?

Spammers asked the questions, and a spammer provides the answer.

 - Asking questions are really fastidious thing if you are not understanding something fully.

That's all for this month. Remember to be fully fastidious and always shield your hikes. It's for your own good.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Diabelli Project 201 - Piece for Violin and Piano 2

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.

To mark my 200th flash composition, I'm expanding the concept a little bit. I've still limited myself to a 10-minute session. But this time each sketch will pick up where the last one left off.

I didn't get very far this week. The intricacies of the violin part ate up most of my allotted time. I did get far enough along to set up the next section, though. I'll be starting with the piano part next time.



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.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ruman Gamba Shows Dag Wirén More Than a One-Hit Wonder

I think it must be frustrating to be a one-hit wonder -- especially in the field of classical music. Swedish composer Dag Wirén wrote five symphonies, three concertos, five string quartets,  nine film scores, several ballets.

Yet most orchestras only program one of his works -- the Serenade for Strings.

The work was dashed off quickly, and in a good performance, that sense of spontaneity comes through. Ruman Gamba and Iceland Symphony Orchestra give the Serenade a good performance.

Gamba uses the full orchestral string section. The work is often recorded with a chamber orchestra, and the difference in sound is noteworthy.

While still light and breezy, the substance of the string sound makes it seem less of a throwaway piece. And -- for those of us who've heard the Serenade too often -- it offers a fresh take on this classic.

The Sinfonietta, Op. 7a started life as part of Wiren's second symphony. The symphony was withdrawn, and two of the movements were reworked into the Sinfonietta. It's an intense, compact work that with a strong sense of drama. Wiren's melodies may have echoes of Grieg and Scandinavia, but they're faint. The Sinfonietta seems to lean more towards Prokofiev than Nielsen.

Wiren withdrew his first symphony and completely rewrote his second. He seemed to hit his stride with Symphony No. 3. Wiren handles his material with confidence. The themes are memorable, and the entire work seems to flow organically from start to finish. There are a few passages where I could tell this was the same person who composed the Serenade. But I could also tell this was a composer who had grown in mastery.

Also included is Wiren's 1957 Divertimento. It's a more substantial work than the title suggests.

Ruman Gamba writes, "I was surprised that the music of Wirén was just as unknown
[in Sweden] as it was in the UK... Convinced that Wirén must have composed some other fine music [than the Serenade], I had the opportunity to suggest his Third Symphony for a concert... a performance which persuaded me to think about a whole CD of his music."

Gamba was right. Wiren did compose some other fine music.

Dag Wirén: Orchestral Works
Symphony No. 3, Op. 20; Serenade, Op. 11; Divertimento, Op. 29; Sinfonietta, Op. 7a in C major
Iceland Symphony Orchestra; Ruman Gamba, conductor
Chandos CHSA 5194
SACD

Friday, July 27, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #NAFTAclassics Week 4

We have an international mix of contributors to the #ClassicsaDay feed. July has significant holidays for two of the three countries in North America. So, at the suggestion of a Canadian contributor, July became #NAFTAclassics, marking Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4). Mexico doesn't have a July holiday, but we decided to be inclusive rather than exclusive.




For the month, I alternated between the three countries. Here are my posts for the fourth and fifth week of #NAFTAclassics.

Rui Shi Zhuo (Canadian, 1956 - ) - Symphonic Poem The Night of Ancient Kingdom Shu

Rui Shi Zhuo was born in China and emigrated to Canada in his thirties. He's active both as a conductor and composer and has written for film as well. His music draws on the instruments and traditions of his Chinese heritage, reinterpreted through Western classical music.




Victor Rasgado (Mexican, 1959 - ) - Quetzaltepec

Rasgado is one of the most prominent Mexican composers of his generation. His music is performed extensively both in Mexico and abroad. He's best known for his operas, which tend to feature Mexican stories and fables.




Mohammed Fairouz (American, 1985 - ) - The Named Angels

Fairouz often uses his Middle Eastern heritage as a starting point for his music. His first opera was based on an Egyptian play, his current opera has a Pakistani libretto. "The Named Angels" depict the angels of Persian mythology.




Linda Catlin Smith (Canadian, 1957 - ) - thought and Desire

Smith was born in New York City and moved to Toronto in 1981. Smith's primarily inspired by painters and writers. In addition to a catalog of music for modern ensembles, Smith has also written works for early instruments.




Javier Álvarez (Mexican, 1956 - ) - Metro Chabacano

While Alvarez incorporates native musical traditions into his music, he also draws from other cultures. Alvarez sometimes uses non-traditional instruments, like the Korean kayagum and Caribbean steel pans, in his work. He also has a large catalog of electroacoustic music, and an award-winning film score for "Cronos."



Kamran Ince (American, 1960 - ) - Concerto for Orchestra, Turkish Instruments, and Voices

Turkish-American composer Kamran Ince was born in Montana and studied in Turkey with Muammer Sun. After returning to the states, he studied with Joseph Schwantner and Christopher Rouse, among others. Ince's music combines Persian musical traditions with Western forms. His catalog currently includes five symphonies and a piano concerto.

https://youtu.be/Ls5ibZNpmew


Harry Somers (Canadian, 1925–1999) - Lyric

Smith was a founding member of the Canadian League of Composers and was committed to developing a national style of classical music. Several of his works are considered standard repertoire for Canadian ensembles. He greatly influenced the development of Canadian music through his work as an educator, broadcaster, and composer.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 097 - Weaver

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.

097. Weaver

The final group of objects on this instruction sheet seems to be of an industrial nature. In this case, a hand-cranked "weaver." To me, it looks like those top two dowels would be something that gathers thread as it spins - like a flyer on a spinning wheel. So not necessarily a weaver, but some type of textile-related machine.

The most difficult part of this project was trying to figure out how the crankshaft connected to the rotating axle.

As always, the illustrator drew the model with a much neater appearance than was possible to build. Note the support pillars. Both lengths of the dowels were too long for their intended purposes. 

 


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Perle Orchestral Music - Beautifully Performed

George Perle didn't come to orchestral composition until fairly late in his career. But as this new album shows, it was worth the wait. Maestro Morlot and the Seattle Symphony deliver strong, sure-footed performances. If you're never experienced Perle's music before, this may be the recording to start with.

Perle developed his own version of 12-tone writing -- one that remained tonal. The resulting sound is piquant and nuanced. To my ears, a lot of mid-century 12-tone works sound somewhat dated. But Perle's music sounds fresh, vibrant -- and contemporary.

The 1986 Dance Fantasy reflects Perle's love of ballet. The work crackles with kinetic energy. It practically demands to be choreographed. It's a great way to start the album.

The Six Bagatelles from 1965 show Perle's mastery of orchestration. As does the Cello Concerto, written a year later. The inherent chromaticism of Perle's "12-tone tonality" lets the composer spin out long, sinuous melodies for the cello.

The Sinfonietta I and Short Symphony were written in the 1980s. The Sinfonietta may be the lighter of the two, but it doesn't lack for intensity.

The Short Symphony may not be long, but it's deep. Perle's multi-layered writing and subtle tonal colors reveal something new with every hearing.

This is volume four of Bridge Record's Perle series. It's my favorite to date.

George Perle: Orchestral Music (1965-1987)
Seattle Symphony; Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jay Campbell, cello
Bridge Records 9499

Monday, July 23, 2018

Diabelli Project 200 - Piece for Violin and Piano 1

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.

To mark my 200th flash composition, I'm building on the extended project I just finished (see: Diabelli Project - Woodwind Trio 194-199).

In that series, I began a sketch with one 10-minute flash composition session, then continued the same sketch with a second. This time, I started a violin and piano piece with this weeks 10-minute session. Each week I'll continue working on the piece in 10-minute installments for a month. This will be a journey of discovery for sure!

The piece starts with a simple figure - a repeated note, and then a step upward. The interval isn't specified, which gave me lots of possibilities. 

In the first measure (in the piano), C moves to E then back down to D (up a major third, then down a major second). In the second measure, E moves to F, then back to E (up a major second, then back down again). In the third measure, A moves to B-flat (up a minor second, no downward motion). 

Initially, the violin's playing freely over the relatively simple piano part. But I think that will change very soon.

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.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Friedemann Eichhorn Concludes Rode Concerto Series with Elan

Friedemann Eichhorn completes his traversal of Pierre Rode's violin concertos in fine style.

Over the years Eichhorn seems to have internalized Rode's technique, and perhaps some of his aesthetic. In this recording, he plays with a sweet tone and a light touch.

Pierre Rode was one of the most brilliant violinists of his age, a complete master of the instrument. His caprices and etudes may have been written to instruct others, but the concertos were written to showcase his own talents.

And that's exactly how Eichhorn approaches them. There are no somber pronouncements from on high in these works. These concertos were written as vehicles for the violist. Eichhorn plays with relish and abandon. Technical challenges seem to melt away.

Trills, rapid-fire runs, spiccato, bariolage -- he does it all without seeming to break a sweat. And that's exactly what this music needs. Rode's concertos work best when their light on their feet.

The Jena Philharmonic is certainly light enough. Nicolás Pasquet seems to have a much fun with these works as Eichhorn. And that's what makes this disc -- and series -- so successful aesthetically.

The release also includes to airs for violin and orchestra. Eichhorn dives into these short, lyrical works with relish.

If you're ready to be dazzled by exceptional playing -- and want to hear some pleasantly tuneful music besides -- this is the disc for you. Come to think of it, so are the previous four volumes.

Pierre Rode: Violin Concertos Nos. 11 and 12
Volume 5
Friedemann Eichhorn, Violin
Jena Philharmonic; Nicolás Pasquet, conductor
Naxos 8.5734674

Friday, July 20, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #NAFTAclassics Week 3

We have an international mix of contributors to the #ClassicsaDay feed. July has significant holidays for two of the three countries in North America. So, at the suggestion of a Canadian contributor, July became #NAFTAclassics, marking Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4). Mexico doesn't have a July holiday, but we decided to be inclusive rather than exclusive.




For the month, I alternated between the three countries. Here are my posts for the third week of #NAFTAclassics.


Juan Trigos (Mexican, 1965 - ) - Sinfonia No. 1

Trigos enjoys an international reputation as both a conductor and a composer. He's written four symphonies, several operas, and many other works for chamber, choral, and large ensembles. As a conductor, he regularly programs and records new classical works by Mexican composers.




Joan Tower (American, 1938 - )Made in America

"Made in America" was a joint commission by 65 small orchestras. Tower describes the work as a set of variations on "America the Beautiful." Because of the joint commission, the work was performed 65 times, with Tower traveling from city to city to present it. "Made In America" remains one of her most popular works.




Owen Underhill (Canadian, 1954 - ) - By Backward Steps

Flutist and composer Own Underhill is based in Vancouver. He's considered one of the most significant living composers on the West Coast. Underhill is interested in electronic as well as acoustic music and studied both at Darmstadt and MIT.




Carlos Sánchez-Gutierrez (Mexican, 1964 - ) - Winik/Te'

Born in Mexico City, Sánchez-Gutierrez now lives in New York, teaching at the Eastman Scholl of Music. His influences are diverse, and his scores often complex. As he says, he " use the same set of ears to listen to Bach, Radiohead, or Ligeti."




Florence Price (American, 1887-1953) - Fantasie negre

Although she died in 1953, Price's music is just now coming into its own. She studied with Goerge Chadwick and Frederic Converse in the early 1900s. Price often had to work as an organist to survive. She known for her arrangements of spirituals during her lifetime. Only afterward has her symphonic scores been reassessed.




Thursday, July 19, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 096 - Drill

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.

096. Drill

There's not a lot to say about this toy. Building it was quite simple. I did have one problem, and not for the first time.

The illustration calls for three 3-hole girders. Two hold the drill, and the third is part of the crank. Only two were provided with the set. I used one of the flat pieces instead. Otherwise, a quick and easy build.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dussek Complete Piano Sonatas - Authentic and Engaging

When I received this disc for review I was excited, then worried, then excited again. I was initially excited because this is the first volume in a complete series of Jan Ladislav Dussek's 35 piano sonatas. I was worried because these were performances at a fortepiano of the period. But after I heard this release, I was excited again, and look forward to the next installment.

Dussek is a pivotal figure in the history of solo piano music. Though a contemporary of Mozart and Haydn, Dussek seemed to have skipped ahead to the early Romantic period. Dussek's rock star celebrity as a performer predates Liszt. And his work with the Broadwood piano company helped develop the instrument.

As the fortepiano developed, so did Dussek's music. Each sonata takes full advantage of the capabilities of an instrument of the day. So playing these works on a contemporary instrument makes sense. Dussek's last sonatas (like Beethoven's) are beyond the capabilities a 1790s instrument.

I normally don't like the sound of the early fortepiano. Often the action is so loud it threatens to drown out the music. Not so with the 1799 Longman Clementi fortepiano heard here. This beautifully restored instrument has a decidedly different timbre than a modern instrument, but the action is almost silent.

Bart van Oort performs these sonatas with authority and panache. His nuanced shaping of melodic lines imbues the music with life.

The recording includes the three Op. 10 sonatas, published in 1789. These three works resemblance contemporary sonatas by Mozart and Haydn, but somehow seem more robust.

The 1795 "Pastorale" sonatas were published the same year as Beethoven's first sonata. And it seems to be cut from a similar cloth. Compared to the Opus 10 sonatas, the harmonies are richer, and the dramatic gestures are bigger.

I am very much looking forward to the next installment in this series.

Jan Ladislav Dussek: Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1
Sonatas Op. 10, Nos. 1-3; Sonata Op. 31, No. 2
Bart van Oort, fortepiano
Brilliant Classics, 95599

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Franz Xaver Mozart: Piano Works - Worth a Listen

It's tough being a good composer -- when your father's a great one. Franz Xaver Mozart was the youngest son of Wolfgang Amadeus. Franz's compositions aren't ground-breaking, but they are satisfying in their own right.

Franz Xaver was a conductor and pianist as well as a composer. As a performer, he spent several years touring and working in Eastern Europe. That experience is reflected in two of the three works on this release.

The Six Polonaises mélancoliques for piano, Op. 17 were finished in 1814. These piano works aren't as technically challenging as Chopin's polonaises. But they're both inspired by Polish music. Franz Xaver's polonaises have an elegant restraint about them, with only a hint of their ethnic origin.

The 1815 Fantasy on a Russian Song and a Krakowiak in A Major shows the composer at his most imaginative. Franz Xaver often played the work in concert, and with good reason. The technical demands increase as the work progresses, with plenty of crowd-pleasing runs and arpeggios.

Franz Xaver's 1807 piano sonata seems to look back rather than forward. It's an extensive four-movement work that seems inspired by Haydn with its tasteful elegance. It's only when we remember that Beethoven's "Appassionata" sonata was published the same year that it loses some of its charms.

Anna Liszewsaka performs in a committed fashion. Her talent is bringing out the beauty inherent in Franz Xaver's melodies. I especially enjoyed her performances of the polonaises.

The best way to enjoy this release? Just listen to the music on its own merits. In the end, it doesn't matter who Franz Xaver was related to. He's not writing his father's music -- he's writing his own. And Franz Xaver does have something to say.

Franz Xaver Mozart: Piano Works
Anna Liszewska, fortepiano
DUX 1441

Monday, July 16, 2018

Diabelli Project - Woodwind Trio Project (194-199)

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.

My goal with these flash composition exercises is to continually push myself creatively. Over the past six weeks, I worked on one piece -- a woodwind trio. I wanted to write a three-movement work, each movement sketched in two successive flash composition sessions. I knew I wouldn't finish the piece. But devoting two sessions to each movement developed them enough that I can see where they're going. And that means I can complete them at my leisure.

As with the Duet for Clarinet and Bass Clarinet, I'll post the finished sketches.

Movement 1 - Allegro



Movement 2 - Adagio



Movement 3 - Presto




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.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Blue Heron complete outstanding Peterhouse Partbooks series

In the 1540s Thomas Bull compiled partbooks for the Canterbury Cathedral Choir. They were only in use for a few years, as Edward II dissolved professional choirs. The books were stored in Peterhouse College and all but forgotten.

Blue Heron has brought this music back to life, with scholarly research and committed performances. This is the fifth and final volume of their traversal through the Peterhouse Partbooks.

The centerpiece of the release is an anonymous Missa sine Nomine. It's a model of English Renaissance choral writing. The contrapuntal writing is a bit restrained. But each line is beautifully crafted, making for a pleasing whole.

Also included are works by composers who are all but ciphers today - Hugh Sturmy, Robert Hunt, and John Mason. Even so, it's thrilling to hear this music. Each piece is a finely crafted gem.

Blue Heron performs to their usual high standard. The ensemble has a warm, rich sound. The recording venue provides just the right amount of ambiance -- enough to give the music a luminous glow, without smearing the individual lines.

Highly recommended.

Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, Vol. 5
Blue Heron; Scot Medcalf, director
Blue Heron

Friday, July 13, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #NAFTAclassics Week 2

We have an international mix of contributors to the #ClassicsaDay feed. July has significant holidays for two of the three countries in North America. So, at the suggestion of a Canadian contributor, July became #NAFTAclassics, marking Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4). Mexico doesn't have a July holiday, but we decided to be inclusive rather than exclusive.




For the month, I alternated between the three countries. Here are my posts for the first week of #NAFTAclassics.

Roger Zare (American, 1985 - ) - Mare Tranquillitatis

Zare is best known for his wind ensemble and orchestral works. He studied with Michael Daughterty and Morten Lauridsen. Like his teachers, Zare writes music of substance that's also readily accessible to general audiences.



Healey Willan (Canadian, 1880–1968) - Introduction, Passacaglia, and Fugue for Organ

Willan emigrated to Canda from the UK in 1913. He wrote over 800 works, including operas and symphonies. Willan was an organist and a composer.  From 1921 until his death the organist and choirmaster of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto. He's best known for his sacred works, both for choir and for organ.



Carlos Chávez (Mexican, 1899–1978) - Xochipilli

Chávez was a preeminent musical figure in his country. He continually worked to develop classical music in Mexico -- as an educator, writer, conductor, and composer. His works often incorporate elements of native folk music. Xochipilli is the Aztec god of art and dance.




Carter Pann (American, 1972 - ) - Circumnavigator for Two Pianos

Pann studied with Samuel Adler, William Bolcom, and Joseph Schwantner (among others). Like his teachers, Pann strives to make his works readily accessible to new listeners -- without compromising the complexity of his musical thoughts. A significant part of Pann's catalog is for piano.




John Weinzweig (Canadian, 1913-2006) - Symphonic Ode

Weinzweig spent most of his professional life in Toronto. He wrote for film, stage, and radio. Popular music often finds its way into Weinzweig's classical works. He was also interested in the music of the Inuits, which also became part of his musical language.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 095 - Separator

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.

095. Separator

The separator was another easy toy to build. The mechanism isn't positioned exactly as it is in the illustration. The space between the two posts isn't as roomy as the illustrator drew it. And (as always),  the actual length of the dowels isn't quite the length required. Still, I was able to get pretty close.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Nuevo Mundo: 17th Century music in Latin America - Encore! (again)

I guess you just can't keep a good recording down. "Nuevo Mundo" was first released on the Italian Symphonia label in 1991. Pan Classics reissued it in 2012, and here it is again on Glossia in 2017. Why does it keep being reissued? Probably because it deserves to be.

The Ensemble Elyma delivers spirited, energetic performances -- which is exactly what the music requires.

Roman Catholocism and its attendant music were imported to the New World in the 1600s, and they soon went native. Baroque music developed differently in the Americas than it did in Europe.

The program presents a wide variety of composers active in Central and South America in the 17th Century. Two good examples are Juan de Araujo and Gaspar Fernandes, both of whom have several selections on this release.

Fernandes was a Portuguese composer who spent most of his career in Guatemala and Mexico. De Araujo was a Spanish composer who worked in both Peru and Panama. Their works -- as are most on this album -- are an exotic blend of influences. Early Baroque writing combines with Andalusian and native folk traditions.

It's a vibrant mixture, and the Ensemble Elyma brings it to life.

The sound of the recording is a little soft, I think. The highs and lows seem to lack a little detail. But that's the difference between 1991 and current recording technology. I'm glad to see "Nuevo Mundo" back -- again.

Nuevo Mundo: 17th Century Music in Latin America 
Maria Cristina Kiehre, Adrian Fernandez, sopranos; Mariuccia Domenighini, alto; Pietro Valguarnera, Sandro Naglia, tenors; Roberto Balconi, contertenor; Josep Cabré; baritone 
Ensemble Elyma; Gabriel Garrido 
Glossa Cabinet GCD C80022

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Death in Comics - Godiva Danube

There's an advantage to writing a gag-a-day strip as opposed to those with continuing stories. Each strip is self-contained. Panel one sets up the gag, panel two puts it in motion, and panel three delivers the punchline. 

An adventure strip has a different outline. The first panel provides a thumbnail recap, panel two continues the story, and panel three is the cliffhanger (panels two and three are often combined). There's an art to pacing the story. Make the recap too detailed, and regular readers will get bored. Have a ho-hum cliffhanger, and new readers won't come back the next day. Don't move the story along far enough and everyone gets bored. And if there are no surprises, then over time there will be no readers.

Writer Francesco Marciuliano and artist Mike Manley continue their masterful run on Judge Parker with some truly innovative story-telling. Excerpts from this sequence that ran May-June 2018 are a good example. Marciuliano has several stories arcs running concurrently and uses them to great advantage.

In a long sequence, two contract killers return to the US. April and her father are both ex-CIA black ops agents. April's escaped from federal prison and is reluctant to return to the states. She's also the ex-wife of Judge Randy Parker.  



The person at left is Neddy Spenser. She's the adopted daughter of Abby Spenser. Her husband and Randy Parker were part of the same law firm. Did April unknowingly accept a contract on a family member?


The first twist: the door the assassins are knocking on isn't the one Neddy's behind. Note that Neddy lives in apartment 3G. Apartment 3G was started by Nicholas P. Dallis in 1961. He also created Rex Morgan, M.D. (1953), and Judge Parker (1952). 

So whose door were the killers knocking on?



Godiva Danube was a singer/actress/celebrity. She had been in a failed business with Neddy Spenser (see Sophie's Crash, part 2). Earlier in 2018, she had returned to the strip to invite Neddy to come to Hollywood with her as her PA. Neddy did go to LA, not as Danube's assistant, but as an aspiring screenwriter. That's why she's waitressing. Marciuliano also frames her sequences with movie script settings in the upper left corner.


The second twist: the cause of death. The casual reader might not remember that the contract stipulated the death was to look like natural causes.


The third twist: change of location. Danube switched hotels suddenly. So April and her father were at the wrong location. And Danube was using an alias she couldn't possibly know (as just an actress/singer).

The fourth twist: enter the CIA.  Early on in this story April was concerned that they were being lured to back to the US. The mystery of Godiva Danube's death will only deepen, and I suspect Marciuliano will keep me guessing -- one panel at a time. 



Monday, July 09, 2018

Diabelli Project 199 Woodwind Trio Mvt. 3B

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 woodwind trio project will cover six weeks, in pairs. The first week will be the beginning of a movement (written in a 10-minute flash session), and the following week, I'll continue the sketch for another 10-minute session. Then I'll move on to the next movement and continue the pattern.


This week's sketch is the second part of the final movement and the end of this series.  Basically, this week's sketch just builds towards the cadence in the last system. At that point,  the clarinet takes a solo. When I continue this sketch, I'll develop that solo further. My conception for this movement is a rondo, with each of the three instruments getting a chance to shine.


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.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Salomon Jadassohn - a Late Romantic Rediscovered

Salomon Jadassohn is better known as a teacher than a composer. While at the Leipzig Conservatory he taught Edward Grieg, Ferruccio Busoni, and Frederick Delius, just to name a few. As a composer, he completed over 140 compositions.

This release features his four Serenades for Orchestra, along with his first symphony and first piano concerto.

According to the liner notes, Jadassohn "was acknowledged to be a master of counterpoint and harmony, but he was also a gifted melodist in the tradition of Mendelssohn. His works show too the influence of Wagner and Liszt, whose music deeply impressed him."

After listening to these works, I can agree with some -- but not all -- of those assertions. Jadasssohn studied with Franz Liszt, and that influence can be heard in his 1887 piano concerto. But the Symphony No. 1 in C major seems to owe more to Schumann and Weber than Wagner. It's a nicely constructed work, with plenty of engaging melodic motifs.

The Serenades are lighter works, and I think they're the most successful of the selections. These are light, breezy pieces that revel in their flowing melodies. It's easy to hear Mendelssohn in these, especially in the Second Serenade.

The First Serenade, a set of four canons, displays Jadassohn's mastery of counterpoint. Some music historians have characterized Jadassohn's music as dry and academic. I didn't find that the case, even in these contrapuntal gems.

My only complaint with the release is the release itself. This reissue was cobbled together from some earlier albums, and sometimes the seams show. The Piano Concerto is a live recording, with a sound quality that's inferior to the other tracks.

The Serenades were all recorded with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in the same venue, though with different conductors -- Michael Laus and Marius Stravinsky. Stravinsky conducts a different ensemble -- the Belarussian State Symphony Orchestra -- in the performance of the Symphony No.1. I found these differences in the sound from piece to piece a little distracting.

Still, this mid-priced compilation is worth the investment. This is well-written music that can provide hours of enjoyment. Brahms, Wagner, and Liszt were the giants of their age, and Jadassohn stood behind them. But he still was tall enough to peek over their shoulders.

Salomon Jadassohn: Orchestral Works
Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 24  - Belarussian State Symphony Orchestra; Marius Stravinsky, conductor
Serenade for flute and strings Op. 80 - Rebecca Hall, flute; Malta Philharmonic Orchestra; Michael Laus, conductor
Serenade No. 2 in D Op. 46 - Malta Philharmonic Orchestra; Marius Stravinsky, conductor
Serenade No. 3 in A major, Op. 47  - Malta Philharmonic Orchestra; Michael Laus, condcutor
Serenade No. 1 in 4 Canons, Op. 42  - Malta Philharmonic Orchestra; Marius Stravinsky, conductor
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor Op. 89  - Valentina Seferinova, piano; Karelia State Symphony Orchestra; Denis Vlasenko, conductor
Cameo Classics CC9101
2 CD Set

Friday, July 06, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #NAFTAclassics Week 1

We have an international mix of contributors to the #ClassicsaDay feed. July has significant holidays for two of the three countries in North America. So, at the suggestion of a Canadian contributor, July became #NAFTAclassics, marking Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4). Mexico doesn't have a July holiday, but we decided to be inclusive rather than exclusive.




For the month, I alternated between the three countries. Here are my posts for the first week of #NAFTAclassics.


Michael Torke (American, 1961 - ) - July for saxophone quartet

Torke has been described as a post-minimalist. His music often draws on elements of American history and pop culture. Torke wrote "July" to capture the feel of the month.



John Wyre (Canadian, 1941–2006) - Marubatoo

Percussionist and composer Wyre was born in the United States and immigrated to Canada. founded the Nexus Ensemble. He was also on the faculty of the University of Toronto and was the artistic director for World Drums. "Marubatoo" was written for the Nexus Ensemble.




Silvestre Revueltas (Mexican, 1899–1940) - Ocho X Radio

Revueltas was a composer, violinist, and conductor. He worked to promote contemporary Mexican classical music. "Ocho X Radio" was written in 1933 specifically for radio broadcast.



Joseph Vézina (Canadian, 1849–1924) - Mosaique sur des airs populaires canadiens

Vézina was a noted Quebec conductor and composer. He wrote three opéra comiques, and helped found the Laval University music school. His students include Henri Gagnon and Robert Talbot.



Gabriela Ortiz (Mexican, 1964 - ) - La Calaca

Born in Mexico City, Ortiz has become a major figure in Mexican classical music. And she has an international reputation as well. Among her many honors are a Fulbright Fellowship, a Banff Center for the Arts Residency, and first prize in the Silvestre Revueltas National Chamber Music Competition.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 094 - Forge

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.

094. Forge

This was an easy toy to build. Of course, it's non-functional. But it looks like it could work. 

As I near the end of this project, I find it increasingly difficult to get these pieces to stay together. The fiberboard washers are a little worn, so they don't grip the girders tightly. Every time I adjusted one part of the frame, the other would start to come apart. Good thing there are only six more toys to build!


Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A July 4th Program That's Truly Liberating

There many ways to create a classical music program for July 4th. Most programmers just take the path of least resistance. While tradition is important (and comforting), our American musical heritage is rich, diverse, and exciting. And it can add deeper meaning to our Independence Day celebration.

July 4, 2018, I'm hosting a three-hour radio program on WTJU. Here's what I've programmed -- and why.

Patriotic Music of the Revolution

I'm airing four selections that were popular in the Revolutionary and Federalist Eras. Yankee Doodle (1770), The Boston March (1774), The Liberty Tree (1780), and Jefferson and Liberty (1810).

The performances by Joel Cohen and the Boston Camerata are historically authentic. These rough-hewn songs shine with optimism and idealistic energy. This is the America of the Founding Fathers.

Patriotic Music about the Revolution

I'm also featuring Michael Torke's latest work, Unconquered (2018).  It commemorates the 1777 Battle of Saragota, which marked a turning point in the War of Independence. The final movement, "Liberty" expresses optimism for the fledgling nation.

Patriotic Music from Mr. Jefferson's University

WTJU is a broadcast service of the University of Virginia. Several of my selections are related either to the University or its founder, Thomas Jefferson.

Made in America (2001) by American composer Joan Tower was jointly commissioned by 65 small and regional American orchestras. The piece was premiered in all 50 states over a two-year period.

It's a set of variations on America the Beautiful. One of the commissioning orchestras (and therefore one of Tower's tour stops), was the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra (now the Charlottesville Symphony).  

Randall Thompson wrote The Testament of Freedom (1943) while on the faculty of the University's music department. It was written for the University of Virginia's Glee Club to commemorate the bicentennial of Jefferson's birth. Thompson used Jefferson's writings for the text, delivering a message of hope to a nation fighting for freedom in the Second World War.

Patriotic Music in an American voice

Aaron Copland is the American classical composer most often programmed for the 4th. Sure "Fanfare for the Common Man" has a populist appeal. But he wasn't the only one forging an American identity in the field. Contemporaries such as Randall Thompon (see above), Walter Piston, Virgil Thomson, William Schuman and Roy Harris also contributed to American music.

I'm airing Roy Harris' 1040 "American Creed." It's a short orchestral work with two parts: "Freedom to Dream" and "Freedom to Build." Quintessentially American concepts expressed in an American classical style.

Patriotic Music of Inclusion

We're all immigrants -- the only difference is how recently we arrived. Henry Cowell's "American Melting Pot" (1940) celebrates our immigrant nation by blending musical traditions of several cultures that contributed to the American experience. The movements are labeled: Chorale (Teutonic-American),  Air (Afro-American), Satire (Franco-American), Alapna (Oriental-American), Slavic Dance (Slavic-American), Rhumba (Latin-American), Square Dance (Celtic-American).

And let's not forget Native Americans. I'm airing Charles Tomlinson Griffes Two Sketches Based on Indian Themes (1910). Not all of his source material is identified, but one of his melodies is based on a farewell song of Chippewas.

For something a little more familiar, I'm including Leonard Bernstein conducting his Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story." What could be more American than Broadway tunes, jazz, and Latino/Ameican music?

Alophus Hailstork is one of the most preeminent African-American composers living today. And he lives right here in Virginia. His work An American Port of Call captures all the bustling action of an American seaport.

Patriotic Music Beyond the Same-Old Same-Old

You can't have a 4th of July concert without a Sousa march. Plenty of folks will program the Stars and Stripes Forever. I chose his Hail to the Spirit of Liberty March. John Philip Sousa and his band represented the United States at the 1900 Paris Exposition. The march was written for this event. The band played it to great acclaim throughout Europe.

Many people think American classical music ended with Aaron Copland and/or Leonard Bernstein who are dead. It didn't. Kenneth Fuchs (b. 1956) is one of several American composers writing in an accessible contemporary style. I chose his 2008  American Rhapsody, a beautiful romance for violin and orchestra work that deserves to be better known.

Patriotic fanfares can be stirring. Morton Gould's American Salute (1943) was written literally overnight for a wartime broadcast. It's a set of variations on the Civil War tune When Johnny Comes Marching Home. Two historic references in one!

America is a standard patriotic piece. Charles Ives' Variations on America (1891) is anything but.

And finally, everyone loves a good march. But which one to play? I went with Henry Mancini's march from the movie "The Great Race." It's a mash-up of just about every famous march with a sprinkle of Mancini magic.

And here's the thing -- I still only scratched the surface. America has an amazing treasury of music written by us for us. And it keeps growing every year. That's what my show tomorrow will be all about -- looking at where we've been,  and how far we've come.*

*musically, that is



Unconquered - Michael Torke's Positive Patriotism

In my opinion, Michael Torke is something of a national treasure. He has the rare ability to take elements of American culture and develop them with all the tools of a contemporary classical composer.

The end result is music that sounds distinctly American. It's always connected to the traditions of the past, but with a sound that could only be possible in the present. His music is always accessible and -- most important -- in his own voice.

"Unconquered" is but the latest example. This 25-minute tone poem was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Torke uses it to commemorate another historical moment. The 1777 Battle of Saragota, which marked a turning point in America's War of Independence.

The work has four movements. The heraldic trumpets of the first movement summon the troops. The second "Dawn," evokes a misty morning before the attack. "Advance" captures the emotional essence of conflict, while "Liberty" celebrates an awakening American spirit.

As Torke writes, "For me, [this music] comes from a love of history and a regard for the aspirational.... Neither battlefield nor bloodshed is depicted... only the expression of moods conjured by these images."

And Torke succeeds admirably. This is a work that sounds timeless and timely. And it's truly a patriotic work in the best sense of the word.

The Philadelphia Orchestra directed by Cristian Macelaru do this music justice. The power the ensemble envokes makes the emotional impact that much stronger.

Michael Torke: Unconquered
The Philadelphia Orchestra; Cristian Macelaru, conductor
Ecstatic Records ER92271

Monday, July 02, 2018

Diabelli Project 198 Woodwind Trio Mvt. 3A

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 woodwind trio project will cover six weeks, in pairs. The first week will be the beginning of a movement (written in a 10-minute flash session), and the following week, I'll continue the sketch for another 10-minute session. Then I'll move on to the next movement and continue the pattern.


This week's sketch begins the final movement. Everything grew out of the first two measures. There are two motifs - the three-note ascending figure in measure one, and the descending figure in measure two. As you can see, I sort of mixed and matched.

3/16 might be a little extreme for a meter, but I wanted lightness and speed. 3/8 might have served, but 16th notes just look faster.



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.