Two Years On

It was two years ago today that I inaugurated listen. with this post. I just wanted to mark the occasion with a thanks to all those who have read, linked to, and/or commented on the content here. I appreciate it.


Class Act

Last September, I reviewed a concert of the Tallahassee Symphony Orhcestra that included a performance of two movements from John Mackey's Percussion Concerto, performed by John Parks.

Through the wonders of the messaging system at Classical Lounge I received this note from Mr. Mackey (quoted with his permission):

I just realized how I recognized your name. You're the critic who once called one of my pieces "brash and empty." To be honest, I didn't wholly disagree with your assessment of that particular work, and the review made me chuckle.

We had a brief exchange in which Mr. Mackey listed some of the challenges in writing a percussion concerto, how his approach has changed since he wrote the piece in question, and about finding an audience for band music.

As the title of this post indicates, he's a class act.


Díaz Trio

Review. Tallahassee Democrat, 18 September 2006.

Elsewhere, Stirling Newberry offers his perspective on Jay Greenberg, including some parallels with the current political situation.


Two Endings

Near the end of a thoughful piece on Jay Greenberg, Mark Swed, writing in the Los Angeles Times, makes this observation:

I leave you with this. At the age when Greenberg began his Fifth Symphony, John Cage was so entranced by the piano music of Edvard Grieg that he wanted to devote his life to learning every romantic note of it.

And near the end of his thoughtful post on Greenberg and the reaction to him, Greg Stepanich makes this observation:

What we might be in for is a long period of excellent music that isn’t very profound. It may take a very different kind of musical intelligence to make something truly lasting out of all the influences that are now so abundantly available.

I hope he's wrong. To paraphrase Crash Davis, "I'm too old for that shit."

Recent Listening:

Beethoven: Symphonies 3 and 5; John Eliot Gardiner; Orchestre Révolutionnaire Et Romantique.
Mozart: Requiem, Wesler-Most, et al.
Stravinsky: Music for piano and orchestra, Paul Crossley, Salonen.
Stevie Wonder: Fulfillingness' First Finale.
Don Ellis: Tears of Joy.
Adams: Näive and Sentimental Music, Salonen, LA Phil.


And furthermore . . .

I had more thoughts on Friday evening's performance of Die schöne Müllerin than I had space for in the review:

  • Mr. Olsen displayed great power in his high notes, particularly in "Impatience" (no. 7). But this power was always at the service of expression;
  • Both performances imbued the entire work with flexible and dramatic phrasing, including slight, very pregnant pauses. I noticed this especially in "Good Morning" (no. 8);
  • A very light touch from both in "The Miller's Flowers" (no. 9);
  • Desperation grows dramatically in "Jealousy and Pride" (no. 15);
  • The tension between the words and music in "The beloved color" (no. 16) was palpable in the hall;
  • The complete psychological breakdown of the persona in "The loathsome color" (no. 17);
  • The subtle changes in color from both Mr. Olsen and Mr. Fisher to represent the different voices in "The Miller and the Brook" (no. 19); and
  • The clear, open, almost näive sound in "The Brook's Lullaby" (no. 20).

If the music season lives up to this beginning, it's really going to be something to experience.