Monday, February 29, 2016

Alberto Ginastera Performs Live - February 2016

Last week the Los Angeles Times interrupted its continuous coverage of the Academy Awards to run a Mark Swed review of a recent Los Angeles Philharmonic concert.  The program was all-American (unless you refuse to accept something written by a Argentinian composer as American).  It was anchored by an old Aaron Copland chestnut and included a non-film score and a piece by a native of Modesto.

The Phil will repeat the same program on tour in Europe.  Swed enthused that "Dudamel prepared to inject a dose of L.A.'s brash, even reckless, attitude toward the cautiously conservative classical music establishment."  Look out Europe, L.A. is really gonna rock your world.

Swed's review text, however, failed to mention the most interesting part.  You had to read the caption of a picture found only on an inside page of the print edition to learn this tidbit.  Here's the picture.  Click it to see it larger.  Can you spot the big news?

Yes, Alberto Ginastera will be performing his own piano concerto.  That's remarkable because Alberto passed away in 1983.  Not only is the Philharmonic shaking up the cautiously conservative establishment half a world away, they're now able to bring musicians back from the dead.  Is there nothing they can't do?  I'm very impressed.  Imagine how impressed the Europeans will be.

And it must be true because I read it in the Los Angeles Times.

There is precedent for post-mortem performers, however.  In 2008 Mixed Meters was surprised to read about a live performance by pianist Art Tatum.  Except this was in a paid advertisement in the New York Times, not an actual review.  Tatum, who died in 1956, had been dead even longer than Ginastera.

Mistakes in captions are, I'm sure, part and parcel of modern newspaper budget cutbacks.

Here's another example I clipped from the L.A. Times many years ago.  Apparently they published this on March 17, 2002 because this article is on the back of the paper.  I'm surprised to discover that I have never posted it to Mixed Meters.

Can you spot the error this time?

Yes, the man is playing a contrabass, not a cello.  Duh.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More Musical Product Names

Yes, it's another installment of the longest running Mixed Meters silly obsession: pictures of products or companies which use musical terms in their names.   Believe it or not, this is Number Ten in the series.  (Click here to see them all.)

Yeah, some of these are stretching the point.  I am unapologetic.  Click a picture for a close-up.

This time around we start with a viewfinder for a writer who makes a living creating music and follow that with a small boneless meat flute.  Yum.  Then two musical performance techniques - one for eating on a harp, the other for groups of singers who need a place to live.

Part two begins with a cold, diary-based sequence of musical tones, followed by a shorter sequence used for interior design.  There are two variations on simultaneous groups of notes, one if you're having ear, nose and throat problems, the other for coloring the tips of your fingers.  Either a high female singer or some words in a song will sartorially leave you in stitches.

Part two ends with a two-fer: a master of achieving exactly the right frequency on a mobile musical instrument.

Part three is all drinkable.

We begin with a hot caffeinated liquid which will make you sing Hallelujah.  (This was submitted by an alert Mixed Meters' reader, the diving composer Jeff Laity.  That's a first.  Thanks Jeff.)

This is followed by a health conscious operatic showpiece for women, one which first needs to be mixed with water.  Next there's a lemon of a grand opera wearing a winged helmet and a fruity rhyming South American dance.  Then a winey high-pitched string instrument and a study piece translated into Spanish.

We end, as always, with some fast, dry bubbly.  Drink up.  As they say in old Mexico, L'Chaim.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

With Extra Butter and Naughty Last Movement

With Extra Butter and Naughty Last Movement are the titles of two new 30 Second Spots.  If you don't know what the heck I mean when I say "30 Second Spot" you might want to read more about 30 Second Spots.  (It's a really old post.)  Since I started working on The Seasons more than 4 years ago I've written very few new spots.  That makes this post sort of an occasion for me.

With Extra Butter and Naughty Last Movement started out as a single piece.  That ur-piece kept getting longer and longer.  It was getting close to two minutes!  I noticed that I had created two unrelated sections.  So I severed them like a musical Ben Carson separating conjoined twins.  I doubt that qualifies me to be a Republican presidential candidate either.

With Extra Butter and Naughty Last Movement both have unhelpful titles.  Do not attempt to relate music and title.   One of these titles was selected in the classical 30 Second Spot manner - an overheard phrase; in this case it was on television rather than at a Starbucks.  The other title was selected in the current Mixed Messages manner, using a random phrase generator.  I'll let you guess which is which.

With Extra Butter and Naughty Last Movement aren't terribly interesting.  Expect no transcendent meanings, elegant harmonies or beautiful melodies.  There are no revealing formal structures, virtuosic performances or clever twisted endings.   These are simple pleasant brief quiet musical moments for piano.  They will take less time to listen to than it has taken you to read these paragraphs of exegesis.

Click here to hear Naughty Last Movement by David Ocker   -   © 2016 David Ocker - 49 seconds

Click here to hear With Extra Butter by David Ocker   -   © 2016 David Ocker - 44 seconds