Monday, February 22, 2016

Special late-Monday "Better Call Saul" edition: Chuck McGill plays the Fauré "Sicilienne"!

Sure enough, there's a piano in Chuck McGill's living room! Given the light level, don't hold me to it, but isn't this Howard (Patrick Fabian), the managing partner of Chuck's law firm, arriving for his "delivery for McGill" in tonight's Better Call Saul episode, "Cobbler"?

by Ken

If there's one thing probably none of us expected to see, it was Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) at the piano playing the piano part of Fauré's Sicilienne. But there it was, at the top of tonight's Better Call Saul episode, with something like this score page just visible to Chuck, and to us, with the little bit of natural light that found its way into his otherwise-dark living room -- Chuck can't, of course, have electric light.

Krzysztof Smietana, violin; John Blakely, piano. Meridian, recorded c1993?


Sunday, February 14, 2016

No proper post today, but let's listen to Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances"

by Ken

Except for a brief interlude or two, I've had no Internet (and most of that time no phone!) connection most of the day, so I've given up trying to do a post.

As you know, we still need to finish up with Ariadne auf Naxos, but I was also thinking about another post, which would involve Rachmaninoff's last major work, the Symphonic Dances, so for now I thought I'd just present this (unidentified) performance of this virtually symphonic suite of three dances, with some background chatter cribbed from Wikipedia:

RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

i. Non allegro
ii. Andante con moto (Tempo di valse)
iii. Lento assai -- Allegro vivace


Sunday, February 7, 2016

"The secret of life is revealed to them in it," says the Composer of his "Ariadne auf Naxos"

"Das Geheimnis des Lebens tritt an sie heran, nimmt sie bei der Hand" ("The secret of life is revealed to them in it, takes them by the hand")

Sena Jurinac (s), Composer; Vienna Philharmonic, Erich Leinsdorf, cond. RCA-Decca, recorded 1958

Tatiana Troyanos (ms), Composer; San Francisco Opera Orchestra, János Ferencsik, cond. Live performance, Oct. 28, 1977

Irmgard Seefried (s), Composer; Vienna Philharmonic, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance from the Salzburg Festival, Aug. 7, 1954

Julia Varady (s), Composer; Gewandhaus Orchestra (Leipzig), Kurt Masur, cond. Philips, recorded January 1988

by Ken

This is, in case you hadn't guessed, once again the possibly over-earnest Composer, in the Prologue to Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Ariadne auf Naxos, having just heard that a little comedy dance entertainment is to be given following the premiere of his new opera seria, Ariadne on Naxos, here in the home of the richest man in Vienna.

This 10-11 seconds of music is one of those infinitely deep-reaching musical nuggets we've been encountering all through the Prologue to Ariadne -- for that matter, all through the opera as a whole -- which lodge in the most intimate recesses of the mind and don't let go. Lately we've been focusing more on the comic view of life represented in the opera by the grand comedienne Zerbinetta and her quartet of commedia dell'arte players, as against the view embodied in the plight of the abandoned Ariadne as argued by her deeply feeling Composer. Now I think we need to return to the Composer's point of view.