Monday, May 08, 2006

SPEIGELBERG PLEASE ACCEPT THIS BLOG!

..okay....so..its about 12 an a half...or 45 minutes late........ crap..

My blog is on Elise Balzer's recital..it was AMAZING!..I didn't really know much of her rep. so i cant comment on it Other than her emotional performance was stunning. When she performed Liu's two arias from Turandot, she almost cried and moved me to tears as well. You could hear the sobbing in her tone and see the tears welling in her eyes and yet she still produced glorious sounds. It was one of the best emotionally charged recitals i've been to. especially since she's graduating and is Barbara's last voice major ever. damn depauw politics
Well I finally remembered to do this blog, which is funny because it's our last one.
This week I spent a lot of time listening to string quartets by Dvorak because I got the idea fixed in my mind that I would analyze one of these for my theory paper. This seemed like a good idea because Dvorak is one of my favorite composers and I really like string quartet, so clearly I should write a ten page paper about one.

I chose to write about Op. 96 nicknamed "The American" but I'm not going to blog about it right now because i have to get a paper out of this so I better save my thoughts. The piece I almost chse is Op. 51. This quartet is much more lengthy than Op. 96 and also much more characteristically czech. As in Dvorak's Symphony 9, Dvorak strives to capture American folk music in quartet no. 12. In quartet no. 13 (op. 51) Dvorak's nostalgia for his homeland is much more distinct because rather than trying to mix his influences in the piece he is much more grounded in the folk music of the Czech Republic.

My favorite movement is the third, "Romanze. Andante con moto" because of its lyrical melody and beautiful line that is passed from voice to voice (or instrument to instrument if you will) This work is overall very memorable in beautiful.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Joel Elliot's Recital

This week I attended and participated in Joel Eliott's Senior recital on Sunday evening. As someone who enjoys a very ecclectic selection of music, I thoroughly enjoyed his recital as the collection of music was quite diverse. His first piece was a classical selection for piano and trombone. It was very modern and the harmony was quite different than what I am used to hearing. The second piece he played was on piano, and to my surprise, he is quite an accomplished pianist. The third and fourth songs were written by Joel himself and performed (and sung) by him on guitar. They were more folk-oriented and very cheery, giving the recital a nice intermission between the more difficult classical and jazz selections. The last 3 songs were straight from the real book (juju, in a sentimental mood, and nutville), and I participated in this section of the recital. It was very fun and entertaining. Thompson has very nice acoustics and we were able to jive as a combo very nicely. Overall, the performance was very different from what would normally be played at a senior recital and it was a breath of fresh air for me.

Chicago XXX

So, I got the brand new Chicago studio album, Chicago XXX, as one of my birthday gifts over spring break, and I'm definitely glad that I did. This is Chicago's first album of new original material in over a decade, but it was worth the wait.

The album starts out with their new hit single "Feel." This is the first single to feature Robert Lamm's lead vocals is quite a long while. Lamm is one of the few remaining original members of the band, and is the writer of such hits as "25 or 6 to 4," "Saturday In The Park," "Colour My World," "Questions 67 & 68," and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?." He is in perfect vocal form on this album. His smooth baritone grasps the listener from the start. He even shows off some belting, quite impressively.

The next song is "King Of What Might Have Been" which features Jason Scheff's maturing tenor voice. Scheff replaced the legendary Peter Cetera in the late 80's, and really started out as a pure imitation of him. However, on this album, he really shows his own creative edge. He also sings on the tight harmonic track, "Caroline."

The vocalist who really dominates this album is the epic Bill Champlin, who replaced Terry Kath after he died. After Cetera left Chicago, Champlin was the one who generated the most hit material, including "Look Away," "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love," "Chasin' The Wind," "You're Not Alone." On this album he soars with "Why Can't We," "Already Gone," "Lovin' Chains," and "Better."

What makes this album great is that it sounds like a mix of the styles of the early Chicago and the later Chicago. This isn't just an album filled with ballads, which is what they resorted to in order to live in Cetera's shadow. They have a lot of upbeat jazzy and funky tunes. This may be due to leadership shown by Lamm and Champlin. They have a lot of modern pop tricks in their sound, probably thanks to producer Jay DeMarcus. All of the instruments sound great as usual. Chicago prove themselves as true professional musicians yet again.

Mozart +Woodwinds= you know

So yeah, probably the only people understand the title are Jessi and Corinne, but I thought it was funny. I'm writing tonight on the piece I'm analyzing for the theory paper: Mozart, Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major K. 297b. I think one of the most interesting things about this piece is that there is great controversy as to whether Moazart actually wrote it. I should probably say that is is attributed to Mozart. Anyway, it's still music, and where there is music, there is analysis...

The three movement work is for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and orchestra. I really like this piece as a whole, and the performance I have of it is amazing. A double exposition, first by the orchestra and then the soloists, opens the first movement with a somewhat jarring offset of meter. Although I guess if you are really paying attention the meter is still present. The way the soloists' sounds are woven together is usually a sort of call and answer, with a lot of unison and sequences. There are couple of place with an Alberti bass pattern in both the clarinet and bassoon.
The second movement is an adagio with intensely lyric falling patterns in first the bassoon, then clarinet, ending up in the oboe, which hands the melody to the horn. The solo parts really are fairly equal in how often they have the melody versus background parts.
The last movement is a theme with variations, and probably my favorite movement of the entire work. An orchestral interlude is in between each variation. A bouncy theme in the oboe seems to get mouthed off by the clarinet in the first variation, like a child back-talking a parent. The second variation is led by the bassoon with a legato line, interacting slightly with the horn.
The third variation brings it back to the clarinet, moving into triplet rhythms. A dolce fourth variation is dominated by the oboe, almost sounding menore. The fifth variation brings us back to duple with slured eighth notes in oboe and clarinet.
The sixth variation opens with flare on an oboe run which weaves with clarinet runs. The seventh variation is a duet between the horn and bassoon at first, moving into the clarinet. The ends of the phrases are owned by the oboe.
The eighth variation is a figural variation in the oboe with eigth notes interjected into the theme. The ninth variation opens with an impossible horn run to which Corinne says "Who are you?" It is reminiscent of the sixth variation. The tenth variation is again dolce with suspension sequences in the oboe against the rest of the quartete. This variation is extended by two measures compared to the rest. The final variations are in a triple meter, seeming to skip to the end of the piece. They alternate phrases between the oboe and clarinet for the most part. The last variation starts slow and then accelerandos to the end.

Tosca

Is AWESOME! And now that I"m getting good at the Italian language it's even more awesome cause I can understand most of it, without reading the subtitles. I think Puccini is a genius. He uses motives to represent each character and presents them in a very subtile way. Which rocks! My favorite part musically and dramatically is when Tosca kills Scarpia. There is this gorgeous dramtic music that just swells and takes over the drama. I love when music and drama can match so well. Music can create such mood swings too. For instance: At the end of the opera Tosca thinks that her lover Cavodossi is going to be fakely executed, but he is really killed. At first the music is all hopefully and rather casual, but as Tosca realizes that Cavadossi is really dead the music quicly changes with the realization. It is a beautiful and horrific moment in the opera.

Jesus Deserves ALL the Praise!

I know the title to this blog seems a bit strange...but contextually, when you realize that this is the last blog I have to write...ever...i think Jesus deserves some praise...if not all of it (lol). As much fun as i have writing these dumb things, i think I'll enjoy not having to write them much more. Um...so, yeah

Last week, I said I was gonna write about the "classical music tour" i was taking...highlighting the Austrian stop I was supposed to make. Scratch that...because I wasn't all that pleased with what I heard. Instead, I'm gonna take a brief moment and talk about a little German Romantic Piece that I enjoy analyzing for this dumb paper due Wednesday: Dichterliebe (by Robert Schumann)

There are 16 movements...(i know...*cringe*...). At this point, i've gotten to about half of them, but tomorrow, I'm gonna make a HUGE push to get to the rest. I've read the texts for all of them, and am quite impressed. The cycle on the whole is about love, through the eyes of a poet (hence the name Dichterliebe ~ Poet's Love). From the beginning, the poet is happy because love has found him, but by the end, he's upset and deep in sorrow because love has left. (very sad).

The music is quite interesting, and the cycle is one of the most famous of its kind. Interesting enough, though is the fact that many of the movements are ridiculously hard to analyze, because they're so short...but we'll work on that for Wednesday!

Happy Blogging!
James

Mozart - JUST SAY NO TO CATHOLICISM!!!!!

I'm in a cynical mood right now. Very bad weekend, you know the whole deal, Michael's depressed... yadda yadda yadda....And to tell you the truth, I would've rather had a root canal than sit through the mass I saw the orchestra and chorus perform today. Nothing against the performers or anything, it just didn't tickle my fancy. I'm sure it was kind of rude that Joel Elliot and I both dozed off half way through, but I could not stay awake.
I did recognize a few things from the mass, like the terms that I learned in music history. It was also nice to have a printed transcription of the words so that you could see what people were saying. I also found it odd that both Professor Crouch and Smith wrote a commontary about performing the piece. I think that helped the audience realize the complexity of setting something like this up.
I also didn't know that there were solosits during the mass. I figured it was like people singing the kyrie, gloria, etc... but this was premiered as an actual performance piece.
The reason why I didn't like the Mozart mass was because I just really don't get entertained by vocal music. A lot of it seemed to blend together because it was all in sequence. No offense to the performers or anything (I can only imagine what you think of some of the crap that I play) but I just don't like it. The only part I enjoyed was the duet between Liz Hartnett (despite her walking stage front while the orchestra was still playing and you could hear her shoes) and another mezzo. The imitative counterpoint they sang was beautiful and really impressed me.
It was rather interesting to hear what an old-school style mass was, but I would've been more entertained to hear some Gregorian chant out of my music history book.
It also amazes me that people could be that into religion than to sit through all of that every Sunday (I may be uneducated about this, but it's a mass right? so therefore I thought it was played at the service, right?) Anyway, it was the last recital that I needed credit for and that's that folks! From now on I'll stick to Carmina Burana for my choral selection.

Last post...i think

Trisha's Recital- May 5, 2006
Trisha started her recital off with Bach’s aria, “qui sedes ad dextram Patris” from Mass in B Minor which showed off her voice and Amanda’s piano playing. She then sang a song cycle of gypsy songs in German by Brahms. They were quite short and I especially liked the one about the roses.
"S’manie implacabili" from Cosi fan tutte opened the second part of the recital..it seems like I’ve heard this piece sung a ton lately. It has a showy recicitive and the aria is very memorable, but it’s Mozart so what do you expect.
Next Trisha sang a Poulenc song cycle, Le Bestiaire, which was delivered quite well. Much character is needed for these songs and Trish certainly told the stories through her eyes. They were very short pieces which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, they went from one about dophins to one about a grasshopper, but were pretty cute. Paper wings, a song cycle by Jake Heggie was next. These also didn’t seem like they had any relevance to each other either. But each individually was really funny and tonally very interesting.
The program ended with two musical theatre pieces, Stars and the Moon from Songs for a New World and then the last piece, Trish sang with Sarah Fox, “For Good” from Wicked. Pretty much the whole audience was in tears.
Overall it was a very assorted and emotional program.

Mozart 40

So, since I spent a bit too much time this weekend with Mozart 40, I am going to give you a preview of the piece. The piece is interesting to analyze, for three out of the four movements in this symphony are in sonata form. Without giving too much away about the content of my paper, each of the sonata form movement really is formed in a different way. It is interesting to see the ways in which Mozart has taken a relatively strict form and changed it to make it accessible yet interesting in three movements. It is also very interesting to see a second movement in sonata form. I really like this form for a slow movement; it allows the thematic material to get beyond simply a statement when you have three distinct shots at it in the expo, develop, and recap. This symphony is one of his later and is arguably the most famous symphony that he wrote. The piece was originally written without clarinet parts, but it is evident he revised the score at a later date to accommodate his clarinetist friends. There are parts of this work that, if heard out of context, you would believe were from the sometime in the romantic period or perhaps later. Each of the movements has a different emotion associated with it with a range of emotions within each of these movements. Ok, I think that is enough…I don’t want to repeat what I have said in my paper, so yeah. This is a very cool piece and according to Jessi, “it gets in your head really easily" and she would know since I subjected her to it a few times.

Beethoven Op. 28 and me

I realize that I have all ready blogged on the first movement of this piece, but I've listened to the last three movements much more fully this weekend than probably any piece all semester. The second and third movements are both composite ternary form. The third movement is a fun one- Sonata Rondo! Of course, I dont want to reveal too much of what I wrote in my paper, but I'm willing to share a few interesting tidbits.

First of all, Beethoven does not leave the tonic key of D major in this work. Usually the second movement will be written in the dominant or something, but all Beethoven does is change the mode. The second movement is in d minor.

Also, it is well documented that the second movement of this piano sonata was Beethoven's favorite and he would play it for himself all the time. It's also the least "Pastoral" of the work.

Another interesting thing, is the phrase length in the first movement. Beethoven uses
ten measure long phrases, which is a rather uneven number.

Lastly, I learned (from analyzing and from Corinne) that Sonata Rondo form is a lot harder to analyze than it seems. Transitions can be longer than you think, and that you should not choose a symphony to analyze... especially one with three movements in sonata form. you're likely to spend hours and hours on one movement, cursing the composer to no end.

crazy death music...but freakin awesome

I listened to the new TOOL album that came out Tuesday. It is quite simply amazing. Along with the polyrhythms and great lyrics, this band adds so much more than anything I've ever heard with metal music. I'm not a huge fan of dark metal or "death" metal but this is easily one of my favorite bands and forms of music I've ever heard. Their innovativeness preceeds anything that will ever be played again. No one can recreate music like this. Even if you don't like the style of music, all of you should have some sort of respect for the talent that each of these musicians have. Use it to get motivated for finals...

This site really hates me

So as some of you may know, I haven't been able to access the site in weeks. BOO BLOGGER!! Anyway, I will put my last post up with pride. German Lieder are funny. They all sound similar. While I was sitting in the German diction recital on Wednesday, I realized that all of the songs sound similar (except for James's song from Tannhaeuser, which was very well done). Most of the German Lieder we sang were from the same time period (Romantic), with a few classical and 20th century, and I realized then and there that one can tell the era just by listening (I probably should have realized this during music history, it would have come in handy). I also realized that Schumann sounds different than Schubert who sounds different from Brahms. One can tell which songs are Schumann, Schubert, or Brahms just from listening. The three have very different styles which all fit into the style of Romantic Lied. Many of the songs are strophic or in rounded binary or ternary. Mine was rounded binary. Good times. Singers, yay last diction concert EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mozart Rocks My Face Off!

Ok, I know some people don't like Mozart, but I do! So you know I had tons of fun performing his Mass in C minor this afternoon. Not only was it a great honor and experience being a soloist, but also being able to perform it. I felt we did pretty well on it too.

I know Mozart used a lot of inspiration from Haydn (or was it Handel? I always get those two mixed up). You can tell by the way he uses pattern runs in the "Cum Sancto Spiritu" and "Osanna" movements.

Another cool thing about Mozart with this peice is how the orchestra reiterates what the chorus sings. Very much like part doubling. I think he used that to highlight certian texts and passages. The use of his text painting is wonderful.

I found my favorite movements were the "Kyrie" and "Qui tollis". "Kyrie" has such a beautiful yet tense melody and sound. Unlike most Kyrie movements I've heard which are light and simple, this one really grabs your attention. And when the soloist sings, than you get the sweet little light melody, like an angel coming out of the group to plead for them. But than it goes right back to that tense melody in the end. Than the "Qui tollis" I feel is the most intense of them all. I mean, you've got two choirs singing at once, making you not sure where to listen with the same intensity and energy if not more. And to add more tension, the orchestra plays those dotted eighths and sixteenths.

All in all, it's a beautiful peice of music and I love listening to it! (and singing it!)

Mozart definitly rocks my face off!

the complete atomic basie

one of my favorite albums of all time, I spent some time relaxing to count basie's "the complete atomic basie"

Every single track on the album is great, swinging like crazy. The opening track, the kid from red bank, is a huge up-tempo tune that, again, swings like crazy. The count has a solo, one that proves simplicity is bliss. He uses only 3-4 notes and sounds great doing it.

My favorite track on this is "splanky." I played this at a jazz camp at eastern illinois university. a simple, medium paced tune, the melody is really spectacular.

Everything on this album is wonderful, solos, time, swing, balance, trumpeters...wow.

Trisha's Recital...

It's always a little sad when a Senior does their recital as they know it is normally their last performance as a soloist at DePauw. HOwever, Trisha Wells' recital took that sadness to a new level. For reasons that I won't talk about in this blog, it was VERY hard for Trisha to be able to perform with her mom in the audience and yet it was awesome that she did.
In my opinion this recital was the BEST that I've ever heard Trisha sound. Amanda (Trisha's accompanist) was outstanding, as usual. They were very much together throughout the entire recital. The format of the repertoir was much alike any of the voice recitals, with all four of the common languages (English, German, Italian, and French). I felt that Trisha's German and French diction was especially good, and her musicality was great. Her acting was very good, however there were times when she tried to do all of her acting with her eyes rather than her entire body. The last piece of the first act that Trisha sang, Dinah's Aria - Bernstein, was beautiful and I felt that it was a GREAT piece to end with.
Trisha ended her recital with a duet from Wicked (For Good), which she sang with Sarah Fox. Before this piece began, she made an announcement to her mom that it meant the world that she was here for her last recital at DePauw. At that point, (Before the music even started) many of the people in the audience were crying. If you don't know this song from "Wicked", the words are very powerful and especially meaningful to Trisha and her life right now. Trisha began the song very beautifully, but when it was time for Sarah to come in, she couldn't do it. SHe was crying and it was very hard for her to sing. Everytime Sarah would lose it, Trish would grab her hand and sing to her. It was very sad and yet as the song went on they did hold it together and sang this piece excellent. By the end of this song about 80% of the audience was in tears or even sobbing in some cases. It was a very sad and upsetting experience, but at the same time, a VERY well done job by Trisha Wells.

last blog!!!!

So this week I listened to some Gilbert and Sullivan, more specifically the Pirates of Penzance.
The first time I ever heard this music I think I was about 5 or 6.My parents are friends with a couple that belong in some theater group that likes to put on Gilbert and Sullivan shows adn used to do them in the theater at University of Chicago.

I think my favorite song is "I am the very model of a Modern Major General" The recording I have is a little slow compared to others I've heard, but it still is an impressive piece. The lyrics are very clever, even including a jab at H.M.S Pinafore, G&S's previous operetta.

Maybe this is a strange thing to notice, but some of the songs sung by the females are somewhat similar to some Andrew Lloyd Webber writing, especially of Phantom.

The story line to Pirates is pretty strange, the main character Frederic was given as an apprentice to a band of pirates as a child when his nurse misunderstood her orders of apprenticing him to a pilot. The story takes place on his 21st birthday when he is released from his servitude. It turns out that he hates the pirate life and only has worked for them out of a sense of duty and plans on turning them in. He then falls in love iwth the major general's daughter and plans to turn the pirates in and marry her, but then the pirate king points out that he was born in leap year..so instead of turning 21 he really just turned 5, and therefore must stay with them until 1940.I don't want to ruin the ending, so I'll stop there.



so yes. last blog. yay.