Concert Concat 2024

This post is one in a sequence which lists live music I have heard, as best my memory allows. I update this as time permits. In some cases, I am also motivated to write about what I heard.

Other posts in this collection can be found here.

  • Elias String Quartet in the first of 4 concerts of the String Quartets of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, Wigmore Hall, Sunday 7 April 2024.
    • Felix Mendelssohn: Four Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 81 Posth. (1847, 1847, 1843 and 1827)
    • Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartet in E Flat (1834)
    • Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F Minor, Op. 80 (1847)
  • Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment: Bach’s Easter Oratorio and two cantatas at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank, London, Wednesday 27 March 2024.
    • Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen (Rejoice, you hearts), BWV 66
    • Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden (Stay with us, for evening falls) BWV 6
    • Oster-Oratorium, BWV 249
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Loud Living in Cambridge

I was most fortunate this week to hear Jan Lisiecki in an outstanding recital at the West Road Concert Hall, Department of Music, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, on 26 February 2024, in a concert sponsored by Camerata Musica Cambridge. West Road Hall is a fine modern hall with very nice acoustics, and was fully packed. The hall management turned off the lights over the audience (as in a theatre), which should happen more often. Perhaps that darkness helped create the atmosphere of great seriousness this performance had. I later learnt that this recital was the twelfth time in the series that Mr Lisiecki had played the Preludes program.

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Vale: Peter Schickele (1935-2024)

The composer and musician Peter Schickele, manager of that lesser-known last son of JS Bach, PDQ Bach, has just died. He was heavily influenced by Spike Jones, whose music was a strong presence in my household growing up. With the death last year of Barry Humphries, it feels like the 1950s may now just have ended.

From his obituary in The New York Times, Mr Schickele is quoted as having said in an interview with the Times in 2015:

“Years ago I used to watch Victor Borge, still concertizing in his 80s. And it never occurred to me that I would do the same. I’m amazed that P.D.Q. has gone on for 50 years.

It just goes to show: Some people never learn.”

Transcendent music

Some years ago, I compiled a list of purposes that may motivate composers, performers or listeners of music, under the heading What is music for?

An objective that may motivate many performers is that of reaching a transcendent state, as the Russian-Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg, describes here. His blog post was written after he had performed all five Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Brussels Philharmonic (under Thierry Fischer) across three evenings, in February 2020 (blog entry of 18 February 2020):

The high point for me was No. 4, during which I experienced something which until now I’ve only felt while playing Russian music: a kind of floating, when your brain disengages or splits in two. One (small) part is alert and following the performance, and perhaps directs the musical flow a little bit, the other (much larger) part is completely sunk into the music, experiencing it in a kind of visceral, instinctive way which precludes logical thinking and seems wired directly to your deepest feelings, without any buffers or defenses. After that concerto I was drained, bewildered, exhilarated – a complete mess. But what an unforgettable night.”

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Concert Concat 2

This post is one in a sequence which lists live music I have heard, as best my memory allows, from the Pandemic onwards. I will update this as time permits. In some cases, I am also motivated to write about what I heard.

Other posts in this collection can be found here.

  • Ariel Lanyi – piano recital at the Wigmore Hall, London, 27 December 2023. The program was:
    • Beethoven: Sonata #2 in A, Op 2 No 2 (1794-5)
    • Franck: Prelude, Aria et Final (1887)
    • R. Schumann: Etudes Symphoniques Op 13 (with posthumous etudes) (1834-7)

    A very refined performance to a house about 3/4 full. Many people seemed to know each other. I was not able to stay for the Schumann.

    Continue reading ‘Concert Concat 2’

Concert Halls

Herewith a list of concert halls and venues in which I have been fortunate to experience musical performances (excluding working Churches).

  • The Barbican Concert Hall, London
  • Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Brisbane City Hall, Brisbane
  • Cadogan Hall, London
  • Casino Civic Hall, Casino, NSW
  • City Recital Hall, Sydney
  • Sir John Clancy Auditorium, University of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Ballroom, Corinthia Hotel, London
  • Salle de Flagey, Brussels
  • Salle Gaveau, Paris
  • Hamburgische Staatsoper, Hamburg
  • Hamer Concert Hall, Melbourne
  • Ipswich Civic Hall, Ipswich, Queensland
  • King’s Place, London
  • Leggate Theatre, University of Liverpool, Liverpool
  • City Hall, Lismore, NSW
  • Llewellyn Hall, Canberra School of Music, Canberra, ACT
  • LSO St Luke’s, London
  • Auditorium, Maison de la Radio et de la Musique, Paris
  • Melba Hall, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Melbourne
  • Milton Court Concert Hall, Guildhall School of Music, London
  • Old Museum Concert Hall, Brisbane
  • Auditorium, St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Nudgee, Brisbane
  • Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London
  • Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London
  • Regent Hall (Salvation Army Centre), Oxford Street, London
  • Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London
  • Royal Albert Hall, London
  • Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, London
  • Performance Hall, Royal College of Music, London
  • Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
  • Concert Hall, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
  • Golden Concert Room, St George’s Hall, Liverpool
  • Recital Hall, Seoul Arts Centre, Seoul
  • Seymour Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney
  • State Theatre, Sydney
  • Steinway Hall, London
  • Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
  • Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House
  • Sydney Town Hall, Sydney
  • Tanglewood, MA
  • Theatre des Champs Elysees, Paris
  • Tyalgum Literary Institute Hall, Tyalgum, NSW
  • Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney
  • West Road Concert Hall, Department of Music, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • Wigmore Hall, London

Recent Reading 18: Copeland Family Edition

The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order. In this edition, the books include several written by Miles Copeland II and his sons, Miles III, Ian and Stewart Copeland, or about them.

  • Ian Copeland [1999]: Wild Thing: The Backstage – on the Road -in the Studio – Off the Charts: Memoirs of Ian Copeland. Simon and Schuster.
  • Miles Copeland II [1989]: The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA’s Original Political Operative. Aurum Press. A well-written and fascinating, but often unreliable, account of Miles Copeland’s life. I admire the great intellectual heft and subtlety of political analysis Copeland demonstrates, something he shared with his contemporaries among the founders of CIA. These features stands in great contrast to the simple-minded nature of many of the attacks on intelligence, both from the State Department and the Pentagon in the 1950s, and from the left in the years since.

    It is interesting that a book published in 1989, in a chapter about his work in the US intelligence community in the late 1940s, argues that the main thrust of Soviet aggression towards the West was expected even then by Copeland and some of his intelligence community colleagues to be disinformation campaigns (dezinformatzia) directed against the West (page 74).

    It was unexpected but very heartening to see how much he despised the Moral Re-Armament (MRA) movement.

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Musical influence

Listening to the string quarters of Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), his Basque composition student Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga (1806-1826), and those of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), we can hear the influence of musical ideas. I thought it interesting to list their quartets in the order they were composed. (In the list below, each quartet is prefaced by the composer’s initials.). Arriaga’s three quartets were published in 1824, but may have been written well before.  It is interesting that Cherubini had only written one string quartet before meeting Arriaga, while after Arriaga’s three were written, Cherubini then wrote another five.
1814: LC Quartet No. 1 in Eb major
1822 October: Arriaga moved to Paris from Bilbao
1824: JA Quartet No.1 in D minor
1824: JA Quartet No. 2 in A major
1824: JA Quartet No.3 in Eb major
1825 Spring: Mendelssohn’s father took his son to Paris to visit with Cherubini, and while there Mendelssohn may also have met with Arriaga
1825: FM Octet in Eb major, Op. 20
1826: Death of Arriaga
1827: FM Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13
1829: LC Quartet No. 2 in C major
1829: FM Quartet No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 12
1834: LC Quartet No. 3 in D minor
1835: LC Quartet No. 4 in E
1835: LC Quartet No. 5 in F
1837: LC Quartet No. 6 in A minor
1837/9: FM Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2
1838: FM Quartet No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 44, No. 3,
1838: FM Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44, No. 1
1842: Death of Cherubini
1847: FM Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80
1847: Death of Mendelssohn.

Wowsers

The views of philosopher Peter Singer have always struck me as humourless and puritanical.  Confirmation of a conflict in our respective values comes today in a quotation from his latest book in a review in the NYT by Dwight Garner:

Writing about the sale of paintings by artists like Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol for obscene sums at Christie’s, he declares: “Why would anyone want to pay tens of millions of dollars for works like these? They are not beautiful, nor do they display great artistic skill. They are not even unusual within the artist’s oeuvres. Do an image search for ‘Barnett Newman’ and you will see many paintings with vertical color bars, usually divided by a thin line. Once Newman had an idea, it seems, he liked to work out all the variations.”

Well, others may see these art works as beautiful, so it takes some arrogance to assert the contrary subjective opinion as if it were objective fact. As well as learning how much he values his own aesthetic judgment over anyone else’s, from this we also learn that Singer does not like modern art; he apparently also lacks the capability of seeing the beauty inherent in subtle variations of a single, simple theme. The first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth must also not be to his taste, for working out all the variations of the one idea is all that movement is. And let us not mention the minimalist works of JS Bach, where there may be even fewer ideas than one.

Even when his works of art are considered individually, some of Newman’s art is sublime, for example, the painting “Midnight Blue,” (pictured), currently on display at the Royal Academy in London, as part of the RA’s Abstract Expressionism Exhibition.    In my experience, to appreciate the sublime, one needs to disengage one’s left-brain (for right-handed people) – the verbal, rational, sequential side – and seek to appreciate the work with one’s right-brain – the intuitive, holistic side;  in other words:  don’t think about the painting, just feel it.  Most English-language philosophers, in my experience, are all left-brain, all the time. (George Santayana, who wrote poetry as well as philosophy, was perhaps an exception.)

And to mention only the beauty of an art work, or the supposed artistic skill needed for its creation, would seem to indicate an impoverished view of the many purposes and functions of art.  At least one purpose of painting, and a common motivation for people who paint, is not to produce beautiful (or indeed, ugly) objects, but to express oneself through the act of painting. This was famously the purpose of the artists who came to be called abstract expressionists, of whom Newman is one.  Closely related, one  may  also paint in order to express the feelings one has while engaged in the act of painting.  (See here for a discussion of this purpose, and here for lists of reasons why people may draw or make music. Beauty is not the half of it.)  Nothing in Singer’s words indicates that he has any appreciation of these other purposes, or that he has even read or reflected on the extensive literature in philosophy, history, theology, and anthropology on art and aesthetics.   Of course, one can be a famous philosopher without knowing much of anything except one’s own special topic and being blind to non-verbal ways of knowing and understanding, as the humourless Bertrand Russell showed.