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A girly gift for girl-type girls

Boys who need gifts for music girls, hear me! Is the girl on your Christmas (or whatever) list a mystifying creature who offers no insights as to a good present for her? Is she a bizarre animal known to put colored powders on her face? For you, sir, I have good news. Behold!

This strange collection of items is the Allegro makeup set by Paul and Joe. The clutch and lip color are pretty, but check out the eyeshadows: they have musical scores all around the rim. Nifty, no? There’s also an “Adagio” set of the same style only with neutral shades. Speaking as a musical girl of sometimes girly-type, I would be most pleased to receive this. So there you are, boys. Your girl shopping is done. You are WELCOME.

You can get this set all over the interwebs; just search “Paul and Joe Allegro” or “Paul and Joe Adagio” or something similar. If you don’t feel like comparison shopping, there’s a dealer here.


A starship captain is a soaring soul

“Mr. Worf, do you know Gilbert and Sullivan?”

“… No, sir. I have not had a chance to meet all the new crew members since I’ve been back.”

I went through a major Gilbert and Sullivan phase in high school. My dad’s a fan, and we had a CD by The King’s Singers of various G&S operetta selections. Then I discovered my dad’s copy of the omnibus edition of all of the librettos edited by Martin Greene — well, all except The Grand Duke and Utopia, Ltd. because for some reason Greene felt they didn’t count — and I wiled away a few happy school days reading every one (listen, if I had paid attention in school I would’ve gotten a lot less reading done).

Okay, that’s exposition item number one. Item number two involves Thanksgiving evening, when my dad and I were watching the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Picard gets turned into the Borg named Locutus, because that’s how we roll. During one of the commercials he told me about the following clip, including the above quote, and I knew that I had to find it and share it with you. It is glorious.

A black day, indeed


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Give thanks for viola jokes

Q. How many talented violists can you fit in a phone booth?

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Just add bicycle pump

Still haven’t figured out my holiday gift omnibus, but I decided to get started on this year’s list anyway because we’re running out of time. Gift #1 for the classical music enthusiast in your life looks like this:

I KNOW. It’s an INFLATABLE COUCH WITH SPEAKERS IN IT that has a jack for HOOKING UP YOUR IPOD. And as the website claims, it’s happy chair fashion! Throw in a Stravinsky CD and an alcoholic beverage and that’s an ideal Christmas Eve. Probably not good for cat owners, though, or anything… clawed.

It’ll run you about $200 where I found it, but I doubt it’s the only one of its kind so you may want to shop around.


Me against the music (assuming I’m a piano)

Good morning, campers! No BSO concert this week, as you might imagine, so I’m afraid you’re going to have to listen one of my opinions instead.

I was listening to the radio the other day, and the deejay put on the original piano version of Mussourgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. It was awesome, of course, because it’s frickin’ Pictures at an Exhibition, but somehow it wasn’t quite the same without the orchestration. I found this especially true during the last movement, the “Gates of Kiev” bit, which has such a sweeping grandiosity in the Ravel orchestration that I found lacking on only a piano.

Which is not to say the piano is inherently inexpressive! Please don’t hurt me! If you want to talk about heartbreak, we can talk about Beethoven’s piano sonatas! All I’m saying here is that I find Ravel’s orchestrated version superior. And it’s not because Ravel (and Rimsky-Korsakov, etc.) is (are) so much better than Mussourgsky that their orchestrations elevate his music (I might even tentatively say the opposite, but let’s not throw another argument out just now). I feel the same way about Gershwin’s orchestrated Rhapsody in Blue over the piano version, for example. The piano version of Petrouchka comes close, but it still can’t edge out the full orchestration if you ask me.

So… what do you think? Am I a horrifically biased strings musician? Is it because the pieces in question have an expansive quality that the piano doesn’t quite capture alone? Am I not listening to the right recordings? Am I just plain insane? Educate me!

Here be dragons

I know, I know, I know. I promised you your first gift guide post on Friday and failed to deliver. I’m trying to collect everything in one convenient list and it’s being more annoying than I anticipated. That, and I’ve been busy. That, and I LOVE DRAGON AGE. Here, learn all about its music!

Two things about this jump out at me: one, composing this soundtrack seems to have been a lot like composing an opera, with the themes and motifs that correspond to particular places and characters. Two, “A scene would go from flat or comic to really engaging me.” Power of music in a nutshell, y/y?

This is what fascinates me about soundtracks as a subgenre; if you could hook me up with such a composer for an interview, please let me know.

Not practicing makes you more flammable

Q. It is established fact that the viola burns longer than a violin, but do you know why?

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You can laugh out loud on Wednesdays, too

Okay guys, switching it up a bit this week. Instead of a Friday LOL, you’re getting a Hump Day LOL, because I want to start this year’s holiday gift guide this week but it’s not ready yet. I could’ve diverted the Thursday Viola Joke, but that just seemed wrong somehow. So you’re going to laugh today and shop on Friday, cool?

Oh, quit your whining. This guy’s fine with it:

Objects With Faces-I Inspired the Blues Brothers. Did You Know That?
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A silly goose

This week’s BSO concert features Prokofiev’s first violin concerto and Shostakovich’s tenth symphony. I could wax lyrical about how frickin’ AWESOME they both are, but I’ve done that so many times by now that I’m sure you’re quite bored with it. So instead I decide to do a little digging on the subject of the other piece the BSO will play: Ravel’s Ma mere le oye (Mother Goose) Suite.

From Favorite Classical Composers:

Ravel first wrote the Mother Goose Suite in 1908 for two children whose parents he was friends with, in a four-hand suite for solo piano.

The children, Mimi and Jean Godebski, were extremely fond of him since he told them fairytales, some of which he made up on the spot!

How very Lewis Carroll/Alice Liddell of him.

The music is more famous in its orchestrated ballet form, which Ravel augmented for continuity, and includes movements based on multiple stories, including Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, and Beauty and the Beast. Nifty, but the one thing I don’t understand is, why is it called The Mother Goose Suite? Because fairytales live in the realm of nurseries, and that’s where Mother Goose is at home? But for whatever reason I don’t generally associate Mother Goose with fairytales. Maybe it’s just my brain being weird again.

All the same, I like a good fairytale, myself, and if you do too, you can catch Ravel and his buddies Shostakovich and Prokofiev on Saturday, November 20 at 8 pm at Strathmore and on Sunday, November 21 at 3 pm at the Meyerhoff. Gunter Herbig will conduct, and Tianwa Yang is the soloist. See if you can find me a goosefairy.