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Ax and answer

I feel like I should have been able to have come up with a better pun. Hmmm.

Oh well. Soldiering on. This week’s BSO concert is “Emanuel Ax,” with Emanuel Ax in the titular role. I’m assuming he’ll be playing the Brahms first piano concerto, because Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra guides past the piano and I haven’t a bloody clue what this “new work” by this “Osvaldo Golijov” is about. Perhaps he’ll chime in and tell us? It’s happened before.

Golijov has a Wikipedia page, anyway — that means you’re big,y’know. It says he’s Argentinean of Russian extraction, so… Piazzolla meets Prokofiev? It’s certainly alliterative. I’m intrigued!

But then I probably had you at Emanuel Ax. Go Thursday, June 2 at 8 pm at Strathmore (free pre-concert lecture!), or at the Meyerhoff on Friday, June 3 at 8 pm, Saturday, June 4 at 8 pm, and Sunday, June 5 at 3 pm.

“Live and constantly changing, like a concert or ballet”

Hey! Remember when I said I wanted to talk about Fantasia periodically? Like, a year and a half ago or something? Let’s do it! Take it away, David Koenig, in your awesome, I-once-read-this-instead-of-playing-in-an-arcade book, Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation and Theme Parks.

As his excitement for the project grew, Walt [Disney] wanted to issue a partially new Fantasia each year, every few months replacing an old number with a newly animated one. That way, people would look at it not so much as music frozen on film, but as live and constantly changing, like a concert or ballet. They would have to ask not only where and when Fantasia was playing, but what Fantasia was playing.

Disney got as far as animating one whole sequence for inclusion in a future Fantasia, set to the tranquil “Clair de Lune.” Six years later, the animation was set to “Blue Bayou” and inserted in Make Mine Music, along with another previously scrapped idea, “Peter and the Wolf.” “Flight of the Bumble Bee” was finally used as a swing version, “Bumble Boogie,” in Melody Time.

I already gave you Peter, and I’m saving “Bumble Boogie” for a rainy day. Here’s “Clair de Lune.” Enjoy your Memorial Day!

Cuteness speaks louder than captions

cute puppy pictures-Cyoot Puppeh ob teh Day: Can iz sing alon wif u?
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The animal instincts of violists

The principal violist of the local symphony orchestra called the local chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to report his neighbor for abusing an octopus. PETA sent out representatives immediately since this was obviously going to be a major news event. The news crew simply turned off the camera and left when

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Youthful bias and Sibelius

This week’s BSO concert is entitled “Gomyo Plays Sibelius,” on account of because violinist Karen Gomyo will play the Sibelius violin concerto. To which I say: sigh.

I may have told this story already, but way back in eight grade my middle school county orchestra took a field trip to see a BSO concert wherein no less a luminary as Pinchas Zukerman played the Sibelius violin concerto. He did it beautifully — for a very very very very long time, with stops to retune. Boy did my mind wander. Why is it part of standard soloist repertory again? (I’m sure someone well tell me, in chastising tones. Stay tuned.)

In fairness, I was a mere eighth grader at the time. I may have even still counted Beethoven’s sixth symphony as my favorite, and I now know that the seventh is clearly superior. Tastes change. You should probably make up your own mind, and you can do so on Friday, May 27 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff or Saturday, May 28 at 8 pm at Strathmore.

Carlos Kalmar will conduct, and the program also includes Mahler’s What the Wild Flowers Tell Me (arr. by Britten, Bek!) and Walton’s first symphony. And then you can take a nice nap during the Sibelius, no?

Don’t forget — the Decorators’ Show House closes at the end of May. There are fancy things to buy, people.

Composer Cagematch!: Rachmaninoff vs. Tchaikovsky

Schumann vs. Brahms was easily the weirdest Composer Cagematch! we’ve had yet.

I put up the Cagematch, and it was coming in all Brahms. Brahms, Brahms, Brahms, with nary a vote for Schumann for the longest time. And even then it was stuck at 14-2 in favor of Brahms for a seeming millenium. I had people in the comments accusing me of setting up a faultily weighted match.

Then a week later I posted about the upcoming BSO concert for that week, which highlighted Schumann. I playfully pointed out that this probably wouldn’t interest the average Ain’t Barocco if the voting was any indication. Somehow (and I think a pro-Schumann tweet from Kenneth Woods may have been related) this must have tapped into the previously silent Schumann-loving hordes, because the votes for Schumann began rushing in. This kicked off several days worth of flux, with the two composers tied on at least two occasions. Brahms did ultimately prevail 36-31, but my God, hats off to Schumann for being one hell of a late-closing competitor, no?

So there you have it: Brahms is the winner, Schumann the loser (or, putting it another way, you would rather have sex with Jesse Spencer over David Bamber, but you would have to think about it first). Whew. Next!

Doubtless Germany is tired after all this to-do, so let’s let it recover while we had over to that other classical music powerhouse, Russia. Prepare yourself for a schmoopy day — it’s a battle of some serious romantics.

In this corner, annoying the hell out of my mother, it’s

SEEEEEEEEEEERGEEEEEEEEEI RACHMAAAAAAAANINOFFFFFFFFFFF

And in this corner, annoying the hell out of my college music history professor, it’s

PIOTR! ILYICH! TCHAAAAAAAAAIIIIKOOOOOOOVSKYYYYYYYY

Okay. Okay. I can’t make this too negative. I can’t sway the votes. These are some darned big names; you can figure it out yourselves, no?

The musical geek

I have been accused of being the nerdiest person around, with extra points added for being a nerdy girl. Some people might choose to respond by playing against type. I myself prefer to declare my unabashed and unashamed love for Star Trek: Voyager and post this clip. Fly your freak flag high!

You just can’t overcome a lack of natural talent

funny dog pictures-Iz too bad... mai hoomin studies moosic for yeers, but she *still* can't carry a reel gud howl.
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Don’t forget to come to Pinocchio!

How-To: Syncing Your Violas

Many thanks to Michael Monroe for sharing this helpful guide.

I’ve got no strings to hold me down

Okay, let’s say you’re a joyless curmudgeon and Rodgers and Hammerstein just isn’t your thing. Looks like your entire weekend is free. Do you mind if I suggest an alternative? An alternative I’m in? An original ballet version of Pinocchio? At the Publick Playhouse in Cheverly, Maryland? Two showings at 3:30 and 7:30 pm? Tickets max out at like twelve bucks a pop? Here’s the Facebook event? I’m a marionette? Twice? (I demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty.)

Whether you can come or not, I’ve dreamed up a little exercise for you. Below you will find two lists. One represents a very small selection of scenes from the Ballet Academy‘s production of Pinocchio. The other lists all the corresponding music for the show. The music has been shuffled, and it is YOUR job to figure out which piece goes with which scene. I’ve provide YouTube links for the music to help. I’ll set aside two tickets to the showing of your choice if you can match them all. Not that I think anyone’ll take me up on it, but the offer stands!

Regardless, I’m challenging your ability to feel the music — can you tell what each piece has been matched to represent? GO!

The Scenes

  1. Pinocchio has a run-in with the police
  2. Stromboli’s puppet show: Tux and Gown
  3. Stromboli’s puppet show: Strongman
  4. Stromboli’s puppet show: White Corps ballerinas
  5. Pleasure Island: The donkey boys are put through their paces

The Music

  1. “Marionettes” from Scenes de ballet, by Glazunov
  2. Overture to Fra Diavolo, by Meyerbeer
  3. Armen’s Variation, by Khachaturian
  4. “Schottische” from Souvenirs, by Barber
  5. Poupee Valsante, by Kreisler & Rupp

See, there are only five! It’ll be easy! Just remember: always let your conscience be your guide.