Tag Archives: Curt Barnes

Guest Post: Curt Barnes on the Bach Cello Suites, African Masks, and Collective Genius

Ngil Society mask from the Fang people, Gabon

Ngil Society mask from the Fang people, Gabon

If you are moved by Mischa Maisky’s or Anner Bylsma’s versions of the Bach cello suites, does it matter that they’re not the way Bach heard them? I like Baroque cellists’ interpretations of the Bach suites, which may be closer to his intentions, but I absolutely wouldn’t be without modern interpretation. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin are another example: they are available in Baroque renditions, but my favorites are played with more vibrato and expression, in a post-Romantic style. And the Goldberg Variations? Like many I prefer them played on an instrument Bach never heard, the modern piano, with nuance not available to him, and I would bridle at these versions being called “illegitimate.” Seeking to justify my bias, I came to my own conclusions about it after connecting it to Robert Goldwater’s theory of African masks. Continue reading

Contemporaneous Turns Five with a Flourish: Curt Barnes and Prufrock Report

David Bloom conducts Contemporaneous at DiMenna © 2015 Dominica Eriksen. Used with kind permission.

David Bloom conducts Contemporaneous at DiMenna © 2015 Dominica Eriksen. Used with kind permission.

On March 7, 2015, Contemporaneous reached a new milestone: the ensemble turned five years old, and it did so with a flourish. Curt Barnes and Prufrock report: Continue reading

Guest Post: Why Beethoven Is Not Enough, by Curt Barnes

Copper Multiphase 2 (acrylic on laminated birch) © Curt Barnes, 2002. With kind permission.

Copper Multiphase 2 (acrylic on laminated birch) © Curt Barnes, 2002. With kind permission.

. . . my own involvement in the art world has helped me find connections with music, not so much in content as in a preparatory attitude.
—Curt Barnes

Having encountered our remarkable host here in an online music course and continuing some very interesting conversations thereafter at the Great Composers Appreciation Society,  it was inevitable that I’d become a regular visitor to her blog. When she asked if I’d be interested in contributing something here, I said yes, without thinking exactly what. As a professional artist I’ve had a longstanding interest in music but no expertise in the subject whatever; I can’t read it or play any sort of instrument, just love listening. It occurred to me that my own involvement in the art world has helped me find connections with music, not so much in content as in a preparatory attitude. A familiarity with music history is indispensable, certainly, but sometimes even more important is working through irrelevant assumptions and fostering an elasticity of mind to access the new and often difficult. Here, then, are some thoughts on how to approach new music. Maybe some of you will make additions to the list in the comments, or critique what I provide. I’ve numbered the items to give the illusion of order. Continue reading

My Year in Music, 2014

Contemporaneous "Living Toys" Concert at Roulette (David Bloom conducting)

Contemporaneous “Living Toys” Concert at Roulette (David Bloom conducting)

I’ve had a particularly memorable “year in music” this year. While I’ve listed a “Prufrock’s Dozen” of CDs, this year-end post isn’t a “best of” list in the usual sense, but rather an opportunity to gather together the “best of” my musical experiences throughout the year. The post is divided into three sections: A “Prufrock’s Dozen” of CDs, Live Performances, and Other Significant Music-Related Activities. Continue reading