Tag Archives: Great Composers Appreciation Society

Of Cabbages and Kings


So much has passed through my mind this morning
That I can give you but a dim account of it
—John Ashbery, The Skaters

These lines from John Ashbery’s The Skaters are among my favorites, for good reason. I keep thinking to write about something among my several ongoing projects, when next I know, I’m on to something else. So, I’m afraid, this is a bit of a miscellany, likely of no interest to anyone but me, but an attempt, at least, to record some of the “dim account” before even that is lost. Continue reading

Three Pieces by Poulenc

Poulenc in Paris

Poulenc in Paris

If I no longer send you my music it is because I simply do not think it would interest you any more.
—Poulenc to Igor Stravinsky, Letter 343 (1962)

I used to listen to composer Francis Poulenc’s Gloria and Stabat Mater so much that I wore them out. From time to time, I’ve thought to add some pieces to my Poulenc listening repertoire, but I never got very far. I did, however, read Echo and Source, Selected Correspondence 1915-1963, on a prompt from David Nice: Continue reading

Autumn Walks at Innisfree Garden

8 IMG_0044_edited-1The photographs were taken on walks at Innisfree Garden, October 7 and 11, 2015. I’ll be offline more than on for several days. I look forward to hearing from anyone who happens by, though I may be delayed in responding to comments. Continue reading

“Less Is More” with Telemann, Debussy, Kodály, Anzoletti, Prokofiev, Berio, and . . .

1IMG_6714_edited-1The Great Composers Appreciation Society has been listening to music on the theme of “Less Is More” this month (4/15-5/14/15). The main selections for the month, chosen with typical perspicacity by our helmsman, Brian Long, include:

J. S Bach: Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 (1720?)  (More information here.)

Joseph Haydn: Symphony No.45 in F-sharp minor, Hob.I:45 (“Farewell”) (1772)  (More information here.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Duo for violin & viola No. 1 in G major, K. 423 (1783) (More information here.)

Claude Debussy: Syrinx (1913) (See below for more information.)

Edgar Varèse: Density 21.5 (1936, rev. 1946)  (More information here.)

Anton Webern: 5 pieces for orchestra op. 10 (1913)  (More information here.)

Benjamin Britten: Cello Suite No. 3, op. 87 (1971)  (More information here.)

Luciano Berio: Sequenzas 3 (for voice, 1965) and 5 (for trombone, 1966) (See below for more information.) Continue reading

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