Friday, February 22, 2013

Schubert Ensemble at the Coleman

I am amazed again and again at how hard chamber music groups work. They play ambitious programs, and when the greedy audiences ask for encores, they comply! I kind of wish they wouldn't, because they've done enough and they've already assembled a musically coherent program. The fine musicians of this group gave us:

  • Martinů—Piano Quartet No. 1, H. 287
  • Mozart—Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478
  • Schumann—Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47
Someone or other at the Julliard School said that playing piano in a piano quartet was more demanding than playing a piano concerto. I agree. Any one of these pieces would have been a feast. All three of them, in one program, on a mild SoCal winter Sunday afternoon, made a transcendent experience. I love watching the play of the eyes as they play together.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A moment in the brief history of hitting someone with a fish

Some of you may remember a post from last year:;postID=1317420141659901448

It discussed the vexing considerations involved in hitting someone with a fish.

It turns out that hitting someone with a fish has a literary history. While Verlaine was living in London with Rimbaud, Rimbaud saw Verlaine walking up the street with their supper, namely, a bottle of olive oil in one hand and a fish in the other. Rimbaud thought Verlaine looked silly, and was immature enough to say so. (I mean, really--the guy leaves his wife and child to be with you, and you mock him when he goes shopping for dinner??) Verlaine was incensed, or at least touchy, and smacked Rimbaud in the face with the fish. I don't know yet what kind of fish, or whether they cooked dinner that night.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

[Reed] Griffin, saved from Pompeii

Lately I've been immersed in an oral history of Reed College, of which I am a proud and grateful graduate. I loved, and love, Reed for the larger world that my time there opened up to me, for the entirely unconscious acquisition of the ability to go to the heart of an argument, and for the great pleasure of being with others who thought it was fun to know things.

Since my time, Reed students have developed the Hum 110 play (pronounced Hume, as in Humanities), a quick and tricky take on the entire year's coverage of 2000 years of Western civilization, starting with the Greeks and moving on through the Middle Ages to fetch up against Dante. Five-unit course, big old deal. Greg Lam, '96, offered:

Shit happens, then your armor clatters thunderously. 
Such was the battle of Hector, breaker of horses.