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July 19, 2017:

MAHLERMALLOWS

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, you’ve heard of marshmallows, I presume? Well, since I am off sweets for at least a month, perhaps more, I cannot eat such a thing as a marshmallow, nor do I even like the look of that word, nor its spelling of mallow rather than the way I’ve always heard it pronounced as mellow. Of course there is nothing mellow about a marshmallow, nor does it really have anything to do with a marsh. Frankly, I don’t even know what the HELL a marshmallow is. It’s a weird, white chewy thing that’s very irritating to try to ingest, if you ask me. I’ve never liked the damn things. What the HELL am I talking about? Oh, yes, I’m not eating marshmallows since I am off sweets, not that I would eat them anyway. I can’t remember the last time I had a damn marshmallow. So, instead I am having Mahlermallows – yes a piece of Mahlermallow is what I’m having. I’m back on a Mahler kick simply because his symphonies are, for me, perhaps the finest set of symphonies ever written and I don’t give a mallow for Mozart or a beet for Beethoven. I leave those boys to others. But Mahler’s music speaks to me. For example, Mahler’s music just spoke to me, which was, in fact, quite unnerving – you don’t usually expect music to open its trap and say, “Hey, you, old Jewish person, why are you listening to this?” As you know from my previous Mahler pontificating, the remastering of the first Bernstein cycle is excellent and I mostly love that entire set and it sounds amazing. That said, Mr. Bernstein wears his angst, emotionalism, and sturm und drang on his sleeve – it’s his approach and as I said I really like almost the entire set. Back in days of old I went through a lot of various conductors doing the various symphonies, and most weren’t much to my liking.

But all these years later I’m just fascinated and even a little obsessed by the different performances of this music. And of course if you go on Amazon and search the complete box sets, there is not a one you will find with twenty people screaming that THIS is the one, the desert island disc, the ONLY one you need. So it gets confusing, although I’m willing to take chances occasionally. So, lately I’ve been hearing various performances of certain symphonies but not a whole set. I enjoyed the Karel Ancerl performance of the ninth very much, and I really liked Bruno Walter’s second and ninth, both really kind of amazing. But because I’ve grown to really love the conductor Rafael Kubelik who finally made those damn Brahms symphonies make sense to me, that I decided to do his box set of all the symphonies. The set has gotten some rave reviews, along with the usual pedants who think they know everything then go on to rave about all the conductors I can’t stand. But the general consensus was and is that Kubelik brings out a more lyrical Mahler, with none of the overemotionality that so many conductors bring to this music. One of the reasons I had such fun listening to the Kirill Kondrashin set on Melodiya was because the interpretations were just so weird and interesting and completely different.

And so, I’ve been going through the Kubelik set and he does indeed bring incredible musicality to each symphony and finds a gentler path even with the more dramatic symphonies. But it’s never at the expense of the music’s shape or point – it’s a very valid and pleasing approach and makes for easier listening. I especially liked his first symphony and I judge all conductors with what they do with the sixth, my personal favorite. It’s not perfect here, but it’s pretty great and right up there with my favorites. But his seventh is utterly magical. Two more to go. And one for Mahlermallows.

Yesterday was that kind of day. I slept almost eight hours but not quite. I answered e-mails, had telephonic conversations, went and had another chicken Caesar salad this time with a few onion rings, just for fun. It was all excellent. Then I picked up a couple of packages, then came back home. Once home, I began listening to the Mahler recordings whilst trying to make a show order. I finally got one I think will work – may futz with it a bit more, but it’s close enough where I could begin writing the commentary, which I did. I really wanted to finish it, but only got halfway through it because there are so many put-togethers in this show – because the Mancini songs are very traditional short songs, I paired a lot of them so we could have as many as possible. But that doubles the research and writing because I have to have history and anecdotes (both interesting and funny), so my eyes just grew weary at the halfway point and I had to stop.

I also had a brief meeting with one of the LACC folks who’ll be doing Levi, an Asian actor who it’s been difficult to connect with. I think all will be fine now. Then I spent the last hours of the evening eating about three ounces of spaghetti with some butter and cheese on it, since I was hungry.

Today, I’m going to an event honoring Grant Geissman – he’ll talk and play, so that will be fun, and there’s lunch served, although I will only eat something calorie friendly and light, like chicken or a salad. After that, I believe my second batch of Freshly meals will arrive, and I’ll start those tomorrow, two a day through Saturday, with no other food intake. Then I’ll try to finish the commentary.

The rest of the week is meetings and meals, resuming performances of Dial ‘M’ for Murder – I’ll probably see it on Friday night, since I’ll know a bunch of people who are going. Not sure what the weekend holds or whether I have any shows to see.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, go to a luncheon event, I must hopefully pick up some packages including my new batch of Freshly meals, I must try to finish the commentary and I must relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like. So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy, as always, to be hearing Mahlermallows rather than eating marshmallows.

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