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October 18, 2019:

DISCOVERING A MASTERPIECE

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, this week has flown by, like a gazelle playing the cello whilst eating a Fig Newton.  We are halfway through this month already, for heaven’s sake.  As I write these here notes, I have just finished listening to the sixth symphony of one Aulis Sallinen.  I discovered his music in the 1970s when I was a record collector of everything – and friends who worked at Vogue Records recommended him to me and I thought his music was the berries, one of several wonderful Finnish composers.  But for whatever reason, I’d never picked up any of his stuff on the compact disc format.  Well, my favorite classical label these days, CPO, did a bunch of CDs devoted to Sallinen, and when all the symphonies had been recorded, they put those five CDs into a slipcase and sold them as a set for a very cheap price.  I found a used copy really cheap and snapped it up.  I began listening last night and I found the symphonies were simply wonderful all over again, and remembered virtually nothing about them, so it was like discovering them anew.  I’d already heard the first and seventh, the second and fourth, and the third and fifth – they’re all interesting, tonal but completely unique, with incredible orchestrations and orchestral colors.  Only the fifth was a bit of a more difficult listening experience, but I still enjoyed it a lot and I’m sure subsequent listenings will make it even more pleasurable.

But nothing I heard could have prepared me for the sixth.  To cut to the chase, Sallinen-wise, it’s an absolute masterpiece.  Every movement is completely surprising – you never really know where it’s going – and the music is just so appealing and I was just mesmerized, sitting here like so much fish in musical heaven.  It’s accompanied by an excellent cello concerto.  What a find.  I love when that happens.

Yesterday was a pretty productive day as productive days go.  I got up at eleven after eight hours of needed sleep.  I answered e-mails, and then got ready for a lunch meeting.  I met Adryan Russ at an eatery she loves in the Bank of Bur called Novo Café.  It’s one of these little artisan-type jernts that I don’t like – I’d been once before.  It took me fifteen minutes to find a damn parking place.  I’d looked at the menu online and they had a pasta with a very light pink sauce, so I had that, and it was like penne swimming in a bowl of soup – light indeed, light being the new watery.  It wasn’t horrible and I ate it all up, what there was of it.  We then spent two hours going over the script of the show we’re working on.  We’re not the book writers, but I felt we had to get the story beats sorted out, and find musical ways of getting from scene to scene – things came to me, she wrote them down, and while we didn’t quite get to the end of act one, the book writers should now be able to take these notes and do their work, while we continue with the score, which really doesn’t need all that many more songs.

After that, I went right to the mail place, where I picked up some packages, after which I came home.  I did some work at the piano and the computer, then got a typed version of the notes from the lunch meeting, which weren’t quite right, so I spent time getting them right, and then sent them to the book writers.  I sat on my couch like so much fish for about forty minutes, just relaxing.  I continued with the Sallinen symphonies listening adventure, and then, I went to Gelson’s and got a cube steak for my low-calorie evening snack.  I made that and it was very good.  The pasta, at most, had 500 calories, so I was still under 1000 for the day.  Then, somehow, the evening was over, although I had one telephonic call with Doug Haverty, who is doing fine after his little surgery.

Today, I was right in remembering something was happening, and that something is a lunch at a favorite jernt, which I shan’t name right now.  Friend Marshall Harvey and I are going and will be met by another friend and a good time will be had by all, guaranteed.  Then I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, come home, write liner notes, get them where they need to go, and relax.

Tomorrow, we have our first What If rehearsal, which I’m looking forward to, and which I’m hoping goes smoothly and well.  After, perhaps some of us will grab a bite to eat – we shall wee.  We shall WEE?  See – we shall see.  Well, the W and the S are close to each other.  And funnily, as soon as I wrote we shall wee, I had to go to the bathroom.  Go know.  Sunday will be a day of rest, Monday is our second What If rehearsal, Tuesday is our stumble-through, and Wednesday and Thursday we perform the show.  Then a week later we begin The Man Who Came to Dinner, and I’ll also reveal which shows I’ll be directing next season at the Group Rep – it’s very unusual to have one director do more than one show in a season, but that’s how it worked out – I’ll be doing two and I’m very excited about both.  One is a play, one is a musical.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, lunch at a favorite jernt, although that doesn’t happen until two, hopefully pick up packages, write liner notes, and then relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currenly in your CD player and your DVD/Blu and Ray player?  I’ll start – CD, more Sallinen and then a bunch of other stuff.  Blu-ray, Ace in the Hole.  Your turn.  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have discovered what I consider to be a masterpiece.

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