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September 7, 2020:

THE MUSIC OF THE NIGHT

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, what is it about the criminal neglect of classical composers who happen to be women?  I suppose it’s always been a men’s club, but isn’t it high time to offer appreciation to those neglected women who’ve written incredible music, some of it every bit as good or better than their male counterparts?  I think so and if I think so then it’s so, so there.  As with most music I like, I’m especially fond of the female composers of the early to mid-twentieth century, although I must say there’s a group of newer female composers now who’ve embraced to tonal world and I’ve enjoyed quite a few of those.  But I’ve discovered so many wonderful women composers over the past few years from all corners of the world.  I am thinking about this because as I write these here notes I’m listening to two of the most delightful piano concertos you’ll ever hear: Ruth Gipps wrote one of them and I’ve known Ms. Gipps’ music for a few years now and she’s amazing – symphonies, this piano concerto, a wonderful horn concerto – haven’t heard a less than great piece yet.  But it’s this concerto that I keep coming back to.  Heretofore, there’d only been one recording of it and I wasn’t too pleased with the sound or the band, although the soloist was fine.  So, I was happy to note that there’d been another recording and I snapped it up and it’s everything the previous recording wasn’t – beautifully performed, both soloist and band, and both sparkling and delightful in very good sound.  There’s a companion piece by another female named Dora Bright, her piano concerto, written just before the turn of the century – the twentieth century, that is, in 1898.  Well, it’s incredible and very modern in its harmonies and tunes.  I fell instantly in love with it and it shall be getting many plays from the likes of me, and that also goes for Ms. Bright’s Variations for Piano and Orchestra.  A completely winning disc.

And while I’m on the subject of music, I also listened to two more performances of the Verdi Requiem.  The first was Erich Leinsdorf’s from the mid-1960s on RCA in Living Stereo.  It’s fashionable to completely ignore Mr. Leinsdorf, but the people who do are clearly idiots with low foreheads.  They live in their own peculiar world of classical music and their most beloved conductors are usually conductors that have never done it for me.  So, go know.  So, the Leinsdorf is, as I hoped it would be, pretty great.  The complainers complain that it’s very speedy at eighty-one minutes.  I think these people sit and listen with a copy of the score and a metronome, whereas I tend to listen with this thing I have called ears.  I found it to be a wonderfully performed and played affair, and of all the Requiems I’ve heard, this one has the clearest and cleanest sound – wonderfully engineered.  The singers are great, and I can find no problem whatsoever with Mr. Leinsdorf’s approach.  The filler pieces on the Leinsdorf are incredible, too: Menotti’s The Death of the Bishop of Brandisi and two Schoenberg pieces, all tops in great sound.

The other version was by Fritz Reiner, and of course the complainers say THAT one is too slow at eighty-nine minutes.  You can’t win with these people, really.  This was not a Reiner on RCA recording, this was done for Decca in 1960, and while the sound is mostly excellent, the Requiem is a nightmare for engineers because of the dynamics, from hushed triple pianissimos to thunderingly loud climaxes, so this one has a tiny bit of distortion on the loudest bits, something the Leinsdorf doesn’t.  It never “seems” slow and Reiner was one of the greats.  I will listen to the Giuliani, which, according to these low forehead types is the go-to, but I’ve never really liked Giuliani – in fact, if I like his Requiem it will be the first thing I’ve ever liked by him.  So, of all I’ve heard, and discounting the Toscanini, whose sound I simply cannot abide, I will always have a soft spot for the Barbirolli, which everyone finds “perverse” – don’t know why.  The sound isn’t quite great, but that’s how I first heard the piece and first times are usually special in one way or another.  I rank the Leinsdorf best, followed by the Ormandy, and then the Reiner.  Some seem to really like Leonard Bernstein’s version with the LSO.  Perhaps I’ll try that one at some point.  And there we have the music of the night.

Yesterday went rather quickly due to getting ten hours of sleep and not arising until one-thirty.  Amazing how fast the days go when you get up at one-thirty.  Almost immediately, I had to dive in to some Kritzerland show work, which I wasn’t quite ready for but got done within thirty minutes.  Then I went to the mail place – it was, at that point, 111 degrees outside.  I turned on the air in the car but it just blew really warm air for the entirety of the drive over, so I just shut it off – very annoying.  Since I rarely use it, I’d expect the damn thing to work properly, is what I’d expect.  I picked up the two small packages that were there, then came right home.  Thankfully, I’d turned on the house air conditioning prior to leaving so when I got back it was already cooling down from the 83 degrees it had been.  I had to leave said air conditioning on for a long time, but by nine-thirty it had cooled down to 75 so I shut it off and of course it immediately went back up to 78, as per usual.

Then I made my two cheeseburgers – My Two Cheeseburgers – that’s the title of my next novel – this time with mustard and ketchup – both were excellent and cooked just the way I like ‘em.  Then I listened to music and relaxed a bit – got throught the two Requiems.  After that, I spent two hours with the Kritzerland show, figuring out how long it was possibly going to run, although we won’t know the exact length until we actually air.  I think we’re going to come in around an hour and forty minutes, longer than usual, but this is a really jam-packed show and our opening number alone is a little over seven minutes long.  I’m beginning to think it might just be a really good show.  At least, that’s the hope.

So, there was no time to finish The Big Heat and I’d rather finish it when The Big Heat is actually finished, as in this horrid hot spell we’re having, which is supposed to abate a bit today into the mid-90s.  At four-thirty yesterday we got to 115 here and in Woodland Hills all records were broken with the temperature of 120.  I’ll say it again: This is not normal.  Then I relaxed and listened to the two piano concertos, which was a lovely way to spend an evening.

Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, I’ll do whatever needs doing, I presume there is no mail, since it’s Labor Day Weekend, I’ve been trying to figure out how to spend my 1000 calories – many options available, including salad, perhaps tacos from Casa Vega – although I suspect all the restaurants I might order from will be VERY crowded with outdoor diners.  I could, I suppose, get a nice top sirloin and broil that here – very calorie friendly that is – but on the other hand, I haven’t brought in food since last Wednesday.  We shall see.  After all that, I’ll finish up The Big Heat and see what else I feel like taking a gander at.  Hoping not to labor on this Labor Day and I’m feeling confident that we’re where we need to be with our big tenth anniversary show. So, an evening that will include watching, listening, and relaxing.

The rest of the week is all Kritzerland show stuff, our one and only Facebook and YouTube Live test, which we hope you dear readers will take a look at, and then we get ready for the big show on Sunday.  We’re all super excited and get more excited and nervous as show day gets closer. And then, let me tell you, I am going to need a couple of ME days.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, do whatever needs doing, eat, finish The Big Heat, and then watch, listen, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite steaks, how do you like them prepared, do you like any sauces on your steak, do you like the way Ruth’s Chris serves steak sizzling in butter?  All things steak and if you’re a vegetarian, what do you eat if you’re trying to have the equivalent of a steak?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have such delightful music of the night from two wonderful female composers.

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