Eroica Trio and the Greenberg Concerto

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So last week I was playing with East Texas Symphony again, and we played Brahms Symphony No.1, some Copland overture that I didn’t care for too much, and a concerto for piano trio and orchestra by a young composer named Jay Greenberg. The concerto was nice, and Eroica Trio played with us for it. They played really well, of course, although this piece isn’t really the best metric for judging how good a piano trio is.

So during the first rehearsal with them, I was looking at the violinist and thinking, “Who is this girl? She looks so familiar but I’m not sure where from.” I’m not overly familiar with Eroica Trio, and I don’t yet own any recordings of them, so I knew I didn’t recognize her just from that. I obviously had met her somewhere. Well, later I found out that it was Susie Park who I had known when I was at Encore, a summer music festival one summer. I didn’t recognize her at first because she cut her hair short now, and I’m used to it being very long. So I figured she wouldn’t remember me, because she’s all famous and shit now. So after the second rehearsal I go up to her and I say, “Hey Susie.. you probably don’t remember me but…” and she just yells, “CODY!”

She also knew two others in the orchestra, Andrew and Ordabek. So after the concert we went to the reception and drank a lot of wine and hung out. Then after that we went to some local bar in Tyler to drink some more. Apparently some of the people in the bar had gone to the concert, because we walk in and they see Susie and treated us like fucking rockstars. It was pretty cool. :)

I wish I had my camera with me, but I didn’t expect to know one of the soloists.

Austin City Limits

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I just got back from Austin City Limits Festival, and it was really awesome! I couldn’t make it on Saturday because of Plano Symphony, but it ended up working out in my favor anyway. The main reason to go Saturday would have been for The White Stripes, but they ended up bailing because Meg got sick or something. So I met my friend Gerry in Austin on Sunday morning and we stayed all day. Donna said Sunday was the best day overall.

We heard The National, and they were pretty good. Then we went over to hear STS9 and they were cool. They seem to be all instrumental electronic, which was cool. They also seem to attract all the crazy Xers who were clearly enjoying the show with some additional chemical assistance. Then we went to hear Ben Kweller, but it was really boring so we stopped by Robert Earl Keen for a few minutes but were not into it either, so we took a break to get water and rest for a bit. Then headed over to hear Common. I’m not really into hip-hop at all, but it was still a pretty fun show. Then it was off to hear Bloc Party. They were definitely the best show up to this point. They sounded really good, even though they kind of apologized a couple times and mentioned how they were not really used to the heat of Texas. It was only around 90F, but as they said they’re used to a cold rainy island. :) Apparently last year it got up to around 108F! Bloc Party sounded really, really close to their CDs I thought. After they finished we tried to see Regina Spektor, but it was too hard to hear her. She was just singing with piano, and her music was too soft and at the nearest other stage was a band called Rose Hill Drive, and they were very loud and seemed to drown out Regina Spektor from where we were standing. But the crowd around Regina Spektor’s stage was enormous.

So we took a really long break at this point and skipped the next concert block so we’d be well-rested and ready for The Decemberists. I’m really glad we did, too, because it was a fantastic show. We got a really good place kind of near the front and could see really well. Looking out behind us there were obviously tens of thousands of people there. Donna said she couldn’t get anywhere near the Decemberists stage, she and her friends were stuck way off to the right. But the show was incredible, and was very easily the best show of the day. The audience was really into it; you can tell the Decemberists are really loved in Austin. In fact before we went to ACL we stopped for lunch at Hula Hut for lunch and we heard them play a Decemberists song. That was pretty cool. I never hear good music anywhere around Dallas it seems.

The day ended with Bob Dylan, so we stayed to hear him play a couple songs. But he was just so unbelievably terrible that we left almost immediately. He really sounded like he could barely sing. I’m not really sure what happened to his voice.

Bipolar Viola

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Michael Fernandez pointed out that bipolaroptions.com features the prelude to Bach’s first cello suite being played on viola on their stupid little Flash intro. Michael didn’t find it very amusing and seemed to not like using the viola this way, but for some reason I can’t identify.. I just think it’s hilarious. It has that serious tone that you expect from a commercial about some kind of health problem, but something about it having a viola playing this piece kind of negates the effect to me. It’s kind of like when Paganini has these really tragic sounding parts of his music, like the second variation in the Grand Sonata where it goes into c minor. It gets this very serious, tragic type of feeling to it.. but you can’t help but realize that you’re still listening to Paganini, so it ends up being funny. Then you get to about the last bar and a half before the third variation and it really milks it with the fermata, then you hit the third variation in the most absolutely ridiculous way imaginable. Of course, this commercial doesn’t have a punchline like that.. but I still feel the same type of humor throughout this commercial that I feel during the second variation of that Paganini sonata.

And of course I know everyone reading this knows every bar of the Paganini Grand Sonata by memory, right? Right? Of course.

Rostropovich

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The New York Times is reporting the loss of Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the great musicians of the past century. He’s one of the greatest cellists of all time and will be missed.

Martinu Rhapsody-Concerto

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Last week we played the Martinu Rhapsody-Concerto for viola and
orchestra, and our principal violist Ute Miller played the solo part.
She’s always a great musician, and so of course she was fantastic. I
wasn’t very familiar with this piece before, but now I’m sort of unsure
about it. It’s really beautiful, but the ending of the piece is very
strange and just doesn’t make sense to me. There’s a snare drum that
plays with the viola solo and it sounds really out of place. The rest
of the orchestra is holding some long chord, I think an F chord or
something, and then for some reason we play a beat of repeated 32nd
notes on that chord. It’s just weird and out of place to my ears.

Viola concertos

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Before I went to El Paso I had the opportunity to hear Paul Silverthorne, principal violist of London Symphony Orchestra, play the Walton viola concerto here. It was a really fantastic performance, and I feel like I understand the concerto better than before. It’s still not my favorite viola concerto, but I do have a new appreciation for it.

Me and Paul Silverthorne

I just learned today that Roberto Diaz is coming back here to play the Bartok viola concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony in October. I can’t wait!

El Paso

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I went to El Paso last week to see Lesley and to play in the orchestra there. She’s running the El Paso Youth Orchestras along with Ben Loeb, a conductor we went to school with in Baltimore. He is also the associate conductor for the El Paso Symphony, and they had a side-by-side of the symphony and the youth orchestra together with Ben conducting. The symphony played The Three Cornered Hat suite by Manuel de Falla, the flute concerto by Jacques Ibert, Ravel’s La Valse, then the youth orchestra played Marquez’s Danzon No. 2, and then the symphony and youth orchestra did Bernstein’s West Side Story symphonic dances together.

Ben and Lesley have been working really hard with the youth orchestras and the symphony, and it sounds like things are going really well there.

Me and Lesley from this morning

Ben and his wife last night when we went out for Italian food

Verdi Quartet

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I’ve been listening to my awesome new CD of the Hagen Quartett (my favorite string quartet these days) playing the Verdi String Quartet. It’s a fantastic recording, I’m glad to have found it. It was discovered on Amazon, being sold by some seller in Germany.. however, that seller wouldn’t ship the disc outside of Germany! But Mirco Müller was kind enough to let me send it to him and he shipped it to me.

Hagen Quartett disc

Thanks Mirco!

Icky Thump

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Very cool news from the White Stripes today. They’ve finished recording and mixing their sixth album, which will be called “Icky Thump”. Okay, whatever. But I’m excited because the White Stripes are completely awesome. More info about the album.. some of the songs are:

  • Catch Hell Blues
  • Little Cream Soda
  • Monkeys Have It Easy (discarded)
  • Rag and Bone
  • Clicky Bump (retitled into something pleasant)
  • Blue Orchid (relocated to previous album)
  • You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)

Philip’s recital

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On Wednesday I went to the university to hear a cello recital by Philip von Mahltzahn, who was a friend of mine back in high school when we played in a string trio together. It was a cool recital, with a Boccherini sonata, George Crumb sonata, sonata by György Ligeti, Astor Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango, and what cellist could do a recital without a Bach suite.. so Philip did the third one. It was cool to meet him again after the recital and say “hi”. Philip plays in the Degas Quartet now. I hope I get a chance to hear them sometime.

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