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.

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!

Benefit Recital

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Last night I played in a benefit recital for Valentina Mengjesi, an Albanian woman who lives around here and who has breast cancer but not much money to pay for the medical expenses. I have never met her, but she is a friend of some friends of mine, Amela Koci (who is a very close friend) and Tonda Sykes.

The concert went well. It consisted of the Corelli Christmas Concerto, Beethoven Op. 18/6 string quartet in B-flat, Vaughan Williams Rhosymedre, Mozart Horn Quintet K.407, and Saent-Saens Romance in F. Brian Brown played horn, Arthur Busby and Amela Koci played violins, Paul Palmer and I played viola, and Amirosh Issa was the cellist. At the end Amela’s husband Gjergji joined Brian for a horn duo, but I forgot the name of the composer.

Raconteurs CDs

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So, as I last reported I had ordered some live CDs of the Raconteurs from some of their live shows in the UK but the package was open and empty when it arrived. So I talked to the company, Concert Live, about it and they were kind enough to send me a replacement set. I just received that today, and I’m very happy.

Music and stuff

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I got a DVD a couple weeks ago of Alexander Markov performing the Paganini 24 caprices for solo violin. I saw this years ago on a bootleg VHS when I was at Peabody, and I blogged about it on Advogato. Apparently there were a number of people who wanted to see it, because I had four or five different people email me since that time asking me how to get the video. Some offered to pay me to make them a copy of the bootleg of the video, but it wasn’t mine.

I watched the whole thing, and it’s the same one that I saw back then. It’s sort of cheesily done, and it looks like the director/editor got some video editing software and wanted to try all the goofy effects out. It’s like when you open GIMP for the first time and you think it’s a good idea to try to use all the pre-built effects or something. So, the DVD is pretty funny to watch because it’s so bad. But Markov’s playing is very good, and it’s nice to see (when you can actually see.. there’s a whole section where they thought it would be a good idea to just shoot his shadow) and hear.

I got my Aluminium CD in the mail. It’s sort of an orchestral arrangement (supposedly avant garde, not not really in my opinion) of White Stripes music, which sounds sort of dumb but ended up working pretty well. At least, better than any other orchestral version of rock music I’ve ever heard. I think they tend to have more tunes than the bands that I have previously heard orchestral arrangements of.

I also ordered a set of CDs of live concerts of The Raconteurs from their UK shows, and I was really looking forward to getting those. Well, it turns out that the package was really poorly sealed or something because it opened up during transit and all the CDs spilled out of it and an empty package was delivered to me. I’m really sort of pissed about that. I contacted the company that sent it, hoping they’ll send me
another set. I feel like it is sort of their fault for not packaging it very well. I’m not really sure how else to deal with this right now, but I noticed that the shipment was insured.. although not for as much as I paid for it, so that is a little worrying.

Quartet

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So, we ended up not reading Faure or Schumann or Mahler today. Instead we did the second movement of the Dvorak quartet that I don’t love that much. We’re going to meet on Saturday to read through the new music instead. I can’t wait! I’m very excited about it.

Peanuts

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I got this from Lesley today. Maybe this is why I’m not married yet. :)

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