Brenda Tremblay's blog

A subtly shifting balance

I have always loved Johannes Brahms’s clarinet sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 and was therefore delighted to see pianist Jon Nakamatsu’s name on a new recording of these works with another h-less Jon's, clarinetist Jon Manasse's.

In Sunday’s New York Times, James Oestreich describes the appeal of the Brahms thus: “the clarinet and the piano are thoroughly, sensuously intertwined in a subtly shifting balance.” If you listen, you'll know exactly what he means.

(Scroll down for the full review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/arts/music/13reco.html?_r=...)

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Reading material

[On Debussy’s Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”] “It is music of physical release, even of sexual orgasm, as Vaslav Nijinsky demonstrated in his undulating dance of the Faun at the Ballet Russes in 1912. ‘I hold the queen!’ Mallarme’s faun exults.”
- from The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross

“By [20th] century’s end, intellectuals had deserted classical music; compared to the theater, cinema, or dance, it was the American performing art most divorced from contemporary creativity, most susceptible to midcult decadence.”
- from Classical Music in America by Joseph Horowitz

“Since Jazz music is a laid back genre of music, students will wear jeans with no holes, a solid colored shirt (long or short sleeve) and sneakers will be okay.”

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Let's Imagine

The RPO’s Annual Meeting, Having Been Held in Rochester’s Opulent Eastman Theatre, Later Discussed by The Busts of Bach and Beethoven Over the Exits

Johann: Grüß dich! That brass quintet, sehr gut! Don’t you think, my old friend?

Ludwig: Ja, ja, I almost heard it! I think it was almost as compelling as the players’ rousing performance of The Firebird by the Russian Wild One, Herr Stravinsky. (He pauses, leans over, whispering) But I believe the young man who spoke afterward, Herr Owens, may have a Napoleonic complex. Did you catch all his mumbling about fame and glory, making the RPO famous around the world?

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music news miscellany

This afternoon at 4:00 p.m., the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra reveals artistic and financial data during an annual meeting. Check back for more on this later.

The U.S. government issued a 2007 patent for colored polymer instrument mouthpieces for brass players, and these are starting to pop up in instrument cases all over Western New York. Prices range from $21 for a trumpet mouthpiece to $32 for a tuba mouthpiece.

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The Kite Runner

I walked out of a movie the other night.

The movie was The Kite Runner, based on the book by Khaled Hosseini. My sister invited me to see it with her at the Little, Rochester’s independent movie theatre. She’d read the book: I hadn’t, and I refused to let her talk about it because I wanted to be surprised. I was.

(Spoiler warning: you might wish to stop here if you want to be surprised, too.)

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Heartbreak

When Beth Wilhelm awoke on the morning of Christmas Eve, her husband’s breathing sounded funny. “I tried shaking him awake, but he didn’t respond,” she said. “He was turning gray.”

Panicked, Beth called 9-1-1 and started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Soon, paramedics arrived to take Roger Wilhelm to Strong Memorial hospital.

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Kingdoms

While Mike Huckabee’s emergence as a Republican front runner in the 2008 Presidential race is obviously good news for his supporters, it also pleases some music and arts advocates. Writer Alex Ross has already noted the former Arkansas governor’s professed love for music and his legislation to bolster it in public schools. (Remember Bill Clinton and his saxophone?) While in office, Huckabee signed a law requiring every child in grades one through six to receive at least forty minutes a week of instruction in music and other arts. "In the true spirit of No Child Left Behind," Huckabee explained, "leaving the arts out is beyond neglect and is virtual abuse of a child."

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Organ bench II

On Sunday morning I woke up feeling hollow and unnecessary. I swung my feet onto the floor and stared out the window at the feeble sunlight, the bare trees, and the grass, still matted by leaves I hadn't found time to rake.

I wasn’t a church organist anymore. For four years, I rushed out every Sunday, pulled on a black robe and white cotta, greeted the choir, and perched attentively on the organ bench at a small town Episcopal church. I’d left my post after Christmas Eve, and this past Sunday, for the first time, no one was expecting me to show up.

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Crystal ball

Happy New Year! Our Distinguished Committee on Future Delights presents these cultural events for you to look forward to in 2008:

JANUARY

You don’t even have to leave the house. Tonight (January 2nd) at 8:00 p.m., hear the final broadcast concert from the 2006-2007 season of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Classical 91.5 FM (or streamed at wxxi.org.) Christopher Seaman conducts Pictures at an Exhibition.

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New Year

When I started blogging in October, I did it for my own pleasure. I saw it as an absorbing way to think out loud about classical music, flex my writing muscles, and pass on information that isn’t exactly newsworthy, but worth something. I really like doing it, and hope you like reading it.

Even though I set out to write for myself, I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the number of readers drawn to each post. I can see this number, which most can’t, and you might be surprised by what’s attracted the most attention.

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