Recent comments

  • A subtly shifting balance   9 years 40 weeks ago


    There is a letter Brahms wrote to the famed clarinetist Richard Muehlfeld, for whom he wrote the sonatas, imploring him to please join him for an upcoming performance. "Otherwise," Brahms wrote, "I shall be forced to ask a violist."

    In all seriousness, Brahms surely conceived of these as primarily as clarinet sonatas, and he produced the viola transcriptions (as he did also for the clarinet trio and clarinet quinete) in part because of the tradition of publishing all clarinet works with a viola or violin alternative (as Mozart, Beethoven, and others did for their clarinet chamber works) to increase sales. Of course, as a violist, I'm thrilled to have Brahms' blessing to play these works, but he himself considered the transcription to be "awkward and clumsy," so I do my best to tread lightly, with due reverence, and certainly to avoid "scraping!"


    Edward Klorman
    Executive Director and Co-Artistic director
    Canandaigua Lake Chamber Music Festival

  • A subtly shifting balance   9 years 40 weeks ago

    Hi, Carl,

    I, too, love the Gervase de Peyer recording with Barenboim on EMI.

    Violinist Ilya Kahler, former concertmaster of the RPO, recorded these for Naxos a few years ago, and when I listened to his interpretation, it didn't really move me. The clarinet is more like the breathy, reedy sound of the human voice and better suited, I think, to expressing the rhapsodic and lyrical lines in the Brahms. I vote "blown."


  • A subtly shifting balance   9 years 40 weeks ago

    You have a choice with these sonatas between air pressure and friction, because Brahms published the Op 120 sonatas simultaneously for clarinet and viola. And, later, for violin! The viola version is the most often recorded of the alternates. I have a definite opinion about which is best - whichever version I'm listening to at the moment.

    There are a few textual differences between the versions, but I wonder if Brahms would have given more notes to the viola if he'd been writing primarily for that instrument. The long-held pitches that come comparatively easy to the clarinet must be a technical challenge for the violist, who has to maintain a tone and then must follow those sudden shifts without any apparent effort or break in the expressive line.

    To my layman's ear, that is achieved beautifully by Barbara Westphal in her recording on Bridge Records. I also love the old record by clarinetist Gervase de Peyer, with Barenboim on EMI. Ether way, this is heavenly music whose small scale belies its profundity. As great as his orchestral music is, it is Brahms' chamber music that is his most deeply poetic, especially late works such as these.

  • The Kite Runner   9 years 41 weeks ago

    Most of the people I know who've seen Private Ryan say they're glad they did, though they wouldn't watch it again. Some of my radio colleagues have seen The Kite Runner and say it was worth it for the profound character development and sense of place. One said - about the setting, "All that dust and dirt and poverty. WHAT are they fighting over?"

  • The Kite Runner   9 years 41 weeks ago

    Julie caught my feelings about the book perfectly. Wonderfully written, but at times I had to catch my breath or flip pages quickly. I wouldn't have risked going to the movie.
    I think "Private Ryan" is especially hard on men - we have to ask ourselves whether we could have done it. I avoided it and then was shown a clip of the beginning in a venue I couldn't leave. A friend who is a Gulf War vet was in the audience and he had to close his eyes. Interesting that Rachel also avoided it.
    Amazing how light on a screen can have such an impact on us.

  • The Kite Runner   9 years 41 weeks ago

    when it first came out, and maybe I'll read it. I think there's a bit difference between reading a description of violence and seeing it played out.

  • The Kite Runner   9 years 41 weeks ago

    Although I'm not planning on seeing the movie, I have read (and would highly recommend reading) The Kite Runner. While I was reading, I had to put the book away for quite awhile at a certain point (and it wasn't even the rape scene) to give myself a mental/emotional break. I did finish the book and found that the overall story was well worth the read.

    As a side note about the boys that played in the movie, there have been numerous articles about the boys and their families being relocated to UAE from Afghanistan due to fear of potential backlash at the scene that they enacted in the movie- the movie's release was actually delayed due to concerns for their safety.

  • The Kite Runner   9 years 41 weeks ago

    Have you ever avoided a movie you thought would hit a vulnerable spot? I didn't see Saving Private Ryan -- knowing it was a great film -- but also knowing it would be too emotionally costly.

  • The Kite Runner   9 years 41 weeks ago

    I walked out of "Life is Beautiful." Something about the father's desperation, and the way he endangered the rest of the people being held with him, was impossible for me to watch. I got hot and dizzy and then I just had to leave.

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 43 weeks ago

    So I get home last night at 9:30 and my mom and dad and kids are glued to the final episode of Clash of the Choirs. My dad, a bona fide classical music snob, complains that Patti LaBelle's choir isn't even a real choir. "It's a bunch of soloists with back-up singers." Team LaBelle starts singing. "This is awful," says my mom. "It's late, let's go." But none of us moved. We sat there, totally glued, until the bitter end. It's all about suspense and story with music as the backdrop. Interestingly, classical music organizations are taking cues from the success of these shows. Last year, the Rochester Oratorio Society started a Classical Idol contest and the RPO has a similar Stars contest for teens. I'm waiting for hybrids now. Clash of the Survivor Choirs goes to Tanzania, hosted by Donald Trump. The Biggest Cellist vs. American Gladiator.

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    "Soulless" was totally my own estimation. I actually tuned in for Audra, but couldn't take it. Anyway, it just occurred to me that maybe the only reason NBC used the word "choir" is that "clash" starts with the same letter. Maybe "Battle of the Baritones" is next, or "Schism of the Scat Singers!" I do think that Carl's right that choral arts are alive and well. This show couldn't possibly turn any potentially serious singer down a different road. As for Ms. Lenya, you can't compete with her provenance, but Marianne brings a ragged desperation to "the next pretty boy" that I didn't hear from Lotte.

  • Eleni   9 years 44 weeks ago

    Thanks, Brenda. We can now take the question mark off the orchestra size: it
    is indeed 60 players (32 strings: yum). And interested folk can hear my local
    recording of Eleni highlights at Turned out very well, with
    mostly the great RPO players and great singers.

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    We shouldn't lose sight of the facts. The choral arts are alive and well in the US. Just ask the ACDA or our local Choral Consortium. Not having seen any of this show, I'm extrapolating from what's been written here. If some people have replaced in their minds the wider spectrum of choral music with the singular style of gospel, that's not the fault of gospel.

    It is instead the fault of television that, as usual, it simplifies and distorts a human activity out of all recognition and reality, to suit its own needs. As it has done to our politics. And if there is a racial subtext going on, that's not accidental, either. I'm anxious for people to recognize when they are the victims of media. And then to stop giving it any thought or attention. That's the reward it deserves, and what it most fears. I'd be proactive and start ignoring most of it today. (Present company excluded.)

    Mark, I like Ms. Faithful, but I think Lenya is the Ur text in this rep:

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    I started out with a church choir, which I still do. As well, I'm in a community choir, taking voice lessons, and studying music at university. I will probably not end up singing professionally - I'm thinking of going into teaching - but I will always have some involvement with choral music.

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    I just wish people had more desire for subtlety. And I didn't mean to imply that Audra McDonald was soulless, just that she was all about sound, not image. Substance over style. I've missed the last 2 Clash nights. Who's winning?

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    I snobbishly recommend Marianne Faithfull's version of Alabama Song. Clash of the Choirs was about what I expected - after all, it's Nick Lachey we're talking about, not John Rutter - but given the choice that night between Audra McDonald's soulless preening, it was a no-brainer to go back to NBC to check out Patti Labelle's group of singers. They might not have been a "choir," but they sure found a groove.

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago


    How about Weill's Solomon's Song? There's less despair there.

    You all have heard of Solomon
    The wisest man on earth
    He understood humanity
    And so he cursed the hour of his birth
    And saw that all was vanity
    How great and wise was Solomon!
    And yet before the day was done
    The world could see where it would end
    His wisdom brought him to his bitter end
    How fortunate the man with none.

    I'm trying very hard not to be a snob. ;)


  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    Brenda, these things are fascinating, like a train-wreck, but why torture yourself?

    The words of Weill's tune offer, if not an answer, at least a strategy:

    "Show us the way to the next whiskey bar
    Oh, don't ask why
    Oh, don't ask why

    For if we don't find the next whiskey bar
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you, I tell you
    I tell you we must die!"

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    You write that if Clash the Choirs was your intro to choral singing, you wouldn't be singing now. What do you sing and who do you sing with?

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    Thanks for clearing up the meaning of "ACDA." I figured it was something like that, and most of the people reading that site know what the acronym stands for, I'm sure.

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    ACDA = American Choral Directors Assoc. I'm sure the writer was referring to ACDA's annual conventions which feature some of the best choral singing on the planet.

  • Clash of the Choirs II   9 years 44 weeks ago

    I only caught the tail end of the first choir, and stayed to listen to the rest. If that had been my introduction to choral music, I would not be singing now! I was also bothered by the comments about the white singers who didn't sound white, and it seemed like it was not so much about choral singing as a particular style of pop music, with lead singers & a backup group. It also seemed like LaBelle was the only one who listened to everyone before deciding on her choir - how could Bolton listen to that quartet and only take one of them!? The other 3 were better than some of the men he had already accepted.

  • sheep's guts   9 years 44 weeks ago

    Many thanks Brenda - it feels great to have the England - WXXI connection in the Holiday Season. Before streaming, Christmas in England meant missing all my favorite WXXI shows - which rubbed salt into the wound of being away.
    I will be only about 60 miles east of Cambridge on Christmas Eve, but would have to queue up from morning to get into "Festival of Nine Lessons and Caroles". So I will listen on BBC and then hear it again on WXXI. I am privileged to attend Evensong regularly which is magical in the winter with no light except the choristers' candles.
    You may be interested that in the last five or so years, American style house decorating has spread through England. It is still a minority sport, but growing rapidly.
    So glad that Simon's and Richard's and your voices will be with me in an English village over the Christmas Season.

  • Creating the "Win Win"   9 years 45 weeks ago

    I found your 11/30/07 Need To Know interview video at

    Great interview. I wish you all the best during this critical period. You're an inspiration for the greater good and I hope your angel investor shows up soon! Here's a possible funder who may be of some help: My contact there is Kevin Jones.

    Warm wishes for the holidays,


  • Clash of the Choirs!   9 years 45 weeks ago

    I beseech thee, resist! Enter not into temptation! Bolton cometh, shorn of locks, but his cries echo. A brethren of Otis and Ray he presents himself, yet a brother he is NOT!

    And don't get me started on Nick Lachey!