Spring-like Miscellany

Amid the mild temperatures here In Philly, I offer a few miscellaneous links:

– Fanfare has a substantial interview with my Penn colleague Jay Reise, as well as reviews of some of his CDs.

– two views of Measha Bruggergosman: astonishing performances of  Chausson and Joni Mitchell.

– recent listening:

– Miles Davis Quintet: The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions. Three discs encompassing the albums Miles, John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones made quickly to finish out a Prestige contract as the group was switching to Columbia. Fascinating to hear so much material dating from a relatively short period of time. A fourth disc includes live recordings from the same period as well as some transcriptions of Miles’s solos.

– Sofia Gubaidulina: Offertorium (Gidon Kremer, Boston Symphony, Charles Dutoit); Hommage to T. S. Eliot (Christine Whittlesey, soprano, Music from Lockenhaus ensemble). I know there are some folks who value this music very highly, and I want to like Gubaidulina’s music. After all, the premise of passionate expression conveyed by a wide-range of musical materials is sympathetic. But in the end the thinness of the musical discourse frustrates me, particularly in the Eliot piece. I’m not saying you have to have counterpoint all the time – there are composers like Debussy and Crumb who can make the non-contrapuntal passages in their music work, but that takes finer musical ideas than are in evidence here. The performances are intense, often hyper-intense, as one would expect with Kremer. But given the poverty of the music, the intensity seems incongruous, a strenuous effort to sell what is not first-rate merchandise.