Sunday, December 30, 2012

Solti : Dvorak's New World

I have heard this performance recently and have added this to the higher echelons of this symphony's readings. Now the readings are ranked in this category: Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic; Istvan Kertesz/London Symphony; Georg Solti/ Chicago; Carlo Maria Giulini/Chicago; Rudolf Kempe/Royal Philharmonic; Herbert von Karajan/Vienna Philharmonic; Zubin Mehta/Los Angeles Philharmonic; Karel Ancerl/Czech Philharmonic. This is intense drama bringing out the emotional power of Dvorak's composition with Czech and German thoughts interspersed with Negro and Red Indian melodies. Magnificent! The best reading is by Leonard Bernstein and New York. 2. Istvan Kertesz and London. 3. Georg Solti and Chicago. 4. Carlo Maria Giulini and Chicago. 5. Zubin Mehta and Los Angeles.6. Rudolf Kempe and Royal Philharmonic. 7. Karel Ancerl and Czech Philharmonic. 8. Herbert Von Karajan and Vienna. 9. Arturo Toscanini and NBC. 10. Rafael Kubelik and Berlin.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sibelius Fifth

When Sibelius turned fifty, the Finnish government commissioned a symphony to commemorate his birthday. That day, 8th December 1915, was declared as a national holiday. Sibelius went on to revise the symphony four years later and that version stands today. After the path breaking and dark A Minor Fourth symphony, Sibelius faced a point of tumult in his life. Despite the sonata form deformation in the first movement which incorporates a deceptive second movement within itself in the shape of a scherzo, the symphony still stands as a successful statement till date. The journey of Sibelius from the abyss of the A Minor to the sunshine of the E Flat Major reminds us that rather than trundling along the path of the Fourth Symphony where he pushed the key sense to the borders of atonality, Sibelius wanted to focus on how the musical thoughts developed in his mind; he wanted that to dictate the format of the symphony. Unlike the psychological Fourth, the E Flat Major Fifth does not meander into the fathomless recesses of the soul. In fact, the Fifth has more links with his impressionistic tone poem, the sea spun `Oceanides' which was written in 1914. The symphony begins with the cold spring sunshine. Sibelius called the swinging trumpet call of the first movement, `the Swan theme'. The horns open the symphony with a motif of two superimposed fourths with the woodwinds answering in parallel thirds. The whole symphony is characterised by this kind of tension between these types of themes that move forward in a step like motion like a cosmic rhythm which is pulsating in the background. The first movement climax is one of the greatest in Sibelius' oeuvre. Swans gave Sibelius the inspiration for the grand main theme for this E Flat Major Symphony. Sibelius had noted in his diary that he got the idea for the theme when he saw sixteen swans gliding in a pond and he was struck by their beauty. The Second Movement he described in his diary as an earth song of misery with fortissimo and mutes. The movement opens like a single sea bird singing its forlorn song in G Major. It is like a theme with variations. The pizzicato of the strings with the parallel thirds of the flutes are pitted against each other. The key modulates later to E Flat Major. The recapitulation is almost like a reverie. In the final movement, the Olympus swan theme comes out through the trombones. The strings rise as if they want to reach the sky. Sibelius builds up a symphonic tension here, the like of which is rarely heard as the symphony ends with the fortissimo blows. Gennady Rozhdestvensky has given a magnificent definitive reading of this symphony with the Moscow Radio followed by Erik Tuxen/Danish State Radio and Lorin Maazel/Wiener.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

C Major Piano Concerto of Ferruccio Busoni

Busoni was an Italian composer who lived a short life of 58 years from 1866 to 1924. He died of a kidney ailment. He is well known for his piano transcriptions of Bach's harpsichord and clavichord works. He has written many works for solo pianoforte and orchestra. His famous works are Doktor Faustus, Nocturne Symphonique , Piano Concerto (attached here), Piano Konzertstuck, Violin Concerto and Turandot Suite. This C Major Piano Concerto is unique for being the longest piano concerto ever written.The concerto also involves a pipe organ and choir. The famous British pianist, John Ogdon, was an ardent fan and champion of this concerto.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Zubin Mehta - His Journey

Zubin Mehta was born on 29th April, 1936 in Bombay. His father, Mehli Mehta, has been a distinguished violinist himself who founded the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. Though Zubin took up medicine for his career, he gave it up later when he found that physiology was not his cup of tea. Zubin conducted the Bombay Symphony for a charity concert when he was just sixteen. Zubin Mehta was sent to Vienna where he studied conducting under an able conductor Hans Swarowsky. Claudio Abbado and Daniel Barenboim were his classmates. Zubin Mehta went on to do well and won the International Conducting Competition in Liverpool, bagging the assistant conductor post at the Royal Philharmonic in 1958. He was awarded the highest prize in the esteemed Koussevitzky Competition at Tanglewood in 1960. Charles Munch was impressed and recommended him to the Musical Directorship for Montreal in 1961. He held that tenure for a year before moving on to Los Angeles in 1962. Georg Solti decided to move on to London. Mehta was with Los Angeles till 1978 and had successful guest stints with Vienna and Israel. He was made Director for Life with Israel. Zubin was heading New York from 1978 to 1991.This was the longest tenure for any conductor with this orchestra. He took up the conducting post at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino from then on to 1998. The next eight years, he spent with the Bavarian State Opera and the Munich Philharmonic. Since 2006, he conducts regularly with Palau de les Arts at Valencia along with Lorin Maazel. The Government of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001. Karl Bohm also awarded him with the Artur Nikisch's prestigious Vienna Philharmonic Ring of Honour.

Organ Symphony of Charles Camille Saint Saens

Saint Saens wrote in his memoirs that he would never be able to achieve again what he poured out in this symphony. He gave his everything to this symphony. It is one of his famous works. It was his final hand at the symphony. It turned out spectacular. The themes stir your soul. They are majestic. Each movement is a gem. In the finale, the pipe organ has the biggest say. Saint Saens completed this symphony in 1886. He dedicated it to Franz Liszt. Liszt was the first to integrate the pipe organ into his symphonic poems with his `Hunnenschlacht'. Liszt began his symphonic poem also with the Gregorian Dies Irae sequence. The harmonic structure of Saint Saens' Organ Symphony is unique as he prefers semi-tonal relationships. He supplements the conventional orchestral supports with the bass clarinet and the contrabassoon. There is an extensive and detailed percussion section too with four hands on the piano and the pipe organ. The symphony has a structural pattern of two plus two movements. The Allegro and Adagio on one side and the Scherzo and the Finale on the other as they are played without a break in two self-contained entities. The structure is held in unison by the Gregorian Dies Irae which transforms many times during the course of the work before the radiant conclusion in C Major. The symphony's tonal home is C Minor. The definitive reading of this symphony is done by the Berlin Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta followed by this attached interpretation by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gotterdammerung Valencia Mehta This performance had lasted for almost six hours with two breaks in between. At the end of the performance, Zubin Mehta and the cast had a standing ovation for over fifteen minutes. Three years ago when the project was designed, the whole idea seemed daring and avant-garde by La Fura dels Baus. If the set and direction are shocking, the reviewer is amazed by the harmony between the stage, the pit and the voices. As the triumph of love is the main theme of this opera, love is being rhapsodized in all possible combinations: conjugal love at day break and a full orgy at Brünnhilde’s rock. Zubin Mehta has a lyric approach to the score. The entire orchestra blends in very well, giving a sonic satisfaction to the listener.

The Definitive Ring by Solti For his Musik Drama, Richard Wagner had made it clear with his directives that more important than the singing was the acting component. Wagner was concerned entirely with the outline of his musical leitmotifs that are woven in the fabric of this music drama. An Introduction to the Ring, the beautiful white box set presented by Derryck Cooke, still stays in my mind as the ideal introduction set for anyone visiting the Nibelungen Ring Drama for the first time. Cooke collaborated with Sir Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic. These recordings were engineered by Mr. Culshaw between 1958 and 1965. This is exemplified by this astounding opening to the Drama, the Prelude to Das Rheingold. Das Rheingold has to be one of the most famous of Solti's recordings. I have heard many Rheingolds in the past thirty eight years from Masters like Furtwangler, Levine, Karajan, Boulez and Maazel. They do not come even close to Solti. Solti and Decca have created a miracle. The `Gramophone' magazine has voted it in 1997 as the greatest opera recording ever made. I will agree with it. This 1983 performance with the Bayreuth Festpielhaus does not have that same depth as the Vienna one but it is still way ahead of others.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

D Minor Symphony of Cesar Franck

Cesar Franck was a Belgian composer. He was a proficient organist, pianist and a teacher and settled down in Paris for his musical career. He was a child prodigy, giving public recitals at the age of twelve. He was also hired by pipe organ manufacturers to promote their pipe organs. Franck composed his solo D Minor Symphony in 1887. It is a beautiful symphony with cyclical motifs. The audience did not like it at first when it was performed in Paris and they were fools. The critics were shocked by the form and the structure of the symphony. The harmonic writing at the beginning is bold indeed. Three themes, contrasting in nature, are stated in the beginning in D Minor to be repeated in F Minor. For the musicians and the critics, it was odd. They were also shocked by the second movement being Allegretto instead of the conventional Adagio. There was much talk about the use of an English horn as a solo instrument in the movement. The English horn was considered unworthy of use by a symphonic writer by many of Franck's contemporaries. They forgot that Berlioz had already shocked them at the earlier part of the nineteenth century in the slow movement of his Sinfonie Fantastique. I feel that symphony broke the shackles not only of the Classical age but went a step ahead even in the Romantic era. It was bold enough even for the idiotic critics of the Romantic period. The thematic links In Franck's D Minor Symphony between the individual movements owe a lot to Beethoven's Choral symphony and to Liszt's symphonic poems. Age has proved that Franck's symphony has risen above the mental confines of the thoughts of the idiotic critics of the symphony. The symphony, however, gained popularity elsewhere in Europe and the United States of America later. It is a superbly crafted symphony. It takes a diversion from the typical models of the later Romantic period. It was written in three movements. Each of the movements makes a reference to the opening four-bar theme. The definitive reading of this symphony is by Zubin Mehta and the Berlin Philharmonic followed by this attached interpretation of Leonard Bernstein and the Orchestre Nationale de France; there is another great reading available by the Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam under Karel Ancerl.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Richard Strauss: Symphony No. 2 in F Minor

Richard Strauss completed his F Minor Second Symphony in 1884. It was premiered, surprisingly, in New York by the New York Philharmonic under Theodore Thomas in December 1884 and Strauss played the symphony for the first time in Munich in 1885. The first movement is an Allegro in sonata form with three themes. It is reminiscent of Beethoven's early period music like the Coriolan or the Egmont overtures. The second movement is the scherzo which became very popular with the Bavarian audiences. The slow third movement has a brass motif that recalls the transition from the first Allegro movement. The final movement is inspired by Bruckner's style of composing. The themes of the other movements are recalled by Strauss just like Bruckner's `Wagner' Symphony in D Minor. It is a shame that Richard Strauss' symphonies in D Minor and this F Minor are neglected by all principal conductors of the past as well as the present ages. Johannes Brahms had attended Strauss' concert when he performed this symphony in Munich and commended it, finding it attractive. In the final movement, you can hear the strains of the opening theme of Eine Alpensinfonie. This recording is by the Slovak Philharmonic under Michael Halasz.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stabat Mater: Dvorak

Dvorak's Stabat Mater is a Cantata that was completed in 1877. Among all Stabat Maters that have been written, this stands out as probably the best. It is the most symphonic of them all. Recently, I heard another excellent Stabat Mater written by Karl Jenkins. This work by Dvorak was premiered in Prague in December 1880. When Dvorak started work on his Stabat Mater, he was grieving for a daughter that he had lost recently and before he completed the Stabat Mater, he lost his other two children too. This work became one of mourning and also that of healing for him. Technically, Stabat Mater in Latin means Lamentation of a Mother. It reflects on Virgin Mary's grief as she stands under the cross and looks at the crucified Christ. The introduction to Stabat Mater is a haunting prelude for orchestra in Wagnerian style. Wagner had visited Prague a few months before Dvorak started work on his Stabat Mater and the lovely preludes to Lohengrin must have left an impact on the mind of Dvorak. The prelude opens quietly into a melody that is tragic and is falling. The work is written in ten movements. It became so popular in England that Dvorak was called to conduct it there. Without a doubt, this Stabat Mater is superior to the ones written by Johann Sebastian Bach, Giovanni Pergolesi, Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt, Giuseppe Verdi, Zoltan Kodaly, Krzysztof Penderecki and Karl Jenkins.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Richard Strauss Symphony No. 1 in D Minor

This Symphony in D Minor was Richard Strauss' first major work. It was first played in 1880. It was well acclaimed by the audience in its first performance. He actually started composition when he was only six years old. Richard Strauss was only sixteen when he completed this symphony.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dvorak's Requiem

The Requiem is written in B Flat Minor. It is a funeral mass which was written in 1890 as it was commissioned for the Birmingham Festival in England. The Requiem has Introitus-Graduale-Dies Irae-Offertorium-Sanctus-Agnus Dei as its sections. Dvorak conducted its premiere in October 1891 in Birmingham. In addition to the solo singers, chorus and the standard Romantic orchestra ensemble strength, the additional instruments were the organ, harp, tam tam (Chau Gong) and Campane (bells). The opening of the Introitus is in a mysterious mood and the opening of the Dies Irae is thunderously rattling. There have been critics who have reviewed this work and called it dull and uninspiring. Obviously, their mind has wandered elsewhere and never followed the threads of this music. The Requiem is expressive and full of passion. It is a choral gem. It also became one of the most popular choral works of Dvorak and that too in his lifetime. He saw it performed many times in the remaining thirteen years of his life. This is the first reading of Mariss Jansons that has impressed me. The ensemble is Bayerischen Rundfunks. Sounds even better than the Karel Ancerl and the Slovak Philharmonic.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seiji Ozawa performing the Resurrection

I have always admired the readings of Seiji Ozawa ever since I saw him conduct at Philadelphia in 1974. Though the Maestro has been suffering from esophageal cancer since last year, his determination is outstanding in this brilliant rendition of the Resurrection.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Noble Bachelor

The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor is one of the fifty six gems written about Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is the rare story in the Return of Sherlock Holmes editions. It portrays Holmes suffering with visions and delusions of his famous fall with Moriarty and his near death experiences. This story also tells us how dreams can sometimes foreshadow events in a man's life. A very well woven tale about Lord Robert St. Simon, the eligible bachelor who was thrice married and the doomed fate of Ladies Helena, Maud and Henrietta Doran. Jeremy Brett is as usual superb as Sherlock Holmes and no other has played Holmes better than him. This is a great film.

The Trouble with Harry

AAA masterpiece by the Master Director Alfred Hitchcock. It is more a delightful comedy than a suspense thriller. It revolves around a corpse in a Vermont village. You are going to like the settings, Glenn, as it is set in beautiful Vermont during the Fall. Shirley Maclaine makes her debut with this film. It has little suspense with a touch of black humour. The film also has John Forsythe (who played the patriarch Blake Carrington in the TV series Dynasty). Jerry Mathers plays Arnie Rogers, son of Shirley Maclaine and the story pivots around him as he is the one who stumbles on the corpse of Harry Worp and is the saviour of the whole plot with his peculiar sense of timing. Superb music by Bernard Herrmann with a tongue-in-cheek control by Hitchcock. The film was completed in 1954 and released in 1955.

Friday, June 29, 2012

C Major Symphony of Richard Wagner Everyone knows Wilhelm Richard Wagner for his Music Dramas! Not many people know that he wrote two symphonies. Wagner wrote the symphonies when he was just nineteen. The one in E Major was discontinued after he completed two movements. Joachim Raff compiled the lost score of this symphony and scant performances remain though. There are not many recordings available. Wagner composed his C Major Symphony in a space of just six weeks in 1832. There is much influence of Beethoven from the seventh symphony period. The skillful contrapuntal techniques used by Wagner are remarkable at such an early age. The first movement is in sonata form. There is an establishment of a basic motif. you will find strains of it in the Prelude to Das Rheingold. The second movement shifts to A Minor. It is in ABBA plus coda form. The movement begins with the motif from the coda of the first movement. Wagner has established an organic relationship between the movements. The scherzo is clear with a formal structure. The coda once again will remind of Beethoven. The Finale Allegro Molto e Vivace is again in the sonata form and here Wagner accelerates the tempo halfway through the coda at good speed. This symphony has remained idle for long and music conductors have been negligent towards it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Lord of the Rings Symphony of Howard Shore

The Hunt for Gollum

Fate - E Minor Fifth Symphony of Tchaikovsky A magnificent reading of Tchaikovsky's Fifth by Leonard Bernstein and the Boston Symphony.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Der Vorleser

Another great film based on a good book `Der Vorleser'written by Bernard Schlink in 1995. A haunting drama of a love story between a fifteen year old German boy and a mysterious tram ticket collector. Period drama involving war trials of Auschwitz and how literature and good reading transcends above morality and judgment. Superb direction by Stephen Daldry and a brilliant musical score by Nico Muhly. I have seen this film after four years and am spellbound. Kate Winslet is outstanding. Nudity in the film is artistically brought forward. Winslet went under the skin of the role. Ralph Fiennes is his usual brilliant and competent self. Bruno Ganz (Der Untergang)and (The Unknown)is excellent as the law professor.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

House of Sand and Fog

Andre Dubus III has written a fine novel. The film is based on that. This book was nominated for the United States National Book Award in 1999. The plot is about a California beach house. The conflict in the drama involves an upper class Iranian family who has taken refuge in the United States after the Shah regime people were expelled from the Iran post the Khomeini revolution. Massoud Behrani is an ex Colonel from the Shah's air force. Kathy Nicolo loses her beach house property to the State of California for non payment of taxes and the house is auctioned and picked up by the Behranis in that auction. The tale takes the viewers through the sand and fog to submission and tragic circumstances. An incredibly sad and powerful tale. This is undoubtedly Ben Kingsley's best performance. Jennifer Connelly is outstanding as Kathy Nicolo. The real scorer in the film is James Horner with a riveting background score.Very well directed by Vadim Perelman.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

They Shall Have Music

A rare 1939 film gem with Jascha Heifetz in it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Tchaikovsky's Opera `Tcherevichky' is also known as `Oxana's Caprices' or `Tsarina's Golden Slippers' or `Vakula the Smith'. It is an opera written in four acts. It is based on Gogol's comedy about the antics of the devil on a Christmas eve. This opera is incredible to watch. This is my first viewing in 2012. I have come across this opera performance after fifty six years of hunting. It is a fun opera.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stabat Mater Karl Jenkins

Karl Jenkins has never disappointed me. This is an invigorating composition I have come across this morning. One of the best Stabat Maters I have come across. Probably the forerunner after Dvorak. Here is a review written by Moira after a concert in Johannesburg, South Africa: The Stabat Mater is a medieval poem about the suffering of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus during his trial and crucifixion. It focuses on motherly love, worship, suffering of good people and the triumph of hope over pain. Jenkins' version is a modern one, utilising the world concept, making much of the musical, literary and language traditions of the Holy Land or the Middle East. From the opening phrases, we are aware of subtle textures in the wind passages which open the work. There is a duduk, a traditional Armenian reed instrument as well as several Middle Eastern percussion instruments which also find place in the score. Jenkins makes use not only of the Latin in which the original poem is written, but also Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and English. The work progresses over twelve movements lasting more than an hour. At the end of the concert the audience rose to its feet in tribute to the music and musicians. South African audiences so often do this that it is almost meaningless on many occasions, however, tonight it was heartfelt by most of the audience. What happened in the City Hall was musical magic. The University of Johannesburg Arts Academy and all others connected with this event can be truly proud of what was accomplished.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gabriel Faure Requiem

Gabriel Faure wrote his Requiem in 1888. He composed this work after going through a period of personal grief. He had lost his father about three years back and his mother a year after that.When he first completed the Requiem, it was written only for voices, violas, celli, organ, harp and timpani. He revised it in 1895 and added french horns, trumpets, woodwinds and full strings including the violins and the contrabasses. He also added a sixth movement Libera Mae. The Requiem is an intense and personal expression of Faure that gives a feeling of serene consolation.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shostakovich C Minor Fourth

The C Minor Shostakovich Fourth Symphony was written in 1935 and fell victim to Stalin's idiosyncracies.

Stalin had visited Shostakovich's opera, 'Lady Macbeth of MtKinsk' and sat near the performers section right near the brass players. He was blasted by some segments in the opera and got enraged by the discomfort he felt. After the performance, he passed a directive that Shostakovich's opera and the Fourth Symphony, that was ready for its premiere be withdrawn, be withdrawn from the repertory of all performing societies in Russia.

The symphony got its premiere performance in 1960 in Russia. It got its first performance in America in 1961 under Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is this recording. I never knew till today that Ormandy could conduct Shostakovich so well. It is just brilliant!
The work is a troubled one with its ironic dance movements and mystic woodwind solos. The strings are screeching for attention at times, bringing an underlying darkness out. The first movement fugue contrasts well with the two illusive climaxes. The Moderato second movement is cute with its memorable themes. All the movements are charged with emotion including the Largo and the Allegro. They are reflective of Mahler's late writing style. The slower passages in the symphony have been so well accentuated. Ormandy brings these effects out in a surprisingly feel easy mode. I have heard other performances also and hold this as definitive.

Friday, March 23, 2012

First of May

Dmitri Shostakovich's `First of May', his Third Symphony in E Flat Major, written for chorus and orchestra, is inspired by dates on the Russian revolutionary calendar. It is an energetic and flippant composition. It is quite thrilling though not being high on spiritual fervour.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

To October - Shostakovich Second Symphony

Dmitri Shostakovich: To October - Symphony No. 2 - B Major - was composed in 1928. He was studying at the St. Petersburg conservatory then. The work does not reveal much inspiration. It is a piece written to reflect patriotism and looks it was written for some Soviet holidays. One thing is evident by the end of the symphony that he approached this composition with a fair bit of irony.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Piano Concerto in B Minor of Wilhelm Furtwangler

Wilhelm Furtwangler's Symphonic Piano Concerto in B Minor was written in 1935-36 and was premiered in Munich on 26th October 1937. There is a very small repertory of recordings for this work. Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta revived the work in Los Angeles in the 1970s. I find the work just about decent but not inspired at all.

Shostakovich F Minor First Symphony Gergiev London

This symphony is innovative and cute. Stays in my head long after I finish hearing it. This performance as well as Barshai's with the West Deutsches Radio is good.

Another performance I like is by the Moscow Radio under his son, Maxim Shostakovich.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Enigma Variations

A magnificent work by Sir Edward Elgar

I have never listened to the Enigma Variations till this morning with an intent. I have come out completely drenched with inspiration. This is one of the most wonderful experiences I have had.
This is a fourteen part composition by Elgar. He wrote the opening Adagio theme as a song for an orchestra and each variation has been dedicated to one of his friends or family members.
It is a dreamy work which is extremely dynamic. The Nimrod is played brilliantly by Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago players. The entire work has been played well by Leonard Bernstein with the BBC Symphony and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain under Christopher Seaman.

Seven Years in Tibet

Jean Jacques Annaud has made a masterpiece film in 1997. Brad Pitt's performance has gone unnoticed. John Williams' expression has also gone unnoticed. The film is on the experience of an Austrian mountaineer, Heinrich Harrer, who wrote his memoirs on the days spent in Tibet between 1944 and 1951.
Annaud made another great film in 'Enemy at the Gates'. This film won a Rembrandt Award for Pitt as best actor. The film was also recognised by the Guild of German Art House Cinemas as the best foreign film in 1998. America and England ignored the film and its magnificent music.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Mute

This short story is taken from the compilation of Stephen King's `Just After Sunset'. It is about a salesman from Baltimore, Monette, who gets into a confession booth and starts talking to a priest. He mentions about an incident when he picked up a hitchhiker on the Maine Turnpike. The hitchhiker turns out to be mute. To while away the time during the ride with the hitchhiker, Monette starts talking and discovers that the person is a mute who cannot speak nor hear. "He was deaf, he was mute, hell, I thought he was probably asleep and I could say any fucking thing I wanted to!"

Monette is fifty five and his wife fifty four. Monette starts complaining about how his wife cheated on him and ran away with another guy who was sixty years old and after swindling her office funds, blows all the money on lotteries and lingerie and finally is being hunted by investigators.
Just before reaching his destination, Monette stops at a gas station for a leak and when he returns, he finds the mute gone, stealing the St. Christopher's medal hanging to the rear view mirror.
Two days later, Monette gets a call from the Maine State Police that his wife and her lover had been beaten to death in a motel. Monette realizes that he had told everything to the mute including the name of the motel where she and her lover were meeting and where Monette himself lived.
Monette confesses to the priest that he found his St. Christopher's medal on his dressing table one day with a note saying "Thank you for the ride."
The priest asks Monette, "Do you want the police to catch this man?". Though Monette is very happy about what the supposed mute has done, he says to the priest, "Of course, I do."
On his way back home from the confessional, Monette adds two extra Hail Marys and two extra Our Fathers.
The story has a good touch to it but for the crafting, it gets a B.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Missa Solemnis

Beethoven's Missa Solemnis was composed in 1823. Beethoven set his First Mass in C Major. Op. 86 many years earlier. The Mass is also an important choral work in the Beethoven archives.
Missa Solemnis is considered as one of the three greatest masses ever written along with Bach's B Minor Mass and Bruckner's F Minor Mass.
Missa Solemnis can be classified as a massive choral symphony. It is one of Beethoven's major achievements. He wrote it at the height of his powers. It is scored for the full classical orchestra including the trombones, soloists and four part chorus. It is scored in five movements.
The definitive performance is given by Herbert Von Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker with the Wiener Singverein. Another noteworthy performance is by Leonard Bernstein and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam.
An excerpt of the Recapitulation of the First Movement Kyrie Eleison played by Karajan

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lenin Shostakovich XII