Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Life of Brian

One of the greatest parodies ever made in a zany style, with apologies and due respect to all Christians! On that famous midnight clear, three wise men enter a manger led by the Star of the East to find an infant called Brian...they are obviously in the wrong manger! Brian is played by Graham Chapman and he is destined to become the Messiah. He is always in the shadow of the `other guy' from Galilee. The scene of the Sermon on the Mount' is extremely hilarious. Brian becomes a witness to that sermon along with his mother but gets a place so far away that he cannot hear a word of what Jesus is saying. It is interpreted by people standing close by who are as dumb as him as they hear phrases like `Blessed are the Cheese Makers'! Ultimately, he is brought before Pontius Pilate and sentenced to crucifixion, which takes place at a crowded execution site a few blocks shy of Calvary. Instead of uttering the last six words, Brian has to hear an English cheer-up song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." The entire Monty Python troupe (Chapman, Jones, Cleese, Palin, Idle and Gilliam) are there, playing multiple roles - some of them being Loretta, Biggus Dickus, Deadly Dirk, Casts the First Stone and Intensely Dull Youth. “Life of Brian” is not only a tongue-in-cheek mockery of religion but a twist on the theist myths as seen through the eyes of Brian who wants to be a hero but finds out that it is all meaningless nonsense that earns him only bunch of imbecile followers who are seeking to earn a little retribution through his sacrifices.Brian is the unintended messiah, the man who fell in to his aspirtaions for fame while Jesus sought it out. “Life of Brian” has a lot to say about religion,martyrs and dictators and the futile living exercise where you are either a sheep or a shepherd. Monty Python's zany sense of comedy shows up when Brian is saved by alien ships from Star Wars' series. This film will also go down as a masterpiece from the Monty Python group. http://youtu.be/krb2OdQksMc

Saturday, November 8, 2014

5 Essential Green Power Technologies for a Hazard Free Environment

The energy sources that are being used by dominant industries use fossil fuels and they have a negative impact on the environment. They also play a large part in global warming and climate change. The fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil and coal cause considerable harm when compared with sources of renewable energy to a large extent, polluting both air and water. Slowly but surely, they will damage public health and eradicate wildlife habitats with the hazardous greenhouse gas emissions. It is necessary to understand the impact on the environment and climate change associated with renewable energy sources and green power technologies like wind power, solar power, geothermal power, biomass energy and hydropower. The intensity of the impact on the environment will depend on a particular green power technology used along with several other factors. When we understand the environmental issues that are associated with each green power technology, we can begin to take necessary steps to minimize the impact on climate change and global warming. The five green power technologies that have the potential to make this positive impact are the wind turbines that float, concentrated solar power, geothermal power, biomass gasification and tidal hydropower. Wind Turbines Operation of the floating wind turbines on a commercial level holds the key to unlock the wind power potential in areas where wind force is steadier and stronger. As against the standard offshore wind turbines that need concrete base erections in the sea bed, the floating wind turbines can be anchored in the sea bed with the help of a few cables only at areas which are about seven hundred meters deep, much like the offshore platform technology of oil and gas installations. Researchers have discovered that there was a change in the climatic conditions around a wind farm in Texas as a result of the presence of the wind turbines. The first floating turbine has been built off the coast of Maine. Concentrated Solar Power This green power technology involves mirrors that are used to project sunlight on to a receiver which captures and transforms this solar energy into heat for the purpose of electricity generation. This type of technology is being used for the last three decades and more. During the past few years, this green power technology has emerged stronger with molten salt techniques and innovative solutions for thermal storage. Solar power provides considerable resources for the generation of sustainable electricity without the toxic pollution of the environment or the global warming emissions. Geothermal Power This green power technology has an answer to the requirements concerning protection of the environment and sustainable development. It harnesses the natural heat from the earth and it is a source that works without cessation. Geothermal energy is clean and its resources range from shallow ground to hot magma rock and hot water found miles under the surface of the earth. Geothermal heat pumps can tap the resources from the shallow ground to provide heat to the buildings or cool them when necessary. They work on a heat exchanger and an air delivery system of pipes that are buries in the shallow ground near the buildings. Wells are also drilled into the reservoirs underground for electricity generation. The direct use applications include heating of buildings, growth of plants in greenhouses and various other industrial processes. Biomass Gasification This green power technology converts biomass to combustible gas and uses it for the generation of power. This technology has emerged as a vehicle for conversion of available biomass waste into clean energy. A biomass gasification plant uses a gas conversion system to convert solid biomass into combustible gas which is clean. This is done with the help of processes which are thermo-chemical and they involve drying, gasification and pyrolysis stages. Bioenergy possesses the potential to replace fossil fuels and, thereby, reduce the impact on climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide during biomass gasification. Tidal Hydropower Flowing water has the power to create energy which can be captured and transformed into electricity. This process is known as hydropower. A common example of hydropower is one that uses a river dam to store water in reservoirs. Water which is released from these reservoirs through a turbine activates a generator for the production of electricity. A whole range of devices that include offshore floats, pitching devices and buoys and oscillating water columns along with underwater turbines have been developed recently to generate electricity from tides and waves of the ocean, giving rise to the tidal hydropower segment of the green power technology. These underwater turbines carry the potential of tidal hydropower generation. Tidal power cannot get depleted like the fossil fuels can. The tidal forces are due to the gravitational interaction of the earth with both the moon and the sun and tidal power will last as long as these two celestial bodies exist. Why are the Green Power Technologies essential? For the next few decades, it will be the wave of the green power technologies as they will be the perfect choice for renewable energy. They will be essential as they provide clean energy. The equipment they use will not be resource-consuming to generate power and there will be no danger of any hazard to our environment.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Great Presentation by BBC on Eroica

http://youtu.be/mFA_tT8_v-Q Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven's pupil and friend recorded his memoirs of Beethoven and explained one of the myths of the cultural history of the nineteenth century - 1804 - Beethoven's ripping off the dedication page of his Eroica Symphony and stripping Bonaparte's importance after learning that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor of France. Ries mentions that Beethoven had Napoleon Bonaparte as his ideal when composing Eroica. Napoleon was then the First Consul. Beethoven held him in high regard and compared him to the greatest consuls of Rome. On hearing that Napoleon acted like a common dictator, Beethoven flew into a rage and got disappointed that Bonaparte was after all a common mortal. He knew that he will tread the needs of the common man under his feet. Anton Schindler also mentions this incident in his biographical account of Ludwig van Beethoven. Ries remained as an unpaid secretary and an assistant to Beethoven during the last years of the composer. The dedication of the symphony finally went in favour of Count Lichnowsky.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Legends of the Fall

This 1994 film is a masterpiece by Edward Zwick. Its romanticism against the magnificent hilly backdrop of Montana skies is like a master brush work on the cinematic canvas and truly deserves the cinematography Oscar it got. The entire cast delivers capable performances beginning with Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn and Julia Ormond. James Horner has surpassed himself in this engrossing drama and has composed a magnificent score. Hopkins has delivered an austere and a melancholy portrayal of his character. As per the ancient fables of Native American Indians, there is a story which is hidden within our hearts; the story of our lives guided by inner voices that some of us hear with greater clarity than the others. Some people live by what they can hear and such people become a little crazy. They also become legends. The story revolves around Colonel William Ludlow (Hopkins and his three sons, his favourite being Tristan (Pitt). Colonel raises his children to escape the imperfections of a society which is ruled by a government he respects no longer. Henry Thomas has also played his part capably as the third son Samuel. This is a tragic tale of the life they all shared and the wounds they suffered, many of which never healed. This is an emotionally engrossing film and the visuals are absolutely stunning. Bronze Wrangler deserves the Oscar. The musical score, once again, is a gem. This film will go down as a Classic! I saw it first on a British Airways flight bound to London from Bombay. http://youtu.be/Rtxdl36WnC8

Advanced Apprentice Programme of Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz has taken a decision to set up an Apprenticeship Scheme based on the dual education system practiced in Germany. Many companies are now following the model set up in Germany and encouraged by the German government to set up apprenticeship schemes. This scheme lays stress on the blend of classroom theory and training with the hands-on technical experience of the actual workshop. About sixty per cent of the students who complete the high school level of education go on to take apprenticeships. The apprentices can opt for training and select a career as perhaps Parts/Accessories Specialists or Technicians. The student apprentices in the United Kingdom will get a chance to be trained at the new Mercedes Benz National Apprentice Academy in Milton Keynes. Mercedes Benz has provided dormitory facilities with single individual rooms. A practical training course can get the apprentices an NCQ Certificate (Native Command Queuing) which is designed to improve performance in technological studies. The apprentices will get to train on cars and diagnostic procedures with the latest technology. They will be paid a stipend while on training and this is one of the best apprenticeship schemes in the United Kingdom. The economic crisis has motivated a restructuring of the alignment between manufacture and servicing in several countries such as the United Kingdom. Mercedes Benz is extending the apprenticeship scheme even to the United States of America. It has a plant near Tuscaloosa in Alabama. It has actually started building cars there almost fifteen years ago. During this period, the sales in the United States and the evolution in technology became a challenge for Mercedes Benz with the complexities involved and it faced bigger problems in terms of the supply of skilled labour. Yet, Mercedes Benz is now trying to take the sharp aspects of the German dual education system and make it even better in the United States. It is going to start with a class of sixty apprentices or `mecatronic’ trainees, as they are called, beginning this fall. Many apprentices have enrolled in a three year program also at the Mercedes Benz plant at the outskirts of Stuttgart. These apprentices are getting trained in `mecatronics’ which is a mix of electronic and mechanical engineering. The training will set them up for a full time career for life should they opt to stay on with Mercedes Benz and in majority of the cases, they do get themselves confirmed as technicians. This, in turn, solves Mercedes Benz’s problem of looking around for skilled labour which does not come without extra cost. Each year, Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes Benz, hires around two thousand apprentices and that is safely about one third of the car sector’s annual intake in Germany. The Mercedes Benz Apprentice Training program has been a priority with the car maker since the past one hundred and twenty years. When the demand for skilled workers had increased sharply in 1888, Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler created something that was unique and revolutionary. They decided to train and mould their young recruits and turn them into full-fledged technicians. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft started the apprenticeship program and trained individual apprentices.

5 Most Dangerous Cars as Rated by IIHS

There are some cars that are good in surviving car crashes and protecting the passengers far better than others. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has done some crash tests on cars to determine the best and the worst. This Institute has always remained dedicated in promoting the reduction of the impact of crashes on the roads in the United States of America. The Institute set up ratings in four categories. The first category was the frontal crash where the cars move at forty miles per hour and collide head-on with a barrier. The second category was the side impact crash in which an SUV-like demo object hits the driver’s side at thirty one miles per hour. The third category was the rollover rating. Here, the corner of the car is hit by a metal plate to check the force it can endure before it rolls over. The fourth category was the rear impact protection rating to emphasize the safety of the seats and the ability of the seatbelts to protect from a whiplash. Five cars that received indifferent ratings and were deemed dangerous were: 1. Dodge Ram 1500 – It received marginal ratings in side impact and rollover categories. It weighs half a ton. It does not have an impressive safety track record. 2. Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab – It received a poor rating for side impact and marginal for rollover and rear impact categories. It is a light truck made by General Motors. Last year in November, there was a recall of over five thousand Colorado units for seat belt safety concern. 3. Mazda CX 7 – It received a marginal rating for rollover and rear impact categories. It has not been considered as a safe car to drive. 4. Mazda CX 9 – It has also received marginal ratings in rollover and rear impact categories. It has the lowest strength-to-weight ratio among all the mid-sized SUVS tested by the IIHS. This ratio tells us about the force impact a roof can endure before it crushes five inches. 5. Nissan Pathfinder – It received marginal ratings in rollover and rear impact categories. The Pathfinder is liable to be thirty per cent more risky at the time of rollover as reported during the tests.

Prince of the Romantics

I have finally read the biography of Frederic Chopin written by Adam Zamoyski. This was initially published in 1979 but was not available in English transcriptions for all these years. In his short life of thirty nine years, Chopin elicited very strong emotions. Very few composers have been cherished like him. Plenty of mushy nonsense has also been written about him. This biography was intended to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Chopin. This compelling account manages to cut through the myths that have sprung around Chopin's life and the enigmatic Parisian personalities who were his contemporaries. This group included Berlioz, Victor Hugo, Franz Liszt and George Sand. Zamoyski has captured the social and historical background of Chopin's native Poland and of Paris where he spent most of his days. You will come across many archives of Krakow, Paris and Warsaw in Zamoyski's pursuit of knowledge. This has resulted in a biographical account of complete authority about a man of sensitive intelligence. He was a genius when it came to musical innovation. Heinrich Heine has labelled Chopin as `a man made for intimacy'. An interesting anecdote in this account is of George Sand. She wrote, "A great piece of news is that Little Chip-Chip is going to give a great concert; He does not want any posters and any programmes; he does not want anyone to talk about it. He is afraid of so many things that I have suggested he go ahead and play without candles and without an audience on a muted piano." This was written in 1841 by a cigar smoking Sand. Chopin was a child prodigy and was an inspired improviser. The extraordinary musicality of Chopin is something that the world needs a constant reminder of. Performance of his music has become a routine now but that cannot blind the world to the revolutionary and its unique qualities. Many of the new piano prodigies can rattle off his etudes with ease and it is in times like these that we need to understand the man behind the music, as brought out poetically by Adam Zamoyski.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Python around the Holy Grail

Masterpiece! I saw this film in the College Town Cinema of Glassboro in 1975 and after thirty nine years, I can safely say that it is indeed a cult classic. It will bust your guts as it is a dynamite of unheard of humour. This group is made up of geniuses. Right from its opening collage of titles in various languages to the arrest of the entire Dark Ages crew by current day bobbies has made this unique in its expression of biting humour. This production comes down hard on English dynasties and reverence of both Protestant and Catholic rituals. The pythons have really put their fangs through the legends of King Arthur with their one-liners and slapstick. The Knights of the Round Table go out in pursuit of the Holy Grail on foot and you will fall off your seat when you hear the sounds of the horses' hooves with lackeys making sound with coconut shells like clippety clop. The plague ridden communities with phrases like `bring out your dead' is extremely hilarious with healthy citizens also being thrown on to the pile of dead bodies. Taunts like `I will fart in your general direction' and `I will wave my private parts at your aunties' are simply mind-blowing additions. The cinematic style is surreal while being outrageously stunning its visuals. The members of the Monty Python Group have to be lauded and acknowledged and they are - John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman and Terry Jones. Jack Trombey has written the fantastic and epic music to this zany masterpiece. http://youtu.be/PHDycUXzNs0

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Aronofsky's Noah

Such an important event in the history of the world has been treated as a personalized and whimsical account by Aronofsky. It could have worked well if it was the case of Odette and Odile and shades of good and evil in the Black Swan. It does not work when you are narrating the story of Noah. The small version by John Huston in the sixties' film, `the Bible' was the best account of Noah I have seen so far. I expected too much out of this film and I wanted to see the conflict and persecution that Noah went through with the external mockers and from within his own family. It was skimmed through with indifference. The only thing that seemed important to Aronofsky was the twins his adopted daughter gives birth to and the rock angel protectors instead of the immense magnitude of the flood itself and the inner conflict of Noah. I have been disappointed with a waste of such talented cast, Included Hopkins as Methusaleh. Music by Clint Mansell is average.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Symphony in C Minor by Edvard Grieg

http://youtu.be/JFJV4Wrva8I Grieg himself did not promote this lovely symphony during his lifetime. The world renowned conductors also did not bother much about it. But any steadfast music proponent would at least give it a thought and include it in the regular repertoire. I consider it a decent symphony. It should be considered a great find. It has all the freshness as you can expect of a Norwegian fjord. Grieg wrote this symphony when he was twenty one. He had written later to his friends that they should not bother about this symphony and that it should never be performed. The symphony had a good sleep for one hundred and twenty years. Contrary to Grieg's beliefs, the symphony is not barely out of school or clumsy and not Norwegian enough. There is an influence of Beethoven in the style along with that of the musical styles of Mendelssohn and Schumann. It also has phases of the style of Niels Gade. There is youthful ebullience in it. Bjarte Engeset and Malmo Orchestra brought this symphony out of its slumber in 1984. The symphony opens with some charming melodies and few heroic marches. There are romantic themes in the Adagio with its tenderness followed by an intermezzo which is rustic sounding and the finale is joyful. Throughout the symphony, there are some harmonic shifts that are subtle with various colour nuances. It can safely be added to all the great symphonies in the archive.

Monday, September 1, 2014


http://youtu.be/I6gnEAtsUIs Sergei Taneyev's opera, Oresteia, is a unique opera. You will not find any love interest or hidden sexual passion. The motivation for Agamemnon's murder and the way Atreid curse is effected in this music drama portrays pure evil with vendetta and discord. This is a mammoth work based on Aeschylus' trilogy.The music is brilliant and original. The influence of Tchaikovsky is evident in the score. Melodic invention is given the momentum. Taneyev also used Wagner as a model when using the leitmotifs in the drama. He brought about the effect of abstraction by using counterpoint in a powerful and narrative way on the stage. Taneyev is also popularly known in conservatory circles as the Russian Bach. He uses short and repeated phrases which resemble the style of Anton Bruckner. Taneyev took seven years to complete this opera.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bernstein rehearses Mahler

http://youtu.be/UvBbe8Nkgz8 It is a wonderful experience to hear and see Leonard Bernstein rehearse the music of Gustav Mahler with The Vienna Philharmonic. It is as if the spirit of Gustav Mahler himself has taken over Bernstein when he discourses the intricate nuances. No one will be able to point a finger at Bernstein of not giving his all when interpreting he intentions of this great composer. These rehearsal are a real testament to the technique of real conducting with the blood and sweat that goes in it. There are tears also involved in what Bernstein gives to bring the music of Mahler to life. Bernstein drives the Vienna Philharmonic to summon the Mahlerian landscapes and set them aflame in the lofty climaxes with an involvement and a commitment that can be a discovery for many listeners who are just entering into Mahler's music. If you have not experienced these rehearsals, do so without hesitation. Bernstein is a perfect Mahlerite. He lives through each performance. It is exciting to watch Bernstein's emotionalism during these rehearsals and see him letting himself go over these performances.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BBC Great Composer Series on Gustav Mahler

http://youtu.be/OnBNFRzdkIM It is now 154 years. Gustav Mahler was born on 7th July 1860. One of the greatest composers the world has seen , particularly in the symphonic genre. He was also the leading conductor in his days. He was born a Jew in Kalischt in Bohemia , Austria. He grew up in Iglau. His music was a bridge between the nineteenth-century Austro-German school and the modern composers of the early twentieth century. His music gained popularity after a considerable period of neglect in the first four decades after his death in 1911. Leonard Bernstein was the pioneer who made his music popular by coming out with the first recorded cycle of his symphonies with the New York Philharmonic. His music was repressed during the Nazi regime in Germany. Today, he is a frequently performed composer. http://youtu.be/HS97YMN5Y0Q Gustav Mahler gave his first piano recital at the age of ten. Mahler joined the Conservatory at Wien and soon became a devotee of Wagner’s music, a supporter of the music of Anton Bruckner and Nietzsche’s philosophy.In 1878, he began his first major work, Das Klagende Lied (‘The Song of Sorrow’).Mahler’s career as a conductor began by conducting operettas at the Austrian provincial theatre of Bad Hall. Mahler went to New York to make his Metropolitan Opera debut on 1 January 1908 and become conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1909. He returned to Vienna the next year on account of a heart ailment he had developed and that finally killed him in 1911. He gave to the world in his fifty years what I could not have given even with thousand years of technique and experience. Though Mahler was a post-Wagnerian Romantic, he became increasingly modern and had a deep impact on most composers such as Schoenberg, Berg, Shostakovich, Britten Henze and Boulez; they have all acknowledged their debt to this great symphonist.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Best Band that ever was

We have to travel back in time.. for five decades. A band started playing in Liverpool, England. This music group changed the world of pop and rock n roll forever. Not only England, the Beatles rocked the United States of America after they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. More than seventy million people watched the television debut of the Fabulous Four in the United States; this is a figure which has not been surpassed by any scheduled television broadcast in the U.S. since then. It was 9th February, 1964. America met the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. When Capitol Records (An American subdivision of EMI) released the album, `I want to hold your hand', the Beatles had their first U.S. #1 hit. Over three thousand fans went to greet the Fabulous Four at the airport when they arrived in New York City. The Ed Sullivan Show, however, gave the seal of approval on what happened to the Beatles in America. Not everybody who watched the show became a convert or a Beatles' fan but the viewers knew that pop music and rock-n-roll has seen a new revolution. Their first film, `A Hard Day's Night', began shooting soon after they returned to England. It was a self portrayal of the kind of the life they were leading. The Beatles stopped touring a couple of years later in 1966. Television became the major vehicle for their appearance. `All you need is love' was a worldwide satellite telecast in 1967. They visited New York City again in 1968 and appeared on the Tonight Show to announce the beginning of the recording label, `Apple'. Later, `Magical Mystery Tour' became a BBC Christmas Special before it became a film in the US. All these albums have become an institution in themselves. It is very difficult to understate the influence and the importance of this one band on the world of folk music. There will be no denying the fact that Beatles are the greatest music band of all times.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Black Swan

http://youtu.be/5jaI1XOB-bs Darren Aronofsky shows the dual nature of life as portrayed by the black swan in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Ballet. He suggests that the search for perfection may not always be healthy for people. But, it has resulted in an almost perfect film where Natalie Portman is great and has earned the best actress award in 2011. She is well supported by Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder. The background score of Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky is magical and surreal.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Last King of Scotland

I have seen it yesterday. Forest Whitaker fully deserves the best actor Oscar. This film is based on the events during 1971 to 1978 during the regime of the Ugandan ruler, Idi Amin. I have seen some pictures of Idi Amin Dada and some videos too and I am impressed by Whitaker's get up and performance. Nice direction by Kevin MacDonald. The film covers scenes from the perspective of Amin's personal physician, Dr. Nicolas Garrigan, a Scottish doctor, played admirably well by James McAvoy. The support roles of Gillian Anderson and Kerry Washington are also adequate enough. The film covers events of the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin's regime as seen by his personal physician during the 1970s. The music by Alex Heffes is effective, particularly during the torture scenes of Dr. Garrigan at the airport. Most of the film is based on the experiences of a young Scottish doctor who becomes a confidante of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Dr. Garrigan sees Africa as a young enthusiast who is bored of his life in Scotland. He considers it an adventure in Uganda - a playground of experiences. He falls for the charisma of Amin and he is totally oblivious to the atrocities that were being committed in Uganda.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3

The third piano concerto of Beethoven holds an important place among all piano concerti. Beethoven had given credit to Mozart's C Minor twenty fourth piano concerto as a major inspirational force for this C Minor Concerto. This concerto, as Eroica Symphony, broke away from the classic idiom of the first two piano concerti with its melodic force and solo bravura. The initial quiet theme that introduces the concerto arrests the listener with its shape and allows for plenty of elaborative scope. The use of the timpani in the cadenza is also unique. These are the few small things that made this concerto break away from the classical age into the Romantic era where Beethoven wrote the passages according to his dictates and not the limitations of the form and age. http://youtu.be/MotHj6N9dJU

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Roma Symphony of Bizet

http://youtu.be/bdVpty25oMg Thanks to Unsung Masterwork; we have a recorded version here. Bizet won the Prix de Rome in 1857. This required him to spend the next couple of years at the French Academy in Rome, followed by a year of study in Germany. He also did some touring through Italy, seeing places that he had not visited in his earlier travels in 1858 and 1859. In Rimini, he got the idea for this symphony. He made some sketches but had to leave them incomplete as his mother passed away and he had to rush back to Paris. The Symphony in C "Roma" is the second symphony written by Bizet. This is also in the key of C Major as his earlier symphony which he wrote as a student at age seventeen. Roma was written with plenty of interruptions between 1860 and 1871.Bizet was not too satisfied with it and made many revisions.All four movements were performed in his lifetime, but never on the same occasion. The full symphony in its latest revision was performed in 1875, after his death. This is the famous C Major Symphony performed brilliantly by Georges Pretre and the Wiener Philharmoniker. http://youtu.be/9ivswqCWIQU The Symphony in C is an early work by Bizet. For a student just seventeen years of age, it is a marvel of melodic invention and extraordinary handling of themes in the orchestration. It was written while he was a student at the Paris Conservatoire under Charles Gounod. It was an assignment. Bizet's creative work in his life was cut short by a premature death. He died of heart failure at the age of thirty six. Well, Mozart too was on earth for a period of only thirty five years. Both are extraordinary musicians, extremely gifted and talented.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

An Epic Messe Sollenelle by Louis Vierne

http://youtu.be/-zjlRHP0tjk Even in the world of classical music, not many people would have heard of Louis Vierne. Today, I came across his magnificent Messe Sollenelle written for two choirs and an omnipresent organ. I am going to explore all his organ symphonies very soon. I was reading about his life and what hit me most was the moment of his death. Vierne was the principal organist at the Cathedrale de Notre Dame in Paris for most of his sixty seven years in his life. He died while giving his one thousand seven hundred and fiftieth recital on 2nd June, 1937. Flashback: Despite holding a prestigious post, his personal life was full of turmoil. He had a troubled marriage. His wife left him after few years of marriage. His youngest son passed away from tuberculosis. His brother and his eldest son were killed during the First World War. He suffered with an accident where his leg had to be amputated from the ankle. He had to use wooden supports to retain his pedal technique. He was also born with a congenital cataract problem in one eye. At one point in time, he had to spend six months in a dark room in Switzerland recovering from a surgery which was eventually unsuccessful. In his sixty seventh year, he was a broken and depressed man. While giving his final recital, he felt uneasy and collapsed after playing the last note of the concert and died a few moments later. Vierne had always said to his friends that this is how he hoped he would die, at the keyboard of the pipe organ he loved. The bench that he sat on is on display at the Notre Dame Cathedral to this day. This episode in Vierne's life reminds me of a tango orchestra leader in Argentina who had told his friends that he would die playing his favourite instrument, the bandoneon. The name of that great musician was Anibal Troilo and he died after giving a concert in Buenos Aires.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vox Balaenae

http://youtu.be/9imchw0u6Bc Vox Balaenae - The Voice of the Whale - was written by George Crumb, an American composer. It was premiered by the New York Camerata in 1971. In 1967, it was discovered by biologist Roger Payne that humpback whales actually sing and he published recordings of the vocalizations of whales. It was deemed complex. This helped to trigger the movement to save whales from poachers. I wonder if whales do not have the right to exist without their singing value. This world is mad and greedy. George Crumb was inspired after hearing those whale recordings of Payne but this work does not use those tapes. Crumb has tried to get that effect reproduced in musical form. He has composed this for three masked players who handle electrically amplified piano, flute and cello to generate sounds that bring to mind the images of the sea and the singing of the whales.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Zero Dark Thirty

http://youtu.be/rdvsYgmZ_DU This is a great account of perhaps the most important man hunt in American history which took a decade of patience and plotting and instinctive speculation on part of a focused and obsessive CIA operative. The film covers the Navy SEAL Team 6 operation of May 2011 that killed Usama Bin Laden. Kathryn Bigelow has come out with another thriller after her brilliant `Hurt Locker' which shot Jeremy Renner into fame. This film has another impressive performance by Jessica Chastain as Maya, the CIA operative in Pakistan. This was the best performance by an actress in 2012. She was not even nominated. Meryl Streep was awarded for `The Iron Lady', playing Margaret Thatcher. Maybe, that was an author backed role and the jury tends to tilt towards such performances but Chastain's was the more sensitive one. A great statement by Kathryn Bigelow. She has got style. Chastain was acknowledged by the Broadcast Film Critics Association as the best actress. She is a versatile actress. I was impressed by her performance as Maggie Beauford in `Lawless'. As Maya in this film, she has done a strong portrayal of a stubborn and obstinate CIA operative who targets the couriers that Laden was using while working on a base from Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Twelve Years a Slave

http://youtu.be/8kjIqtta4E0 People who tell me that they came away from the cinemas depressed after seeing this film disappoint me because they have no appreciation of how a statement of truth and circumstances has to be studied in life and absorbed. Cinema is not meaningless entertainment. There are others who have called this film `a torture porn'. Such degenerates have to know what a good book or a good cinema is compared with the junk that they see on the torture porn sites and sado-masochistic websites. Hats off to Brad Pitt for going ahead and producing this film out of the book written by Solomon Northup and how cruel fate was to him in the 1841 Saratoga New York life. He was a free man who was abducted with deceit to be sold in the slave market. He survived for twelve years and this account truly deserves the best picture Oscar. Chiwetel Ejiofor also deserves the best actor. If I were in the jury, I would have given my nod to him than Matthew McConaughey for the Dallas Buyers Club. Hans Zimmer's musical score is riveting and haunting. I would not give much marks to Steve McQueen as a director but Chiwetel added intensity in the film along with Michael Fassbender. Even Brad Pitt is excellent in a couple of scenes in a cameo as Master Bass. This is a vivid tale, told with an amazing emotional intensity.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Solti - A Maestro and a Mephisto

http://youtu.be/2O-ClNBcZF0 A musician has the privilege to kick ass if he is of the calibre of Solti. People romanticise about Beethoven; he would throw a chair or kick the teeth out of your mediocrity. There are few geniuses who have zero tolerance of mediocrity! Solti was born in Budapest in 1912. He studied piano, composition, and conducting with Bartok and Leo Weiner. He made his concert debut as a pianist. The Budapest Opera hired him as a conductor. In 1937, Toscanini selected him to assist at the Salzburg Festival. Before the Second World War broke out, Solti went as a refugee to Switzerland. He played piano again to earn. In 1942, he earned first prize in the Concours International in Geneva. After the war in 1946, the American military government invited him to conduct Beethoven’s Fidelio in Munich. The success of this performance led to his appointment as music director of the Bavarian State Opera. He carried forward the reputation of the Opera Company for the period of next six years. In 1952, Solti accepted took over as artistic and music director of the Frankfurt City Opera. He worked there for nine years. From 1961, he became music director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and stayed there for a decade. He recorded the entire Ring with the Vienna Philharmonic, a historic undertaking which required seven years to complete and was the first complete studio recording. I personally feel that this Ring recorded in the sixties and Mahler's `Symphony of a Thousand' remain as definitive recordings of these works. Solti received knighthood in 1972 for his outstanding contribution to music. He was also honoured with a lifetime achievement award in 1996, one year before his death from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Solti has won thirty one Grammy awards. This is probably more than any other popular or classical recording artist.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Spy who came in from the Cold

The film holds you from the very first frame with the excellent music by Sol Kaplan and the strains of alto saxophone. The film is made on the exciting novel of John Le Carre. Richard Burton deserved an Oscar for his performance here as a disillusioned and dispirited British agent. He is made to act as an undercover agent behind the Iron Curtain - East Germany. His defection is staged but it goes sour as he is arrested and humiliated. He is actually used as a pawn to get a double agent reinstated in Berlin. The camera work by Oswald Morris creates an impact on the film in black and white. The film is very well directed by Martin Ritt. Claire Bloom plays a British communist who loves Alec Leamus (Burton)during the undercover operation phase. The double crosses are so well plotted by Le Carre who also wrote the screenplay for the film. Oskar Werner has played well as Fiedler and so has Peter Van Eyck as Hans Dieter Mundt.

Passions of Ralph Vaughan Williams

http://youtu.be/mUjWo-diK-Y ) This film was screened on the BBC Television in 2008 and a book has also been published describing the passion of Ralph Vaughan Williams with women that he was connected with during his life and the influence it had on his creative compositions and the ideas that were translated into musical thoughts. This is a brilliant documentary done by John Bridcut, giving details about Vaughan Williams' marriage to his disabled wife Adeline and his affair with the woman who became his second wife, Ursula. Bridcut neatly explains the effect these relationships had on the music and demonstrates this by playing some performances of his choral and orchestral works. The film was sot at Cadogan Hall in London and the music is covered by the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, directed by Richard Hickox. The singers are of the Schola Cantorum of Oxford. Among the contributors to this film is the (late) Ursula Vaughan Williams, who was interviewed shortly before she died at the age of 96 in 2008. Once you are through with the film, listen to his Pastoral Symphony. Here is his Third Symphony (called Pastoral) http://youtu.be/cd3nWm2PitI

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anne of the Thousand Days

I was only eleven when I first saw this film in Regal Cinema in Bombay and the film left a spell on me. I could not forget the mesmerising beauty of Genevieve Bujold who plays Anne Boleyn and the majestic performance of Richard Burton who plays Henry VIII. The film is another version of `A Man for All Seasons' but it concentrates more on the King and Anne than on Sir Thomas More, the Chancellor of the Realm. Excellent Music by Georges Dolorue. http://putlocker.bz/watch-anne-of-the-thousand-days-online-free-putlocker.html

An Unexpected Journey

What a trilogy to look forward to!... It has been fifteen years since the drama started with the Fellowship of the Ring and there is still one more to be completed in the Hobbit Tale ...
http://youtu.be/gjASGHl4Q-k This is a visual spectacle which is not easy to beat; and the same can be said about the other four mighty creations by Jackson on the Tolkien sagas of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Wagner Tannhauser Colin Davis

http://youtu.be/8du71AE0h6o I have always wanted to hear Colin Davis perform a wagner opera. I definitely did not look forward to anyone interpreting Der Ring Des Nibelungen trilogy because, try as anyone might, they will be insipid when compared with Solti. Tannhauser is one opera I wanted to try out Colin Davis and I was not disappointed. It was electrifying from the very first strains of the overture. Colin Davis has the definitive performance on record for Berlioz's Les Troyens and for Mozart's Die Zauberflote. No conductor has done a better job than him on these two operas. This is the Paris Version which was revised fifteen years after the Dresden original. The Venusberg music is soul stirring. Davis is superb in his reading. My personal favourite is Zubin Mehta and the Munchen Oper. When I saw it on the DVD, the Venusberg scenes look supernatural. The singers have also done a great job. Spas Wenkoff has done admirably as Tannhauser. He is dramatic and also has a good voice. Bernd Weikl is also an excellent Wolfram. Gwyneth Jones is the scene stealer as both Elizabeth and Venus. She looks like an accomplished film actress when going through her parts. After Zubin Mehta, this may be the Tannhauser to listen to.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Man for All Seasons

Highly recommended 1966 masterpiece for Scofield's brilliant portrayal of Sir Thomas More. Excellent music by Georges Dolorue and capable support by Robert Shaw as Henry VIII and Leo McKern as Thomas Cromwell. Zinnemann's masterpiece covers how More stood up to the monarchy and against it during the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.. alienation with the Roman Church and the pursuit of false loyalty..the film also drives home the importance of what an oath means to a believer.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Coppelia Delibes

http://youtu.be/SfE08ueLkYY Léo Delibes studied at Paris Conservatoire, and he was an average student. His first major success was achieved with the ballet Coppélia which was based on a story by ETA Hoffmann. The ballet was staged in 1870. He excelled as an operetta composer and his career expanded with the success of Lakme. Coppelia is about Dr. Coppelius and his doll Coppélia which comes to life one day. Delibes followed Coppelia in 1876 with Sylvia,a story that is set in pagan Greece. The 1866 ballet La Source had given Delibes an earlier acclaim in partnership with the established composer Minkus. Delibes’s last opera, Kassya, was orchestrated by Massenet after the composer’s death.