Getting on the Boom bandwagon

If you want to read a great classical music blog that emphasizes modern music, your search is over. Check out the Boom’s Dungeon blog.

The blog makes available recordings of music, often in FLAC format, that serious listeners might be interested in. Typically these are live recordings, but a few out of print LP recordings also are offered. Boom, as the blogger calls himself, never circulates commercially available recordings, i.e. he’s not a pirate.

This would be cool enough, but what makes Boom’s Dungeon a joy to read is the often funny and always biting writing, which sometimes veers away from music criticism. Here’s are the first couple of graphs from an Oct. 1 posting about pianist Till Fellner:

Years ago I had  what must have been a Perfect Girlfriend: she was good looking, young (early twenties), intelligent (earned a Ph.D. from a top school a few years later), erudite in the visual arts, and musically informed.  She also was honest, kind,  and optimistic.  Not once did she have a headache or lose her temper fighting traffic on LA freeways.  I also could add that occasionally she would rebuild a carburetor as a pleasant diversion from writing her M.A. thesis, but I won’t because then you’ll be convinced that I’m shitting you.  (I am not!)
Despite my Perfect Girlfriend’s long list of virtues, what I remember most vividly about the time I spent with her is my persistent feeling of boredom.  She had everything I could ever ask for in a woman except personality.  There was something so anonymous about her that when our relationship ended I only felt a sense of relief as I went back to dating cynical secretaries, neurotic two-bit actresses, disillusioned MILFs, and tattooed heavy metal chicks – all so abundantly distributed along the coast of Southern California as if God himself wanted to make life easy for a young guy of modest means and immodest libido.  






Lara Downes: ’13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg’

The new Lara Downes album, 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg, is built around the title work, a group of thirteen compositions inspired by JSB’s Goldberg Variations. The contributors include the likes of Jennifer Higdon, William Bolcom, David Del Tredici, Fred Hersch, Lukas Foss and Bright Sheng. One of my favorite pieces is from a composer I was not familiar with before, Fred Lerdahl. His Chasing Goldberg, although played on acoustic piano like the other pieces, reminds me of the old Walter/Wendy Carlos Switched on Bach album I heard in college. Bach arias from Goldberg bookend the 13. Downes rounds out the album with Dave Brubeck and Lucas Foss pieces inspired by Bach and a Bach Sarabande from French Suite V, BMV 816, which Downes learned to play when she was 7.

13 Ways was commissioned in 2004. Downes did not have a hand in that but apparently was the first recording artist to realize it could form the heart of a good album. Recommended, and it’s something you could get away with playing when somebody who isn’t into modern classical is around.

A Wallace Stevens synchronicity

Your humble blogger occasionally is offered a music CD for review. About a week ago, two CDs arrived in the mail: “13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg” from pianist Lara Downes, and “Lonely Motel: Music From Slide” by the group eighth blackbird.

I didn’t realize what an odd coincidence that was until I looked at Downes more closely. The bulk of the album is 13 new compositions commissioned in 2004 inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations. “13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg” takes its title from Wallace Stevens’ “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

The band eighth blackbird takes its name from the same poem.

More soon on both albums.