Vilde Frang Plays Sinfonia Concertante

Never been the biggest Mozart fan, but the Sinfonia Concertante has always been a favorite.  The Allegro is a non-stop geyser of coruscating musical invention that will make your heart race. And what a performance by Vilde Frang and Nils Mönkemeyer and the Basel Chamber Orchestra.

Kikagaku Moyo on Their Name

Interview by Aquarium Drunkard:

AD The band name, my friend was saying, means mathematical patterns.

Kikagaku Moyo: Geometric.

AD Geometric patterns. Which is funny, because you think of these bands that can play math rock and that’s not what y’all are doing at all.

Kikagaku Moyo: [Laughs] Yea. Cause we were playing jam all the time at night. That’s the only time we could play long hours because you have to pay so much money in day time. As I said, a friend was working in a studio so we could go only the night, from midnight to 7am. [Laughs] So we were super tired. Working and then going to the studio. Jam. We cannot do so much stuff…just playing one note. [Laughs] Then make it really dark. And then we start feeling sleepy but you know like when you see noise show, whoever plays music in the last seems like “I am most musician.” [Laugh] Whoever quit first and looked around is losing. You have to be the last one who is making noise. It was like that. So even when you were so tired, you still play. And I started seeing visuals. Cause it’s dark and you cannot see. So everyone is closing their eyes. And I’m seeing all the patterns in my eye. So I shared the experience and it was like “Okay let’s make Geometric Patterns the band’s name.”

An American in Berghain

Schlecky Silberstein stumbled upon this instant Internet classic — an American from San Antonio decides on the spur of the moment to visit legendary Berlin nightclub Berghain and, as his Yelp review indicates, is scarred for life. I'm putting it after the fold because, well, this is Berghain we're talking about. You've been warned.

Here's the text of the review, link to original below:

Please excuse the long review, but I'm going to share with you my experience at Berghain. I was in Berlin a couple weeks ago and I was sitting in my hotel bar. I started chatting with a couple guys from London. They seemed normal and told me they were getting ready to head to the worlds coolest night club. I figure it's Saturday night…what the hell. So I ask them if I can tag along. They said no problem. One of them informs me that I should probably change clothes because this place is hard to get into, but they had a connection. They recommended that I go change into black, simple clothes. No buttons on the shirts and no hoodies. They said if I had a black scarf, that would be awesome. Said the door guy loves scarves and black clothes. So I go change and come back down to the lobby. We hail a cab and are now off to this place called Berghain.

Upon arriving…I see this super long line that's leading into what looks like a commercial building of some sort. I'd liken it to a warehouse. It's not inviting at all. The guys from London tell me we are going to cut in line. While we are standing there looking for the spot to cut, I take out my phone to check Facebook. One of the London guys goes into a rage and starts cussing me out and grabs my phone. Yelling…"DON'T LOOK AT YOUR PHONE. DON'T USE IT!" "THEY WON'T LET US IN!"…Anyway…we get to the front of the line and there's this creepy looking, older guy with ear rings–face tats and spikes in his lips. Supposedly he's some type of guru in the club scene. He's a weird guy and yes he had a scarf on. He looks me up and down and then waves us in using his pinky…Now things are about to get really weird.

Once inside, the music is blasting too loud. You could feel it in your chest. I thought the bass was going to set my heart off rhythm. I tell the two guys from London…"Let's go get a beer!"…They look at me like I am crazy. They offer me these strange looking little pills and I pass. No drugs for me. They both pop them and then start making out! I'm not talking about a little kiss or a peck, I'm talking open-mouth, tongue kissing. It was very aggressive/disturbing kissing. I didn't even know these dudes were gay! I look around and there are 3 or 4 naked guys dancing all crazy with erections. I decide to go get a beer and I tell myself—maybe I'm in the wrong part of the club? Maybe this is the gay section. Nope. The whole club is the gay section!

On the way to grab a beer, I pass in disbelief, a bearded guy butt fucking the crap out of another bearded dude. You could smell feces and sweat. I take my eyes off of that situation and it only gets worse. There's another guy, and I kid you not…he's got his arm, almost to his elbow, up another guys ass! I thought it was a magic trick or an illusion. It WASN'T! The guy that's basically getting impaled is enjoying it! I saw one guy getting tag teamed (double penetration style) by 2 guys! I said to hell with this…I'm out of here! As I'm leaving, I remember that one of those Londoner's has my phone. So I need to go to find him.

Now there are naked guys everywhere! Sucking each other off. Fisting each other. There was one dude that was riding another guy (cowgirl style) and yelling "Balles Tief!" "Balles Tief!"…I ask the dude next to me…"What's he screamin?!"…He informs "Balles Tief" is German for "Balls Deep"…

This Nazi looking guy comes up to me with a syringe and acts like he's going to stick me with it. I jump back and think about beating the shit out of him and he starts laughing and in very bad English says "You vant chemical to keep wake and make you high?"…As I'm saying "NO!"…a loud siren/whistle starts blowing and the whole club starts going bananas! I ask this guy who looks like a vampire…"What the hell is that? Is there a fire or terrorist or something?"…He does this weird  giggle and say's the siren means it's "Slip and Slide time!"…100's of guys, the ones that aren't already naked, drop there pants and start masturbating on the dance floor. Evidently, you are supposed to ejaculate on the floor and make it slippy and then naked guys go sliding through it! WTF! I look back and that vampire looking dude is jerking off in my direction. I throw a beer bottle at him and start hauling ass out of there.

I run past this one guy that seems to be injured and he's asking for help. I'm a pretty nice guy, so I ask what happened. He bends over and you can see this silicone/rubber looking object barely protruding out of his butt. You could barely see it. He then explains that he had shoved a rubber arm with fist up there and it was stuck! This guy thinks I'm going to help pull it out?!? Get the fuck out of here!

I finally get to the exit and I yell to that weirdo door man "YOU SICK BASTARD!"…I hail a cab and make it back to my hotel. That was my experience at the "worlds coolest night club"..I can handle a lot of stuff, but this place was WAY over the top. I will not be back. Never.

Read Kyle W.'s review of Berghain on Yelp
https://www.yelp.com/embed/widgets.js

Germany’s Most Popular Operas

Via slipped disc:

From 2014/15 Deutsche Bühnenverein statistics, just released:

1 La Traviata (Verdi)                31 productions, 286 performances

2 Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)     30 productions, 285 performances

3 Carmen (Bizet)                       26 productions, 247 performances

4 Hansel und Gretel (Humperdinck)                   207 performances

Magic Flute and H&G are targeted at children and Christmas audiences. So, no surprises here.

Among more recent works, Peter Grimes (Britten) had 35 performances and The Rake’s Progress (Stravinsky) 30.

 

Ensemble Pygmalion Plays the St. Matthew Passion

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La Passion selon St Matthieu de Bach par Raphaël Pichon

One of my first Bach recordings, and one which I still have, is the B Minor Mass performed by Joshua Rifkin and the Bach Ensemble. Rifkin insisted that Bach's choral works were intended to be sung with one singer to a part. The result was light, feathery, transparent. Every other performance I'd hear sounded clogged and soupy by comparison. But haters still reject Rifkin's purism. They insist that although Bach only had limited space and personnel at his disposal, he would probably have welcomed greater forces to perform his choral masterworks, and composed them with this aspiration in mind. And I have to admit, Rifkin's recording often sounds a bit underpowered.

And now Ensemble Pygmalion has come along, a new original-instruments baroque ensemble from France. I had the good fortune to see them live last Thursday in the Cologne Philharmonic, performing the St. Matthew Passion. And a stellar performance it was. The strings sounded crisp and robust for historical instruments, with secure intonation. The chorus was modest — about 20 singers in all, many of whom peeled off from the group to come to the fore and sing arias. The balance was ideal: Just enough singers to provide a real bite to the choral interjections, but not so many as to obscure contrapuntal lines. The instrumental soloists were all solid, especially the viola da gamba player, who sawed out an electrifying accompaniment. The tempi were crisp but not hasty, pretty much perfectly judged. And the Evangelist was nothing short of stunning, declaiming with absolute conviction.

You can judge for yourself: Directly after performing in Cologne, they did the St. Matthew in Versailles, and French TV has made it available to all on the web.

Trigger warning: I'm about to criticize Bach. Don't clutch your pearls. In the immortal words of Primus, they can't all be zingers. And the St. Matthew, if you ask me, ain't no zinger, at least not all the way through. The second half especially features some long and, if you ask me, pretty tedious arias. Many of the most ingenious ideas — budding choral fugues, appealing melodies in the obbligato to the Evangelist's recitative — are cut short by the demands of the text or of forward plot motion before they can really develop. And then comes another seemingly 14-minute setting of 5 lines of charming but mediocre poetry by Picador.

Come on, admit it: You've checked your watch one hour into Part II of the St. Matthew. But not when Pygmalion sings it. The musicianship invested even the tedious stretches with enough verve and energy to keep me awake. And made the many good bits sublime. Their recording of the short masses by Bach is stellar, go buy it now. And if they perform anywhere near you, don't miss them.

 

Georg Friedrich Haas and His ‘Perverted Negress’

The New York Time profiles Haas, an Austrian composer (and an interesting one), and his wife, Mollena Williams-Haas, a/k/a The Perverted Negress:

Waking-Dreams

And now to the article, which I'm just going to leave here:

The Austrian-born Mr. Haas, 62, a music professor at Columbia University since 2013, has recently been increasingly open about the unusual nature of his marriage, which he says has dramatically improved his productivity and reshaped his artistic outlook. He will be the subject of a two-concert American Immersion series on Wednesday and Friday presented by the Austrian Cultural Forum, which includes the American premiere of his “I can’t breathe,” a dirgelike solo trumpet memorial to Eric Garner.

In a joint appearance with his wife, who now goes by Mollena Williams-Haas, late last year at the Playground sexuality conference in Toronto, then in an interview this month in the online music magazine VAN, he has “come out,” as he put it, as the dominant figure in a dominant-submissive power dynamic. Mr. Haas has chosen to speak up, both because Ms. Williams-Haas’s sexual interests are widely known (her blog, The Perverted Negress, is not shy about kink and bondage) and because he hopes to embolden younger people, particularly composers, not to smother untraditional urges, as he did.

The fundamental feature of their relationship is not obviously sexual, Mr. Haas and Ms. Williams-Haas, 46, said in an interview at their airy apartment near Columbia, with expansive views of the Hudson River. “It’s not caning,” he said. “It’s the fact that I need someone who is with me when I work.”

Their marriage can seem, in this regard, distinctly old-fashioned, and not in a Marquis de Sade way. While the terms they negotiated at the start of their relationship do not prevent her from pursuing her own professional and personal life, Ms. Williams-Haas devotes much of her time to supporting the work of a man — “Herr Meister,” she has nicknamed him — for whom a “good day” is one in which he composes for 14 or 15 hours.