Category Archives: Music

Headline of the day II: More batshit craziness

From the London Daily Mail, reporting on a hateful huckster who played host to Ted Cruz, Mike Hukeabee, and Bobby Jindal:

Bataclan massacre was a ‘message from God’, claims pastor who hosted Republican candidates’ conference, because murdered rock fans were ‘devil worshippers’

  • Pastor Kevin Swanson says Bataclan massacre was ‘message from God’
  • Claims 89 rock fans who were killed in the attack were ‘devil worshippers’
  • Accuses both concertgoers and Islamic State terrorists of being ‘sinners’
  • Massacre on November 13 was one of a series of deadly attacks in Paris
  • Swanson has previously said gays should be handed the death penalty

And now for something completely different. . .

We begin with a Canadian love story, starring a log driver, a member of that remarkably agile class of loggers whose specialty is preventing logs from bunching up and snarling the progress of other logs as they are driver downriver to lumber mills.

Augmenting the song is an animation, and the whole package has made the cartoon short one of the most-requested offerings from the the National Film Board of Canada:

Canada Vignettes: Log Driver’s Waltz

Program notes:

This lighthearted, animated short is based on the song “The Log Driver’s Waltz” by Wade Hemsworth. Easily one of the most often-requested films in the NFB collection, Kate and Anna McGarrigle sing along to the tale of a young girl who loves to dance and chooses to marry a log driver over his more well-to-do competitor. Driving logs down the river has made the young man the best dancing partner to be found.

Directed by John Weldon – 1979

And we could hardly offer a song about Canadian loggers without adding a very famous song from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, from whom we’ve also taken the title of our regular feature:

Monty Python- Lumberjack Song

And while we’re at it, how about a rendering of the Python favorite in German, a language to which it seems remarkably suited:

And now for something completely different. . .

The late Scottish-born Canadian animator Norman McLaren pioneered or refined many of the forms of animation we take for granted today, and much of his best work was done for the National Film Board of Canada, one of the greatest nurturing institutions in the history of film and video animation.

Bring together the talents of McLaren and another Canadian genius, pianist supreme Glenn Gould, then throw in one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s greatest compositions, and a work of singular magic is assured.

Do pop the video up to high resolution, turn off Annotations to get rid of that annoying logo, then pop it up to full screen and sit back and enjoy.

From the National Film Board of Canada:


Program notes, from a Google translation from the French:

Animated short film by Norman McLaren and René Jodoin. In a kind of playful movement, white spheres in a colorful sky. These spheres are aligned, are grouped and multiply, sometimes colliding against each other. At the piano, Glenn Gould performs excerpts from the “Well-Tempered Clavier” by Bach and gives the film its rhythm and pace that characterizes it.

Pete Seeger as you’ve never heard him

For folks of esnl’s generation, Pete Seeger was the radical folk singer, the balladeer of the anti-Vietnam war and civil rights movements, best know for such works as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “If I Had a Hammer.” and “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.”

But there was another side to Pete Seeger, which we just discovered while perusing the wonderful collection of offerings recently posted to YouTube by the National Film Board of Canada.

Working with two of Canada’s premier animators, Seeger composed the instrumental music for the following film short, and it is both powerfully and simply delightful.

So sit back and enjoy, via the National Film Board of Canada:

Lines Horizontal

Program notes:

Lines – Horizontal is accompanied by American folk musician Pete Seeger on wind and string instruments.

An experiment in pure design by film artists Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart. Lines, ruled directly on film, move with precision and grace against a background of changing colors, in response to music specially composed for the films.

Directed by Evelyn Lambart & Norman McLaren – 1962

And now for something completely different. . .

Leave it to a Japanese distiller to come up with a new way to perform a Mozart Minuet, specifically the Minuet from his Divertimento No.17 In D Major [K. 344].

Moreover, instead of a performance with the usual orchestral instruments, the folks at Suntory used a combination of coins, liquid-filled beakers, and tightly timed electrical shocks to the arms of 43 guys in lab coats condense the composition down into a mere two cacaphonous seconds, all captured at the equivalent of a thousand video frames a second.

Only when the video is slowed down do the notes and melody become distinct.

While Suntory went to all this trouble to promote its Shuchu Regain energy, the video most assuredly qualifies something completely different.

From Suntory:

The Extreme Minuet: World’s Fastest Orchestra

Program notes:

World’s fastest coin-toss orchestra of 43 people in extreme concentration!

43 beakers lined up, each with meticulously filled water to create a music scale.

Six meters away from the beakers is a research staff of 43 people with coins in hand.

The ultimate concentration. The intense instant. Then, the coins are tossed out swiftly.

For a more conventional rendering of ol’‘ Wolfgang’s composition, here’s a German performance by violinist Tim Ziegler and pianist Wolfgang Ziegler:

Mozart Menuett aus einem Divertimento KV 344

Viennese chamber music, performed at its best

The La Jolla Music Society’s annual SummerFest brings together some of the finest classical musicians in world every August, and thanks toi University of California Television, a media partner in the event, we’re able to bring you three excellent performances of chamber music.

Composed for the intimacy of the residential chambers of the nobility rather than for the large concert halls of the day, the pieces feature smaller groups of performers and showcase individual instruments rather than large emsembles embodied by the symphony orchestra.

The following video features three performances of the works of a trio of famous Viennese composers, wonderfully videographed.

For your enjoyment, via UCTV:

Viennese Masters – La Jolla Music Society SummerFest 2015

Program notes:

BEETHOVEN: Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola, Op. 25
Catherine Ransom Karoly, flute
Augustin Hadelich, violin
Ori Kam, viola

SCHUBERT: String Quartet in A Minor, D.804
Escher String Quartet

BRAHMS: String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 18
Cho-Liang Lin, violin
Kyoko Takezawa, violin
Toby Hoffman, viola
Heiichiro Ohyama, viola
Gary Hoffman, cello
Joshua Roman, cello

More on the compositions and their composers here.

Ottorino Respighi gets the Eastern treatment

While Italian composer Ottorino Respighi is best remembered as the composer of three tone poems celebrating the Italian capital’s ancient history, he also had an Eastern connection, launching his career in 1899 with an appointment as principal violist to the Russian Imperial Theater in the then-capital city of St. Petersburg.

So, rather than seek out performances by better-known Western conductors and orchestras, we decided to look for some Eastern European performances of his tone poems and came up with three different orchestras, one Polish, the second Slovenian, and the third Romanian.

First up, a 2011 performance of the 1916 composition The Fountains of Rome from Poland’s Philharmonia Podkarpacka conducted by Andris Rasmanis, via Andris Rasmanis:

Ottorino Respighi Fontane di Roma

Next, via zevnikov, a 2013 Slovenian orchestral performance, conducted by Nejc Becan, of the 1924 tone poem The Pines of Rome [Pini di Romani]:

Respighi – Pines of Rome with standing ovation!!!

Program notes:

Gimnazija Kranj Great Christmas Concert 2013 “Postcards from Italy.” Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra performed Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

Amazing performance in Gallus Hall, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Conductor maestro Nejc Becan; Concert master: Nina Pirc; Sound engineer: Matjaž Culiberg; Head of Production: Grega Jeraša; Director: Primož Zevnik.

Finally, a 2013 performance of the Respighi’s third tone poem, Roman Festivals, completed in 1928 and here featuring Jin Wang conducting the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra of Bucharest, Romania. Via SuperPromo4you:

Jin Wang – Ottorino Respighi – Feste Romane – “George Enescu” Philharmonic Orchestra

Program notes:

Ottorino Respighi – Feste Romane 24ian2013 – live in Atheneum of Bucharest