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Thursday, February 10, 2011

NotGraphs: Media eInterviews: Murray Chass

I believe it was Chris Dial that once said he “hates to see bloggers being interviewed threads on Primer”. But with NotBlogger being on NotGraphs, I figgered….

Eno Sarris: What sort of advice do you have for young writers that have just begun pursuing a similar career?

Murray Chass: My advice today is different from what it would have been five years ago. The dramatic decline in newspapers is, of course, the reason. I applaud anyone who wants to become a reporter even in the face of developments. But it’s imperative that anyone who wants to get into the business of journalism studies developments to make sure that what he or she wants is still there.

Online newspapers, or whatever they will be called, will need reporters, but I don’t think the number of reporters who will be needed will be as great. I think hard work and knowledge will still be important because they will translate into better and more acceptable work than the product turned out by someone who sits down at his computer, starts typing and says “I can do this.”

Experience also is important. Get as much as you can reporting and writing.

I must say, however, in all honesty I am glad that I had and finished my career when I did without having to deal with the demise of the newspaper business and the growth of the Internet.

Repoz Posted: February 10, 2011 at 09:00 PM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, history, media, special topics

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   1. The_Ex Posted: February 10, 2011 at 09:35 PM (#3747952)
This was weird, his answer to the highlights question....

Knowing Marvin Miller was a highlight, and having dinner with him on his 93rd birthday was a highlight. Knowing Fay Vincent as commissioner was a highlight because no baseball official exceeded him for honesty and integrity.

The 1989 San Francisco earthquake, hearing Tchaikovsky’s Little Russian Symphony and Mahler’s Titan symphony for the first time at concerts I attended in Toronto and Philadelphia during baseball trips, missing a Broadway show and dinner with my wife and friends New Year’s Eve 1974 while covering the Yankees’ signing of Catfish Hunter, missing Thanksgiving dinner in 1976 working on an exclusive story that the Yankees were on the verge of signing Reggie Jackson, tracking down George Steinbrenner at the “Shack” on the campus of Culver Military Academy, all of this working in my basement office while my wife and relatives ate dinner upstairs.

From a career standpoint, the highlights were my creating the coverage of contracts and salaries (the business of baseball, you could say) and my coverage of baseball labor that set the standard for others to follow in all sports.


It sounds like missing New Years eve and Thanksgiving were highlights.
   2. Lassus Posted: February 10, 2011 at 09:52 PM (#3747968)
I wonder if he saw Ormandy do the Mahler. That would be one less reason to hate Chass, I guess.
   3. tshipman Posted: February 10, 2011 at 09:56 PM (#3747973)
I wonder if he saw Ormandy do the Mahler. That would be one less reason to hate Chass, I guess.


If you ever make it out here, seeing Michael Tilson Thomas conduct Mahler's Second was one of the highlights of my life.
   4. Lassus Posted: February 10, 2011 at 10:17 PM (#3747983)
I watched him as I sang from the chorus in that and the 8th (in the late 90s), if it counts. Best conductor I've ever sung under, laps the field.
   5. JoeC Posted: February 10, 2011 at 10:17 PM (#3747984)
The LA Philharmonic is doing a Mahler symphony cycle next season - which ones should I go see? I'm not much familiar with him... always been more of a later 20th-century guy (Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich, Lou Harrison, Messiaen) whose knowledge of older stuff has weird gaps (e.g. love Beethoven, know little of Mozart).
   6. tshipman Posted: February 10, 2011 at 10:24 PM (#3747993)
Best conductor I've ever sung under, laps the field.


First, of all, I am somewhat in awe, since I love that music, but could probably never sing it in a million years. Second of all, what makes the difference in conductors for you, if you don't mind my asking?

Edit:

The LA Philharmonic is doing a Mahler symphony cycle next season - which ones should I go see? I'm not much familiar with him... always been more of a later 20th-century guy (Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich, Lou Harrison, Messiaen) whose knowledge of older stuff has weird gaps (e.g. love Beethoven, know little of Mozart).


I deeply, deeply love the 2nd and the 6th.
   7. Ray (CTL) Posted: February 10, 2011 at 10:43 PM (#3748012)
Chass speaks better than he writes.
   8. shock Posted: February 10, 2011 at 10:45 PM (#3748014)
all of this working in my basement office while my wife and relatives ate dinner upstairs.


Bahaha!
   9. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: February 10, 2011 at 10:54 PM (#3748021)
Looking back, I can’t imagine what I would have wanted to do differently. One thing: If I had been given the authority to select the sports editors I worked for I would have selected several different ones from those I worked for.

For some reason, this made me smile.
   10. philphan Posted: February 10, 2011 at 10:56 PM (#3748023)
Lassus, I probably shouldn't threaten to derail a perfectly fine Murray Chass snark-fest, but what singing do you do? I'm a (strictly avocational) choral singer in the NY area, and do mostly small-group a capella stuff.
   11. Lassus Posted: February 10, 2011 at 11:48 PM (#3748044)
The LA Philharmonic is doing a Mahler symphony cycle next season - which ones should I go see? I'm not much familiar with him... always been more of a later 20th-century guy.

WELL I'M GLAD YOU ASKED.

Really, I love Mahler, but not everyone does. He writes large over-arching symphonies and symphonic song cycles. If you're unfamiliar, I would suggest seeing the following:

#2 - It has everything. Although it ends on a truly magnificent chorus, that doesn't overpower the piece, which has a wonderful Mezzo solo and parody from one of his more intimate song cycles nestled in the middle. And it starts with one of the incredibly powerful and dramatic opening movements you'll ever hear. His triplet/hemiola moments along in the opening movement are enough to give you chills. It's a popular piece, though, so I'd imagine you should get the tickets early.

#7 - If you like a symphony that is a bit more dark, this one is very good. It is very broody, and has a lot of catchier moments. I'd also GUESS that it's one of the lesser-popular ones, so you'd be able to more easily get seats.

#3 - This is another very long work (a lot of Mahler's work was long) and is somewhat in mood the opposite of the 7th. It has a women's chorus, no men, and to my ears one of the more accessible works of his, much like (albeit for a different reason)...

#1, the Titan, his first. Or, as I like to call it, and it isn't too much of a reveal, the Star Trek symphony. (The opening measures are very prescient of that theme.) Like any young composer, he threw as much as he could into this one. It's very VERY fun, lots of big moments, lots of weight and bombast, although not entirely his most coherent work. I mean this as a positive, however, I think it's a good choice to see and be introduced to the composer. It doesn't quite have the pressure of....

#9 - This is a popular favorite of Mahler's, and it's one of those pieces that is so intricate that you sometimes feel like you're missing the point, like you just aren't up to what's being said. It is gorgeous, but super-dense, and one listening seems insufficient. And ten listenings might also, so...

#8 - I will also say that his biggest, most massive, and TO ME fun work is the 8th. A lot of people don't like it. It's kind of involved, and has a massive chorus and six vocal soloists. As a singer, I'm biased, I think it rocks. Mahler loved drama, and he created a scene for this piece and a number of performers so great that it gained the hackneyed "Symphony of a Thousand" moniker. It had something like 950ish at the first performance, but who's counting?

What remains is the 4th - his shortest and with an alto soloist, the 5th - also shorter, well-known for a lovely allegretto movement that has been performed at a wider range of tempos than perhaps any movement in popular classical music, and the 6th, which off the top of my head I don't recall because I get any composer's 6th symphony confused with Beethoven's. These are all great pieces, just not my personal favorites.

Lastly, what you should try and catch, if possible, is a song cycle. Usually sad and uncompromisingly lovely, these consist primarily of The Kindertotenlieder, De Knaben Wunderhorn, and The Rückert-Lieder. The last set is my favorite, and has one of my favorite songs, Um Mitternacht. The Kinder set is more of a long piece on it's own while the two others would be with other pieces, or perhaps simply all together in a vocal recital concert.

Er, lastly again, there is a piece that many rightfully consider his FINEST work, but I was forced to analyze it into the dust in college so I never want to hear it again, Das Lied von der Erde.
   12. Lassus Posted: February 11, 2011 at 12:13 AM (#3748059)
First, of all, I am somewhat in awe, since I love that music, but could probably never sing it in a million years.

Oh, nonsense, if you can sing, you can sing anything in a chorus. It just takes work. There are often calls for choristers for the 2nd whenever there's a performance, I would strongly encourage you to keep an eye out and see if you feel like doing so. It may take a year in a community chorus to get your pipes and reading up, I haven't a clue. But here's the thing - you love the piece, so why not try and be a part of it? I wouldn't want you to feel disappointed in your reach exceeding your grasp, of course, I don't know you, but I think it would be worth a shot.


Second of all, what makes the difference in conductors for you, if you don't mind my asking?

As a listener, er, it's mostly subjective and has to do with tempos, I think, and some interpretive bits here and there. As a singer performing, there are a lot of things. Clarity of purpose and absolute, complete, utter knowledge of the score. If a conductor can turn through two pages as he conducts without actually looking at the score, that's what you need. And he should be engaged, actually bringing bits out or sending them down. Choral singers have it tough, and so they are often treated rather dismissively by many conductors, which is idiotic, but a conductor who some kind of engagement with everyone in the ensemble is invaluable. Thomas absolutely respected the SFSC, although that was probably because it was (and maybe still is, I left town in 1999. Vance George was the head nun you were all scared of and the ###### queen you didn't want to be on the wrong side of all wrapped up into one holy terror of a chorus leader. But, it worked, so.

Of course, a conductor can have all these qualities, and still not have a musical bone in his body, of course. That's kind of THE INTANGIBLES argument, which really is there. Some people have it. There are terrible technical conductors who break your heart when they sit down and play the piano, they are such excellent musicians, but that's a different skill. The reason Tilson-Thomas is so good is that has all of the technical things to perfection and still an amazing amount of humanity. Some conductors COUGHMASURCOUGH are solely grumpy - if brilliant - turds, as people. I mean, it has obviously worked for him, so, there's that. Thomas is someone who gets pissed when it's called for, but in a way that doesn't make you want to not be working with him. And he has no poker face, he would frequently chuckle or smile as he conducted, or frown grimace at a section or particular player. During a performance of the 8th when the tenor soloist got off and didn't make eye contact with him over successive measure although Thomas was almost conducting straight to his face, I swear there was a moment when you could see Thomas was seriously considering stabbing him in the eye with his baton. Every last entrance for that soloist for the rest of the concert was telegraphed in a way that could only be described as patronizing at best, and insulting at worst.

Errrrr.... ramble over.


...but what singing do you do? I'm a (strictly avocational) choral singer in the NY area, and do mostly small-group a capella stuff.

I'm a solely classical semi-professional choral singer. Church jobs mostly, and I have a paid gig right now for a chamber concert on the 18th, but I'm not part of the Jackie Pierce contracted stable of chorister due to lack of focus, mostly. This means I'm not one of those people who ONLY sings for money, and this has its negatives and positives. Do you do solely classical?
   13. tshipman Posted: February 11, 2011 at 12:40 AM (#3748069)
Oh, nonsense, if you can sing, you can sing anything in a chorus. It just takes work. There are often calls for choristers for the 2nd whenever there's a performance, I would strongly encourage you to keep an eye out and see if you feel like doing so. It may take a year in a community chorus to get your pipes and reading up, I haven't a clue. But here's the thing - you love the piece, so why not try and be a part of it? I wouldn't want you to feel disappointed in your reach exceeding your grasp, of course, I don't know you, but I think it would be worth a shot.


Uhhh, I can't really sing. I haven't sung anything besides karaoke since like 8th grade boys choir.

As a listener, er, it's mostly subjective and has to do with tempos, I think, and some interpretive bits here and there. As a singer performing, there are a lot of things. Clarity of purpose and absolute, complete, utter knowledge of the score. If a conductor can turn through two pages as he conducts without actually looking at the score, that's what you need. And he should be engaged, actually bringing bits out or sending them down. Choral singers have it tough, and so they are often treated rather dismissively by many conductors, which is idiotic, but a conductor who some kind of engagement with everyone in the ensemble is invaluable. Thomas absolutely respected the SFSC, although that was probably because it was (and maybe still is, I left town in 1999. Vance George was the head nun you were all scared of and the ###### queen you didn't want to be on the wrong side of all wrapped up into one holy terror of a chorus leader. But, it worked, so.

Of course, a conductor can have all these qualities, and still not have a musical bone in his body, of course. That's kind of THE INTANGIBLES argument, which really is there. Some people have it. There are terrible technical conductors who break your heart when they sit down and play the piano, they are such excellent musicians, but that's a different skill. The reason Tilson-Thomas is so good is that has all of the technical things to perfection and still an amazing amount of humanity. Some conductors COUGHMASURCOUGH are solely grumpy - if brilliant - turds, as people. I mean, it has obviously worked for him, so, there's that. Thomas is someone who gets pissed when it's called for, but in a way that doesn't make you want to not be working with him. And he has no poker face, he would frequently chuckle or smile as he conducted, or frown grimace at a section or particular player. During a performance of the 8th when the tenor soloist got off and didn't make eye contact with him over successive measure although Thomas was almost conducting straight to his face, I swear there was a moment when you could see Thomas was seriously considering stabbing him in the eye with his baton. Every last entrance for that soloist for the rest of the concert was telegraphed in a way that could only be described as patronizing at best, and insulting at worst.


This was very interesting, thank you.
   14. Lassus Posted: February 11, 2011 at 12:48 AM (#3748073)
Uhhh, I can't really sing. I haven't sung anything besides karaoke since like 8th grade boys choir.

If you were in the 8th grade boys choir, you can join an adult chorus. You won't have lost your ability, and they are always short men. I definitely stand by my statement. :-)

Er, I have to fix this:
Thomas absolutely respected the SFSC, although that was probably because it was (and maybe still is, I left town in 1999) the best large chorus in the country. Vance George was the head nun you were all scared of and the ###### queen you didn't want to be on the wrong side of all wrapped up into one holy terror of a chorus leader. But, it worked, so.


This was very interesting, thank you.

Eh, slightly all over the place, but thank you. Let me see if I can get Szym to chime in. And... there's a primate who's been a NY Phil subscriber his entire life, but I'm blanking. Cowboy Popup, maybe? RL? RMC? I don't rightly remember.
   15. philphan Posted: February 11, 2011 at 12:50 AM (#3748075)
Solely classical, Lassus. I'm in two nonpro choruses. In one, we will be doing three of the Bach motets at the end of this moth. The other, we're doing Herbert Howells's Requiem and an assortment of other solemn Lenten music in March.
   16. Cabbage Posted: February 11, 2011 at 12:58 AM (#3748080)
My buddy was in this the other day.

Which marks the extent of my ability to contribute to a choral thread.
   17. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 11, 2011 at 01:00 AM (#3748082)
It sounds like missing New Years eve and Thanksgiving were highlights.


It sounds weird, but I kind of know what he means. When you do the same job for a long time, those are the kind of memories that stand out -- the project that was so important you worked through Christmas and New Year's, or worked when you were deathly ill, or walked to the office at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning in the middle of a blizzard.
   18. philphan Posted: February 11, 2011 at 01:06 AM (#3748087)
Cabbage, the conductor who prepared the chorus for that concert is the guy I will be singing Bach motets with in a couple of weeks.
   19. JoeC Posted: February 11, 2011 at 01:14 AM (#3748088)
The LA Philharmonic is doing a Mahler symphony cycle next season - which ones should I go see? I'm not much familiar with him... always been more of a later 20th-century guy.

WELL I'M GLAD YOU ASKED.


Wow, thank you so much! I'm seriously going to print this to reference as I work out my schedule. Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise made me want to hear "Das Lied von der Erde" (he's such a passionate writer, he's made me go back and listen to things that I knew and didn't like, just in case I was missing something, and sometimes I was), but they don't seem to be performing it with the cycle. I guess you're not a proper symphony unless you have a number.

Speaking of choral works, what do you enjoy from the last few decades? I heard the LA Master Chorale do wonderful things with Arvo Pärt ("De Profundis") and Nico Muhly ("Expecting the Main Things from You"), and was completely entranced by the four-voice version of David Lang's "Little Match Girl Passion" a couple of weeks ago.
   20. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 11, 2011 at 01:15 AM (#3748090)
I agree with everything Lassus said. I would add to the conducting part that balance can be a real issue, though when judging a recorded performance it can be hard to tell whether the balance problems were caused by the conductor's faulty understanding of the score or during the editing and mixing. That's especially an issue with modern music that the conductor and performers don't really understand, but it happens elsewhere, too.
   21. Lassus Posted: February 11, 2011 at 01:15 AM (#3748091)
I sang in Canticum quite awhile back, philphan. How long have you been with them?

Vaux, I'm sorry I didn't name-drop you as I was trying to remember classical primates, bah.
   22. Cabbage Posted: February 11, 2011 at 01:19 AM (#3748096)
Cabbage, the conductor who prepared the chorus for that concert is the guy I will be singing Bach motets with in a couple of weeks.

Small world, eh?
   23. Lassus Posted: February 11, 2011 at 01:27 AM (#3748102)
Speaking of choral works, what do you enjoy from the last few decades? I heard the LA Master Chorale do wonderful things with Arvo Pärt ("De Profundis") and Nico Muhly ("Expecting the Main Things from You"), and was completely entranced by the four-voice version of David Lang's "Little Match Girl Passion" a couple of weeks ago.

I must horrifyingly admit a lot of my discoveries are of lesser-know older things. I haven't kept on top of more modern pieces except for smaller part-songs that few would really know. Charles Argersinger has a west-coast presence, Lauridsen definitely only has a few particular chords, but I feel like his Fire-Songs are brilliantly crafted. Paul Chihara, Donald Skirvin, and a bunch of composers I did with the Esoterics in Seattle and the San Francisco Chamber Singers, both notably 20th-century choruses. None of this is NEW new, but I have to hang my head in shame that over the last decade I'm simply of the the new music loop. I prefer secular works, mostly, I've done the Pärt before but he doesn't do it for me. Eric Whitacre is doing a lot of great things, certainly, but I think I agree with it in concept more than in practice, I'm not entirely sure yet.


Small world, eh?

The choral world is a pretty good large-yet-manageable community that you can keep track of people in. I'm facebook friends with Rosebaum's niece, I know a decent percentage of the NY Virtuoso Singers in that St. Matt's. It works nationally in a lot of ways as well, but I guess it helps if you've lived a lot of places.
   24. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 11, 2011 at 01:56 AM (#3748111)
If you haven't heard all the Mahler symphonies plus Das Lied von der Erde, you are seriously depriving yourself of kickass works of art.

Also, I'm such a terrible singer that if I sang in a chorus for a Mahler symphony, my contribution would be so terrible that all Mahler productions in the world would be placed on hiatus and Mahler would not be heard by humanity again for another millennium.
   25. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 11, 2011 at 02:10 AM (#3748116)
Also, one shouldn't be daunted by the massive amount of options when buying classical music. Unless a performance is truly dreadful, pretty much any mainstream performance will be sufficient when you're at the stage at which you're simply learning a piece.

If anyone needs a recommendation on anything, please let me know (you can message me at @DSzymborski or on facebook or my e-mail address of danÞ@REMOVETHETONGUEANDTHISBLOCKOFTEXTbaseballprimer.com
   26. Howie Menckel Posted: February 11, 2011 at 02:32 AM (#3748125)
Is this Mickey or Ricky we're talking about here?
   27. Srul Itza Posted: February 11, 2011 at 02:40 AM (#3748128)
The sum and substance of my knowledge of Gustav Mahler is that he married a woman named Alma, who later married Walter Gropius and Franz Werfel, which I only know from the Tom Lehrer song:

The loveliest girl in Vienna,
was Alma, the smartest as well.
Once you picked up her on your antenna,
you new were free of her spell.

Her lovers were many and varied
from the day she began her beguine.
There were three famous ones who she married
-- God Knows how many between.

Alma tell us,
All modern women are jealous
Ducks always envy the swans
who marry Gustav and Walter and Franz.

The first one she married was Mahler,
whose buddies all knew him as Gustav,
and each time he saw her he'd holler,
"Ach dat is the fraulein I must have."

Their marriage however was murder,
he'd scream to the heavens above:
"I'm writing Das Lied von der Erde,
and she only vants to make love!


Alma tell us,
All modern women are jealous
Which of your magical wands
got you Gustav and Walter and Franz.

While married to Gus she met Gropius
and soon she was swinging with Walter.
Gus died and her teardrops copious --
She cried all the way to the altar

But he would work late at the Bauhaus,
and only come home now and then.
She said "What am I running, a chow house?
It's time to switch partners again!!

Alma tell us
How can they help feeling jealous?
You didn't even use Ponds, and you
got Gustav and Walter and Franz.

The last one she married was Werfel,
and he soon was caught in her net.
Franz married her but he was careful,
for Alma was no Bernadette.

And that is the story of Alma,
who knew how to receive and to give.
The body that reached her embalmer
was one that had know how to LIVE!

Alma tell us,
all modern women are jealous,
You should have a statue in bronze
for bagging Gustav and Walter
-- you never did falter --
with Gustav and Walter and Franz
   28. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 11, 2011 at 02:56 AM (#3748131)
Alma Mahler was also a self-serving ##### who altered and/or destroyed so much of the historical record of Mahler in order to make herself look more important.
   29. Go-Kart Mozart Posted: February 11, 2011 at 03:02 AM (#3748134)
Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise


fantastic.

also am into Mahler, (though not nearly as much as you guys) which is odd since I tend to favor the Romantic period.
   30. Lassus Posted: February 11, 2011 at 03:07 AM (#3748138)
The sum and substance of my knowledge of Gustav Mahler is that he married a woman named Alma, who later married Walter Gropius and Franz Werfel, which I only know from the Tom Lehrer song:

Definitely knew this song before I ever heard of note of Mahler. Yay Jr. High discoveries. I can't wait to play Lehrer for my nieces. A classic.
   31. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: February 11, 2011 at 03:17 AM (#3748144)
first you get down on your knees
and fiddle with your rosaries
bow your heads with great respect and
genuflect! genuflect! genuflect!
   32. Cabbage Posted: February 11, 2011 at 03:17 AM (#3748145)
The choral world is a pretty good large-yet-manageable community that you can keep track of people in. I'm facebook friends with Rosebaum's niece, I know a decent percentage of the NY Virtuoso Singers in that St. Matt's. It works nationally in a lot of ways as well, but I guess it helps if you've lived a lot of places.

That's just it, my contacts with that performance were entirely on the clerical/church music side. The only contacts I have with the choral world is a religious preference that focuses on a capella singing and a sociable disposition (and fondness for booze) that leads me to a lot of parties attended by singers.
   33. Javy Joan Baez (chris h.) Posted: February 11, 2011 at 03:46 PM (#3748320)
I like both Mahler and Tom Lehrer.

That is all.
   34. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 11, 2011 at 04:01 PM (#3748339)
I wonder if he saw Ormandy do the Mahler. That would be one less reason to hate Chass, I guess.

On the back of one of my vintage LP's, it says that when the Philadelphia Orchestra performed in Helsinki in Jean Sibelius's last years, they took two buses to the composer's house in the outskirts of the city. After a few awkward moments where Sibelius fumbled for the right English words, he spontaneously cried out to Ormandy, "You are great artists!" And listening to that record, it's hard not to agree with the composer. That actual quote isn't on this webpage of reminiscence by Ormandy, but it's still a great read about that visit.
   35. guelphdad Posted: February 11, 2011 at 04:37 PM (#3748382)
all of this working in my basement office

For a second there I'm wondering, so is Chass a stat geek or not? Then I re-read it and realized it was HIS basement and not HIS MOTHER'S basement ... big difference.
   36. Traderdave Posted: February 13, 2011 at 05:58 AM (#3749310)
A close friend of mine used to be a season subscriber as well as volunteer at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He always had war stories about the nights they played Mahler. He went on at length about how it dragged out the barely sane as well as many insane, and he meant that in a very art-positive way. He loved Mahler and loved the passion that it generated at Music Hall, but made it a point to never be a ticket taker those nights.
   37. Lassus Posted: February 13, 2011 at 06:41 AM (#3749314)
The Scriabin lovers make the Mahler people seem like Dr. Drew.
   38. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: February 13, 2011 at 06:56 AM (#3749316)
As a lifelong musician (trumpet) but non-singer, I'm trying to work up just enough vocal chops to handle the occasional background vocal lines in my Tower of Power tribute band without sounding like ass. Sadly, I'm not really up to the task yet.
   39. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 13, 2011 at 07:30 AM (#3749317)
No problem, Lassus. It would be good if there were enough of us on board that we didn't have so much as a chance of remembering who each other were.

I'm not really up on the most recent choral music, myself, which is bad since I'm a choral singer and also supposedly a 20th-21st century specialist. You can't go wrong with Rautavaara's choral music, but that's largely from the '70s through the '90s. I've heard a couple of Jennifer Higdon's choral works and liked them. I think I've said before that I wasn't really impressed by the Lang Little Match Girl Passion, but I heard it once--I'd certainly be willing to be convinced. Lauridson's few chords are quite nice. I'll admit that I like John Rutter. I've written a few that I think are pretty good, but that's against the rules!

But if anyone wants recommendations on instrumental music since 1980, I'll be happy to throw some out there.
   40. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 13, 2011 at 07:49 AM (#3749321)
I had a Messiaen Saturday - got halfway through the DG box (32 CDs total).
   41. JoeC Posted: February 13, 2011 at 08:29 AM (#3749324)
I had a Messiaen Saturday - got halfway through the DG box (32 CDs total).


I think the "Quartet for the End of Time" that Jacaranda Music played in Santa Monica a couple years ago was the most beautiful and inspiring sound I've ever heard in my life. Especially the cello solo. (If it wasn't that, it was probably Lou Harrison's Piano Concerto.)

Vaux, I wouldn't mind hearing what thrills you - I love to pick up recommendations magpie-like, stick 'em in the nest and see what shines out. Although my guests made me turn off the John Luther Adams album the other day (I wasn't loving it either, but I tend to give things a few good listens before I put them aside...).
   42. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 13, 2011 at 08:30 AM (#3749325)
the 5th - also shorter, well-known for a lovely allegretto movement that has been performed at a wider range of tempos than perhaps any movement in popular classical music


The 5th is actually the one Mahler symphony that I'm really familiar with, and own a copy of. In fact, I think I'll go play it now...

Lassus, thanks very much for that very informative post. I also copied it and will keep it for future reference.
   43. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 13, 2011 at 09:50 AM (#3749330)
What thrills me . . . I'm thrilled by different things on different days, of course. Today I was thrilled by Lowell Liebermann (American, b. 1962), in particular his Piano Sonata No. 3 (Op. 82), as played by James Giles on the Albany label (TROY860), and his first two Flute Trios (Opp. 83 and 87), recorded on the Artek label (AR-0034-2). All three of those works were written in the 2000s. Liebermann's music strikes me as significant in the confidence it exudes and the pace at which it unfolds (though his pieces aren't overly long, despite their seeming leisure). His harmonic idiom is certainly triadic and pitch-centered, but features an array of chord types that range from the purely consonant to the brutally spiky. His piano writing could perhaps be described as "Bartok meets late Beethoven."

If what we're looking for is symphonies, the first name on my list is Aulis Sallinen (Finnish, b. 1935 according to most sources), who in my view may be the post-1970 master of the genre. Very striking is his Fifth Symphony, "Washington Mosaics," commissioned and premiered in 1985 by the National Symphony. Couched in a continually-developmental "mosaic" form, it combines and alternates deftly-balanced sound masses, both dissonant and more consonant, with--in climactic phrases, and moreso as the work progresses--finely-chiseled motives of a tonal and romantic character. Periods of patient stasis, searching loneliness, and surging passion entwine to make a powerful symphonic statement. It can be found on CPO 999970-2 along with the equally emotive No. 3--sometimes dark, sometimes warm, always on edge, but not at all without humor--, a product of cold-war era Finland, so close to the Soviet Union, facing invasion as a real but obviously ludicrous prospect.

Another name for symphonies and concertos, especially if you like Shostakovich and can stomach just a little more dissonance (always balanced against windows of consonant lyricism), is a younger Finn, Kalevi Aho (b. 1949). His complete orchestral works are an ongoing project of the BIS label. A good starter disc would be BIS-CD-1574, which features his Tuba and Contrabassoon (!) Concertos (2001 and 2005, respectively). He makes the latter work amazingly well.

Finally, though, the work that most blew me away in the past couple of months--almost literally, because I nearly hyperventilated at times during the outer movements--was the Fourth Symphony (2003) of Thomas Schmidt-Kowalski (German, b. 1949), who writes with fascinating beauty and seeming originality within a harmonic and orchestrational sound-world that is superficially indistinguishable from that of the late 19th-century. His melodic gift and assuredness of purpose demonstrate that much music of great value is still to be wrung from that sound-world (Symphony No. 4 recorded on Naxos 8.551212). Just as excellent is his Third Symphony (2000), found along with a ravishing Violin Concerto No. 2 (2005, I think) on Naxos 8.551246. Schmidt-Kowalski's Third Symphony ends with a climactic Adagio that would, I am almost certain, make this work a concert staple had it been composed 100 years earlier.

I'll also put in a good word for Eric Ewazen (American, b. 1954), much of whose music I've been listening to lately. It's as tonal as anything, but much more modern in most other ways than, for example, Schmidt-Kowalski's. Ewazen's melodic gift is really quite considerable, and one feels that his works will still be heard a century from now. I have heard him criticized by students, but I think they're just trying, misguidedly, to seem sophisticated. He is a favorite of several performance faculty members at my university, at any rate (and quite popular nationwide).

Everything I've recommended here (which is just the tip of the iceberg--what's been on my mind in the past few days) is broadly tonal, but that doesn't mean that there isn't wonderful non-tonal music, too. I leave it out because it's admittedly more of an acquired taste, and I don't want to turn anybody off to the whole thing. I think it's important to express the opinion, as an ostensible "expert" (there is so much to know that the term is laughable, especially when applied to me)--one who, it's also important to point out, is of no importance or influence in his field--that tonal and non-tonal music aren't in a hierarchy of importance and complexity, or in a contest with each other for significance today or tomorrow. They have similarities and differences, and co-exist. It's okay to like one or the other, or both.
   44. JoeC Posted: February 15, 2011 at 11:03 AM (#3750502)
Thank you, Vaux - looking forward to checking some things out.

tonal and non-tonal music aren't in a hierarchy of importance and complexity, or in a contest with each other for significance today or tomorrow. They have similarities and differences, and co-exist. It's okay to like one or the other, or both.


Certainly agree. It's been a little frustrating trying to find my way around modern music without a proper education, but at least that means I didn't grow up in the shadow of Schönberg - I got to hear pieces for themselves and not for what sort of ammunition they gave their advocates on one side or the other of some factional battle.

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