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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Muore Nicola Arigliano... non solo "Il signore del Digestivo Antonetto"!


E' morto nella notte Nicola Arigliano. Il cantante, 86 anni, abitava da quattro anni a Calimera, in provincia di Lecce, nell'istituto Gino Cucurachi, un centro per anziani. Era originario di Squinzano, sempre in provincia di Lecce, dove era nato il 6 dicembre 1923.
Secondo quanto riferito dalla famiglia, il musicista non aveva malattie: ieri pomeriggio ha avuto una crisi respiratoria e poi prima della mezzanotte è morto per un infarto.


Nicola Arigliano ha sperimentato molte forme artistiche nella sua vita: musica, tv, cinema e anche la pubblicità. Per anni è stato, infatti, il testimonial del Digestivo Antonetto in caroselli e spot. Moderno fino all'ultimo, nel 2007, insieme ad un suo staff di collaboratori, aveva inaugurato la sua pagina su Myspace.


La sua passione era il Jazz, ed ha il merito di averlo reso noto, se non popolare, al grande pubblico televisivo. Suonava il piano, il sax, la batteria e il contrabbasso e la sua carriera inizia da ragazzino. Dopo le prime esibizioni a carattere locale e una lunga gavetta nei locali del Nord Italia, viene notato da un produttore televisivo che lo fa debuttare in scenette e numeri musicali in alcuni programmi di varietà.
Nel 1956 presenta i suoi primi di dischi a 78 giri. Tra essi A tazza 'e caffé, Zitto zitto zitto, Spatella 'argento, Scetate. Con il passaggio al 45 giri Arigliano ottiene un grandissimo successo con Simpatica brano di Garinei, Giovannini e Kramer.
Partecipa all'edizione 1958-59 di Canzonissima, al Cantatutto, a Sentimentale, programma condotto da Lelio Luttazzi (ospite fisso con Mina; la sigla del programma, intitolata Sentimentale diventa un grande successo inciso da entrambi cantanti in due versioni differenti) e a vari festival jazz, mettendosi in luce con il suo stile da crooner.


Nella prima metà degli '60 spopola per i suoi brani in 'italese' come I love forestiera, Amorevole, Tre volte baciami, My wonderful bambina ma anche con le sue particolari interpretazioni di My Funny Valentine e Arrivederci (di Umberto Bindi) entrate a far parte dei classici da night e piano bar.


Torna sorprendentemente in televisione nel 1977 in alcune puntate di Non stop, una trasmissione di Enzo Trapani dedicata al cabaret: è il pistolero vestito di nero che "uccide" gli artisti a rivoltellate, pronunciando la battuta: «Non voglio noie nel mio locale!».


Nel 1996 vince il Premio Tenco, per il suo album I sing ancora e recita al fianco di Enrico Montesano e Mietta nella serie TV L'ispettore Giusti (1999).


Nel 2005, con i suoi ottantuno anni di età, è stato il cantante più anziano a partecipare ad un Festival di Sanremo: nell'occasione ha presentato il brano Colpevole, vincitore del Premio della Critica.


La sua ultima esibizione risale all'8 settembre 2007, in occasione del premio alla carriera che gli ha voluto tributare la sua Squinzano (LE).


Saltuariamente si è anche cimentato nel mondo del cinema (La grande guerra, Ultimo tango a Zagarolo, ecc.).


I funerali di Nicola Arigliano si terranno domani, giovedì 1 aprile, alle ore 16 presso la Chiesa SS. Maria Annunziata di Squinzano, in provincia di Lecce, dove l'artista era nato.

WJAAS - Being a "Stereo Kichigai"


"Sono audiophile wa kichigai da yo!" - (transl. - That audiophile is crazy!).

Time of balance and meditation about the future, folks: I read about "Stereo Kichigai" in an old 1982 "Nouvelle Revue du Son" magazine, where Jean Hiraga was reviewing a normally wealthy Japanese music and audio lover, Kobayashi-san, who - during twenty years of his life and submitting himself and his family to great economic sacrifices - built a five ways ALL horns system which used active multiamping, one of the ten best sounding and most impressive systems of whole Japan!

It's my opinion it's a much more worthwhile (Japanese) tale than others which arrived to our Western ears;-) - i.e the one concerning the cute, brave and loyal Akira dog who waited for his master and owner - who passed away afar from home - outside the JR station for years...

I imagine - more than Richard Gere acting in the role, like in a.m. Akira movie - a Bill Murray or the like in that audio-lover shoes... maybe quoting him as I remember his "Lost in translation"...

Seriously: the elusiveness of the matter makes me wonder "what" really makes me happy during my home music listening and "if" and "when" will happen a definite "stop" to improvements...

I'm - as some Stereo Kichigai from Japan (or elsewhere), and after several years of joyful audio interest and shopping - for the first time feeling the weight of the sums I spent and which I'll spend in the future for music related stuffs... it's not something you do for others, it's a very personal and inner path and trip; nonetheless, as I wrote in previous post about "Audio & Black Holes", yet some strength is needed at some point to keep the best temper and direction.

These days I'm re-considering my bass-enlcosures after GREAT improvements and remodelling of my whole system which I (almost) completed during last months and I'm hearing and reading almost every day every kind of "audio sirens" singing the merits of "this" and "that", in a turbillon of prices and finishes and designs and approaches, from the most flawed to the most technically successful, uncompromised and well built... feel me someway like a sea-captain and his vessel in the deep sea: the most beautiful of places at sundown with calm sea, BUT the worst place on the planet during a storm... and these sirens screams and calls doesn't help...

Sure feel "Stereo Kichigai" enough to go ahead, despite I'll go, carefully, step-by-step to avoid cul-de-sacs and expensive errors...

How I'd like entering a shop asking for what I want and have it delivered after a month or so, instead of having to deal with overseas dealers, countless e-mails, pro-liar-artisans, custom-duties and bank-transfers... and stressful, months-long waits.

This consciousness about being - yes - a Music and Audio Kichigai, gives to me a sense of brotherhood with the above, Hiraga-mentioned Japanese Stereo Kichigai(s): we seems to own a different "sense of money" and its value... a moving piece of music, a sought-after disc, a pleasant listening session are, for us Kichigais;-) more rewarding than a Seychelles' vacation.

There is no rose without stings: a vacation is some days long, Music is a love for life.

Feel me wise... getting older, a little tired (see above), wiser and... Kichigai!

Proudly so, as the noblest of warriors from Edo times, against CWT, the enemy - i.e. - Curious Wives Troops;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Audio: the Most Beautiful Hobby on Earth or a Black Hole?



As you know, I'm a music lover and consequently an audio fond user and scholar since my teens... sometimes - like in these days - I do a resume of last purchases and deals: records, audio gears, also instruments, to a broader music-related extent...

The grand total (only considering last year...) is something resembling the purchase of a brand-new mid-sized car... this shortened my savings, leaving me with a feeling of being, someway, "unbalanced" vs. other life priorities: not a reality, BUT a definite feeling... nonetheless, a someway bitter feeling...

When I entered my music room, yesterday evening, I sort-of had the shivering sensation that music-system wasn't only a mess of cables, gears, parts and materials, BUT a living/mechanical creature in "OFF" mode, sleeping, yet alive... and hungry, VERY hungry!

An hungry beast, asking every day passing for "more" everything: discs, tapes, disks, tubes, cables, speakers, cartridges, arms, care and attentions... almost a diet for a (Japanese film-maker) Tetsuo-like creature.

A mechanical Lion always hungry of Steel Steaks...

I still fondly remember when I peacefully lived with an all Quad combo: 33/303/FM3/ESL... for thirteen long years I pressed an "ON" button and put a record on turntable platter (a Linn Sondek with Syrinx PU-3 and Accuphase AC-2) and enjoyed music. Period.

... then one day, I began to hear the difference among audio gears and cables, and cartridges and tubes... TUBES!!!

I hate TUBES!!!!!;-)

I spent real-estate amounts for tubes and related...

... as I hate vinyl... I HATE IT!!!!

I spent BIG bucks on those stupid sleeves and black plastic discs... when you buy a rare, sought-after record, you pay a lot... due to scarceness and elusiveness... when you die, ALL those discs are - often - sold as a lot and at weight-value. Very unfair market-laws, at least!

... maybe audio isn't an hobby... it's a Black Hole...




... maybe;-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dr. Tomas Gallia, SONART and the art of itinerant recording






"Dr. Tomas Gallia - (born in Budapest in 1921, died in Switzerland in 1997) Hungarian sound-engineer, born to a prominent musical family his career began at the Hungarian Radio in 1947 and in 1951 he became chief engineer for MHV, the predecessor of HUNGAROTON. In 1961 he moved to Milan where, along with Paul Déry, he established SONART, an independent recording company that operated out of the studios of the Angelicum concert hall."

... about Dr.Gallia and more informations and pictures

This - more or less - what's available on the WEB about Tomas Gallia... TOOOOOO BAAAD!

Last evening I was listening to an Astree disc from the magnificient "AS Series" (Orlando Gibbons' music performed by Jordi Savall and Christophe Coin) which was engineered by the above mentioned...

... and like from the mist, I remembered ALL...

It was about 1992 or 1993...

I've been an ancient music lover since while a fetus and Astree AS represented an illumination for yours truly, more than Telefunken's and RCA Seon and L'Oiseau Lyre's discs: those weird, yet SO tasty and classy coloured covers, the beauty of performances and recordings... also my first turntable and cartridge combo (Thorens TD-160 and Shure M-75ED) was able to unveil and recognize the quality of these discs...

Once a month when still a student, more and more as time passed, it was a true feast when I visited Gabbia records shop in Padua, where - hand-picked, one by one - I Chip'n'dale-like, shopped for one, three, ten, thirty and more Astree's AS... 'twas my (secret) vinyl fix... my friends were into Progressive and rock, while myself was deeply into Hopkinson Smith, Jordi Savall, Blandine Verlet et al.

That's the main reason I'm soooo poor;-) as I had to fill an HUGE gap in modern and rock and folk music, 'til these days... paying a lot discs I simply missed when they were published, because I was so busy and swinging in... ancient music and Astree's.

Many years later those early days... whooosh... and the Time Machine brings us to early '90s... no WEB, MUCH more sex and happiness with lesser means;-) I felt the strong, sincere need to "know" who was behind the records I so much adored...

In a couple of days of search, I obtained SONART telephone number in Milan... still remember that afternoon, after the job... my vintage couch was white and freshly restored, I didn't had a wireless telephone and was still unmarried... lot of spare time;-)))

Almost shaking and shivering, I dialed the round phone wheel and, after few rings, a gentleman said "Pronto?"

That was the beginning of a too short, yet so deep meeting with one of my heroes, one of those unknown heroes - my father - a singer in his spare-time all his life, my mother - a self-taught music lover and enthusiast - and J.F. Pontefract (met in Paris), Kenneth Wilkinson and Kavichandran Alexander (met in Santa Barbara), all recordists extraordinaire - who, someway, leaded me toward recording and a deeper, more lively, conscious approach to Music, true food for my Soul.

As my mother told me several times, when still in my early teens: "Better one more disc, and - if the case - missing a steak, Stefano!"... this while preparing a summer tomato salad with a joyful smile, while music was flooding our house...

... ohhhh, how I agree, Mom;-))) it's all so beautifully carved in my DNA...

... so, the gentleman answered the phone... 'twas Dr. Tomas Gallia.

I introduced myself and... after more than one hour of conversation, someone possibly asked for him and the phone call was kindly interrupted with the promise to talk again, soon.

A couple of days later, I called again... and again the magic happened... this Master of Life, Music and World Facts poured knowledge, technical information, anedoctes, memories from his beloved Hungary, of his partner, mr. Paul Dery, of Sonart, of better fiscal/taxes related "habits" in Montpellier, France, than in Milan, Italy (...), of musicians and travels, always warm and friendly as an older brother...

I can still remember the sound of his voice, quiet, yet fiery and passionate... a flood which left me almost breatheless...

Imagine: happy and no one to share with my joy and honour and satisfaction in knowing - first-hand - of recordings in country churches with hideously priced and sought-after tape recorders and microphones. A dream for a younger me...

... what can I say... I flooded myself, as well, like I opened a deeply stored, cherished memory.

... as always, an humble, probably stupid consideration: are them really only black plastic round discs or, more misteriously, it's where at least some of my (our?) personal history lays?

Vinyl: an analog hard-disc for memories?

Don't know... sure was... IS, an honour and immense pleasure having met Dr. Tomas Gallia.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

WJAAS (related) - Kengiro Azuma-san, 無 (Mu) and 物の哀れ (Mono no Aware)



Kengiro Azuma-san was, when 19 years old, a kamikaze... few hours prior his first, and possibly, last (death) mission, Emperor Hirohito signed end of war with Americans and... he became an artist.

Re-born - like, he finished his studies in a kneed, battered Japan, and following his father (from a family of bell foundry artisans for generations) steps, he fell in love with Rodin and Marini's art and sculpture and bronze working and came to Italy in his thirties (early '60s) to make a living as an artist.

His art was hinting to Nature and caos and chance... the poetry which came from his bronze "rain drops" is... awesome, as his fruit wooden-crates plaster-prints are nothing short of awesome, as well.

His Zen sense of chance is something which - after breaking a sculpture - maked him to appreciate the wounds and bruises the hard fall left to his handicraft: no angryness, but admiration for the fate hand.

... but what makes me wonder and think about Azuma-san's corpus and opus is his Mu approach, considering the Emptyness as richness, the shape of objects and their true soul... the old Alan Watts' kind-of "Zen trick" which so much impressed whole Western materialist world and culture, back in the '68... i.e. - the (truest) glass is in its emptyness, not in the glass itself.

........................................................

... audio-wise... horns and their shape is music and ears friendly as they allow to (someway) tame, organize "air", which becomes music.

Like a cattle-fence makes one thousand cows an herd... the Zen of Things and Stuffs;-) gives an order, a sense to caos and chance, trasforming a "big trumpet" into Beauty of Creation.

... and - by Zen chance;-) - such an ugly, home unfriendly behemoth, (a horn)... transforms the someway neutral, still environment in something else, ever changing in Time and Space... and gives Music.



My love for those "organic", man-made and shaped musical object - yes, horns - and their related perception in space is, like for art, something difficult to be fully explained... but, like only basic stuffs of our lives do... it is.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Record of the Week: Mark Charig's "Pipedream"




Last evening I (re)opened a someway obscure and dusty section of my discotheque: the European avantgarde shelf... Incus, Ogun, FMP, Hans Reichel, Luis Moholo, Lol Coxhill, Keith Tippett, Marc Charig, Evan Parker, John Surman, Elton Dean... and I put on the platter a seldom quoted masterpiece: "Pipedream" by Mark Charig with Keith Tippett and Ann Winter - trumpet/flugelhorn, piano percussions and organ - more later - and voice, respectively, on Ogun label.

The recording - mostly improvised - was recorded in the chilly winter English countryside, in a small unheated church - in Feb. 1977... 33 years ago... the percussions played by Keith Tippett are... the church bells (!!!) and the organ is the old church organ... the dynamics are CRAZY!!!

The flugelhorn and piano percussions, strings strummings, the BELLS... well, since last listening, I had to keep playback volume lower to avoid some mistracking and "system crisis".

... with my actual "Gotorama" heavenly beauty, ALL the GLORY and FULL sound seems to effortlessly flood in my listening room... BELLS are really awesome in dimensions and nuances and trueness...

Now I can clearly hear the outer recording-venue noises, as well... mostly cars, but also whispering voices (Recordist? Friends? Pedestrians?;-))) previously almost inaudible... also the wooden-floor resonating under steps... while K. Tippet reaches the organ... CRAZY!

Lysergic and invigorating... and highly recommended!

Ivan's Choice - Serge Gainsbourg


· Part poet, part provocateur, Serge Gainsbourg was known outside France primarily for the heavy-breathing masterpiece J'taime moi non plus (the only French song ever to top the British charts) but to those at home he stood one of the more potent cultural figures of post-war France. His poetry was compared to Rimbaud and Baudelaire, his morality to the Marquis de Sade. He was surely the only man ever to have written hit songs about the joys of incest, sodomy, motorcycles and cigarettes and to still be awarded the Chevalier Des Arts et Lettres, his country¹s highest artistic honour.
· Poet and Provocateur comprises rare live and studio recordings by Serge, Juliette Greco's exquisite ep of Gainsbourg songs that did so much to establish his name, interpretations of some of his finest early songs by contemporaries such s Pia Colombo and Hugues Aufray, Gainsbourg's score for Jacques Doniol-Valcroze's film L'Eau a la Bouche (A Game for Six Lovers) and the soundtrack of Michel Boisrond's Voulez-vous danser avec moi? (Come Dance with Me) which saw Gainsbourg make his screen debut in a film which starred Brigitte Bardot, the biggest star in France, with whom he would soon so controversially collaborate.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ravi Shankar/Andre Previn's Concert for Sitar & Orchestra - EMI vinyl vs. open-reel master-dub tape



I love this very recording: it's, better it would have possibly be in lesser hands, a sort-of "pastiche", à la "East meets West", but Pandit Shankar's skill and musicality with the baton of maesto Previn allowed the mighty London Symphony Orchestra to play blissfully with melismas more akin of an Indian ensemble... a miracle of balance and beauty... very enjoyable music, both light and ancient and deep like a Raga can be.

... but the reason I'm hinting to this recording isn't only related to its beauty...

I purchased many years ago at Irvington Music from Portland, OR, some great second generation, open-reel, master-dubs...

Not cheap, BUT, thinking about the quality of these tapes and their, often, mythical histories and paths, fragile items changing hands several times in the years, the price-tag sounded (someway) appropriate...

I purchased "Sketches of Spain" and "Kind of Blue" by Miles, the best ever, a couple of radio gigs by Monk, some obscure brass music... and Shankar/Previn's EMI on old Scotch 202 tape with 1K Hz Zero-VU-meter pilot-tone at the beginning of tape...

So, back to the topic: also if spinning at 7-1/2 i.p.s. I had to re-listen carefully to both formats, vinyl disc and tape, to fully "understand" what was going on!

Amazingly and always MUCH worth underlining and pointing it out, the RIAA treatment seems to have more flaws than merits to the ear... this is more apparent than in other recordings I'm aware of - i.e. the EMI's technicians and recordists made a very lively, beautiful recording, and the tape is - absolutely - a winner over vinyl... seems to listen to a completely different recording... the sitar is well centered and "low" in its soundstage positioning - i.e Pandit Shankar was floor/carpet seated, left of Previn's podium - and Alla Rakha's tablas interwoving with orchestra tympanis are simply breathtaking!

Also large parts for... solo triangle;-))) - are so enjoyable, true, TRUE-to-life... it's really something to be heard, folks.

Micro and macro dynamics are very "here", untiring, natural. Music isn't bleached, BUT owns a very high specific weight and room-filling capabilities...

... and it's a mid-speed master-dub, not a first generation 15 i.p.s. master-tape!!!

The vinyl disc which I owned and appreciated for decades is - plainly, yet fondly said - more "normal", with large portions of recording venue halo missing and never sounding so... sooo... "surprising" as the tape is during all the 40 minutes of its length.

The Tim de Parravicini-zed old, well kept and trusty Revox G-36 is truly a superb machine, also if its strongest merits are as a recording, NOT a playback, tape-machine.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed yesterday evening listening a lot... with some sadness when turning OFF my music system...

Everytime a format, tape, disc, disk reaches its Zenith, the VERY peak... KAPOOOW!

Industry goes for always lesser stuffs and media-formats, cheapest to produce and - often - more expensive to purchase for we all, poor users... gimmicks vs. quality!

In photography like in audio, it's the naked, sad truth... felt like a Druid, yesterday evening, at a shrine while loading the tape from a spool to another... the mass involved listening to the glorious TAS - i.e. Truest Analog Sound;-)

I like to think I'm not alone and several "music priests";-) are still well alive and kickin' with their tape-dinosaurs...






WJAAS & Haru no Kaze, waiting for Hanami



Spring wind or "Haru no kaze" is something which, hopefully, every year blows winter away, grass is green again and sakura blossoming (hanami) begins in Japan, from Okinawa to Sapporo as in our hillsides, like a pink tide... again and again, every year life renews Herself, ancient, yet brand new and forceful...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

The quest for the perfect turntable/record clamp





... I spent half of my audio-life hating them, and now I can't do without;-)))

Built during last five months: Shindo-like solid bronze, with hammertone grey finish (600 grams), solid aluminium, red anodized (320 grams) and... soft suede leather and 1mm lead shots (350 grams)...

A free... aehm: an almost free clamp to the first who'll get the (sonic) winner;-)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Franz's Choice - News from Babel "Letters Home" (1986)


Lindsay Cooper - music, bassoon, saxophone, piano, keyboards
Chris Cutler - words, drums, percussion
Zeena Parkins - harp, accordion
Bill Gilonis - bass, guitar
Dagmar Krause - vocals on #17-18
Phil Minton - vocals on #14
Robert Wyatt - vocals on #10-11, 13, 16 & 18
Sally Potter - vocals on #12 & 15

10. Who Will Accuse (2:38)
11. Heart of Stone (3:04)
12. Banknote (3:19)
13. Moss (3:58)
14. Dragon at the Core (4:39)
15. Dark Matter (4:20)
16. Waited/Justice (5:09)
17. Fast Food (3:13)
18. Late Evening (4:58)

... now (digitally) reissued with "Sirens & Silences / Work Resumed on the Tower" (1984)



Lindsay Cooper - music, bassoon
Chris Cutler - words, drums, electronics
Zeena Parkins - harp, accordion
Dagmar Krause - vocals
Georgie Born - bass on #4
Phil Minton - vocals on #9, trumpet on #8-9

1. Odysseus (2:56)
2. Auschwitz/Babel (4:07)
3. Klein's Bottle (3:17)
4. Black Gold (3:09)
5. Devils (1:16)
6. Dry Leaf (2:51)
7. Arcades (of Glass) (7:44)
8. Victory (5:19)
9. Anno Mirabilis (4:08)

in a single disk (thus the weird tracks numbering;-))...

I got the "Letters Home" in the cool, still findable, vinyl 45 r.p.m.... superb audiophile recording quality and, most of all, GREAT Music!

Thanks, Franz...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Link of the Month


WOW!

No comments... to browse freely!

A fix: kudos to the master!

Record of the Month - C.O.B. - Moyshe McStiff and the Tartan Lancers of the Sacred Heart


Alredy owned and appreciated the elusive first disc by C.O.B. - Clive's Original Band - titled "Spirit of Love" a once sought-after wax, now re-issued by Tapestry Records (from Liechtnestein...), BUT wasn't prepared when this afternoon I purchased second disc always by C.O.B. - the title itself is worth the purchase and owning it;-))) - a gorgeous reissue by Radioactive Records: double-fold cover with gorgeous artwork by Paul Whitehead (Pawn Hearts, H to He, Nursery's Crime, Foxtrot, Fool's Mate and the Charisma's logo... the very best of Prog's crop!).

Produced by Ralph McTell, like the first disc, and recorded in 1972 with Danny Thompson (of Pentangle's fame, of course...) on double-bass, and with harmoniums, acoustic guitars, voices, sitars, shenai, gong, tablas... an awesome, timeless gem I wasn't aware of... the original Polydor pressing seems to be MUCH more sough-after and rare than the already virtually impossible to find first one... so, a much welcome reissue, indeed.

The atmospheres are magical... acoustic, psych, prog, folk, ethnic/work music... as Clive Palmer (the "C" in C.O.B.;-)) was founder member of Incredible String Band who, after 1st record on Elektra, obtained his advanced wages from record company and... simply disappeared to Afghanistan and India!

It was 1967 or so...

I read he now make a living in Northern France (Normandy?!?) living simply in a small, peaceful village, restoring old furnitures and clocks and playing very occasionally some jigs with old ISB's pals...

A wise man.

... and a very, VERY fortunate afternoon for yours truly, as I discovered this shining musical diamond... music to die for... smoothly;-)

A masterpiece.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seven phases in the life of an hard-core (records) collector


Originally written by David Hurwitz, posted at “Classics Today” and a nice addendum to "The violin of Fayence" quick review I wrote, few months ago:

"SEVEN PHASES IN THE LIFE OF A HARD-CORE COLLECTOR

Do You Recognize Yourself Here?

I’m sure that some of you have seen that famous little poster called “The Six Phases of a Project?” In case this escaped your attention until now, these are: (1) enthusiasm; (2) disillusionment; (3) panic; (4) search for the guilty; (5) punishment of the innocent; (6) praise and honors for the non-participants. It occurred to me recently that the life of a typical hard-core classical music record collector might be similarly categorized, and so I modestly propose the following:

Phase 1: Discovery. This is the most wonderful time of all, when the world seems full of an almost limitless number of masterpieces crying for your attention. The only constraint on your enthusiasm is your pocketbook, and you do whatever you can to purchase as much as possible as quickly as possible.

Phase 2: Expansion. You notice that the same music sounds different in different performances, and so you begin collecting multiple versions of your favorite works and start to get a sense for which artists offer interpretations that are most to your liking. You smile knowingly when friends and family members ask the perfectly logical question: Why do you need 15 different recordings of Mahler’s Second Symphony? Foolish people!

Phase 3: Fandom. Your taste in various performers leads you to fixate on one or two (or more) who you believe hold the key to indisputable artistic greatness. Now instead of purchasing multiple recordings of the same music, you’re after multiple recordings of the same music by the same artist at different periods (sometimes only a few days apart). You begin looking for pirate air-checks, private recordings, every scrap you can get your hands on, no matter if it sounds awful and your idol might have had a really bad day. You MUST have it anyway. You find great signficance in relatively tiny interpretive differences from one performance to the next.

The next four phases are not necessarily the inevitable outcomes of the first three, and not every hard-core collector experiences all of them, but most eventually manage at least one or two.

Phase 4: Nostalgia. This is a transitional phase: now comes that terrifying moment when you feel that you’ve heard it all. You’ve mastered the basic repertoire and know all of the great performers, those you like and those you don’t, and have reached the dreaded Great Works Saturation Point. What’s missing in your life is the thrill of discovery: that first flush of enthusiasm for each masterpiece as it first sounded when you originally encountered it.

Phase 5: Crusade. Happily salvation is at hand, in the form of dozens of fine independent labels specializing in all sorts of repertoire niches just waiting to be explored. There are two principal dangers with this phase (not including possible bankruptcy). The first is the inevitable and chronic lack of shelf space, a difficulty avoided as you make your first trips to that fabulous musical safety-valve, the used CD shop. The second danger is the tendency, similar to what happens in phase 3 above, to make exaggerated claims for music that really isn’t all that special or interesting just because its novelty excites your fancy. People will look at you strangely as you vigorously try to defend the assertion that Havergal Brian was England’s greatest composer, Sorabji a genius, or that Beethoven was a musical pygmy compared to Ferdinand Ries. This phase can go on for years, with literally thousands of discs passing through a typical collector’s hands in an endless crusade for that Holy Grail of classical music:
the neglected masterpiece. If you seriously believe that the “three Bs” means Bax, Boughton, and Bach (W.F. of course!), then you’ve gone too far, and it’s really time to move on to Phase 6.

Phase 6: Renewal. One day, as you look through the letter B in your carefully alphabetized collection, you see those 40 or 50 Beethoven cycles that you haven’t touched in months, or even years. Playing the symphonies, just for old time’s sake, you’re stunned to realize that they truly are light years better than the second rate novelties that have constituted your main musical diet lately. So you move on to Brahms, Mozart, Handel, Mahler, Haydn, Bach, even (gasp!) Tchaikovsky, and Richard Strauss. It’s as if you’re hearing them all for the first time--and how alive, how refreshing they all sound! You fall in love with the great classics all over again, and you realize that the judgment of history isn’t always wrong. They don’t call ‘em “warhorses” for nothing!

Phase 7: Maturity. If you’re lucky, you may get this far. You realize that it’s not necessary to own 50 Beethoven cycles, 46 of which you never play, when you can be just as happy with 20 of them, 16 of which you never play. The complete harmonium music of Siegfried Karg-Elert, that Bulgarian Mahler cycle, 20 or 30 Gregorian Chant collections, six copies of the same historical recording reissued on six different labels in marginally varying (terrible) sound quality, your cherished 12 CD box containing pirate recordings of Sviatislav Richter’s “legendary” Spandau Prison concerts, and literally dozens of Baroque operas about which you remember nothing beyond the fact that they all sound exactly the same--all of these go straight to the used CD store where, like lost umbrellas, they will be returned to circulation to nourish the next generation of classical CD collectors. And as for you, well, you still purchase new releases, but discretely, selectively, and you take the time to enjoy every one."

Thanks to David Hurwitz and to Roman Bessnow for allowing hi-jacking of and hinting to the above nice essay.

Bach's Six Cello Suites





This very musical masterpiece "owns" me since my boyhood, as my mother used to listen to it, as I learned about its title getting older (always without knowing who performed it); sometimes she was reading in dimmed light, a book on her laps, more often plainly listening to it with her closed eyes, humming ... years ago, I finally bought the RCA/Seon Anner Bylsma's 3 records-set of this Bach's monumental opus which I enjoyed, BUT always with a different feeling from my beloved, mind-carved musical remembrance...

... an occasional music lover would say: "It's same music, don't you? Uh... uh...";-)

It happened I recently purchased a linen covered, N.O.S. Archiv 3 records-set of Pierre Fournier on Cello...

That's IT!!!!

I immediately recognized the long, long missed playing I still so well remember during my long afternoons as a boy and a student - myself studying and mom lovingly playin' Pierre Fournier's magnificient Bach...

The Fournier vs. Bylsma is like looking at a great landscape from another point of view... Fournier's more classic and timeless... Bylsma is technically amazing, with a tad of coldness the Fournier simply don't show... never fatiguing or boring also in a 6-sides fix during a lazy cold Saturday afternoon listening...

Glad, soooo glad I re-found this performance... from time to time I asked myself - as mom's record maybe get lost or something during several movings in the decade, before the full blooming of my musical passion - who was the cellist... Casals... nope... Rostropovich... neither... maybe Starker... no...

Feel me - just a little - like "Forrest Gump";-))) - BUT must say... thanks, mom... thanks, Archiv... and thanks a lot, monsieur Fournier.

... so discs are only plastic slabs, uh? Feel me back home...

Happy Birthday, dear "Red Priest"



It happened 332 years ago... Antonio Vivaldi was born and world became a better place.

... so, Happy Birtday, Signor Vivaldi... and thanks to Google for reminding it;-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WJAAS - an interesting Blog from a Japanese music lover



黒羊紳士
私は私が好きなものが好き

Scott Ross at Saint Guilhem-le-Desert: a 1976 recital



I never heard of or listened to Scott Ross prior a couple of months ago... my fault!
My friend Toni - a consumate and skilled melomane and records-as-truffles searcher introduced me to this recording.

It possibly came as for-free disk with "Diapason" french magazine which Toni reads since I know him...

I listened to this very recording at Toni's place and fell in love... now I also have my 1:1 burned'n'hacked copy, which I'm wildly enjoying, in loop-mode, since yesterday evening...

Scott - who sadly and untimely passed away years ago (1977) - so passionate and lively performance at the harpsichord, like I only appreciated from some live performances by Ton Koopman and VERY few others is so... rock;-)

He's full of joy and his awesome performing skill isn't heavy to the ear... it's not like a dull, pale musician would be performing 300 years old music written on dusty manuscripts... he owns the rare, so seldom heard gift to let music - also more difficult played on a sometimes boring instrument (like harpsichord may be in lesser hands...) - to flow uncorrupted, like it was written yesterday... Bach, Scarlatti... his drive is well captured at the live recording, whose recordist also deserves GREAT merits and kudos.

Also audience hand-clapping are true-to-life... BUT most impressive is how the music flows...

I'm an harpsichord freak... often, VERY often, I listen to music on such an instrument and used to lazily and lovingly visit a builder and restorer workshop in my area, listening also to new Delrin plectrums fine-tuning... waiting for some tune blooming from a freshly strung instrument, in awe.

The late Scott Ross is a truly, truly great performer and this very performance, recording and music is of HIGHEST quality... can't stop listening to this very disk, which I highly recommend to anyone, both new and deep in Baroque music.

Thanks for this precious hint, Toni: this balance me introducing you to Ludwig Streicher and his double-bass;-)))

Triamp (TM) by Thomas Mayer



Still fiddling around with down-to-earth facts (mostly money-related...), but, nonetheless, this could be the look of the mighty little Triamp: 3 x 45 power-triodes, 3 x 27 triodes-drivers, (now hidden) Graetz-rectifiers bridge, ALL per side (i.e. x 2), using small, old manufactured Tango irons throughout and built-in 1st order/6 db/oct. with fixed slopes/frequencies cut-offs - i.e. 1000 and 5000 hz... the low-pass filter at 200 hz, which could be a steeper slope filter - 2nd or 3rd order, always passive, to avoid "paper-cone slowering syndrome" to upper ways - could use exotic Duelund's caps (or - why not - "battery-biased" & doubled PIO caps) and Slagle's wire-resistors...........

On Westrex' 2080 15-inches woofer, Hiraga Le Classe A 20W solid-state amp: guts at low-end and (triodes) velvet gloves on mid-low, mid and high, using 3 x David Slagle's TVC with 0,5 db steps & resolution to fine tune signal on the three Goto's upper ways...

Must seriously save... or write Santa Claus in advance... in the meantime: slurp!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Angel Song - Robert Wyatt's music in Modena









Yesterday evening, at Teatro Comunale "Luciano Pavarotti" in Modena, I attended to one of the most sought-after concerts ever: prominent members of "Canterbury school" - a bunch of daredevils who, since early '60s and onward, composed among the most haunting, beautiful melodies I ever heard... from "Hope for Happiness" to "Dedicated to Hugh, but you weren't listening" and "Moon in June" by Soft Machine to "In the Land of Grey and Pink" by Caravan, "1984" by Hugh Hopper - I'll always love this record - and "Rock Bottom" by Robert Wyatt...

Robert Wyatt is - of course - a personal hero of mine: his voice is telling us about how fragile is Man, yet Unique.

The nine musicians on the stage played this weird, strange, seldom heard melodies... "Alifib" with Dagmar Krause somehow a tad "woody" vs. Robert's liquid vocals and... shivers... Richard Sinclair and his incredible voice, the nearest thing to Robert's voice I'm aware of: can't believe how beautiful and naturally easy sounded it alive... always tuned at tiniest cent, he improvised flawlessly in "God Song"... Tears...

The 300+ kilometers I drove to attend at this very concert were blissfully digested by the enjoyment, the always moving and enriching sensation, the feeling of being "right in the world navel" for long, LOOOOONG moments...

That's what I'm after, pals... stopping the clocks, freezing the time for an orgasm of ALL senses, shamelessly.



... reminds me the William Blake's "God's finger" painting: to me - a nihilist and a gnostic down to the tiniest cell - this music is akin to the truest, deepest expression of human beauty ever... religion? ... maybe mysticism, but "beauty" is self-containing all is needed.

Robert Wyatt did it... like Richard Sinclair's angel-like voice and Anne Whitehead's trombone and Chris Cutler - amazing drummer and nice persona he is - Dagmar Krause and all the others stellar performers who cocooned one of the most precious "living treasures" - Japan-style - of present era: Robert Wyatt.


Thanks to Michele - my seat-neighbour, yesterday, at the theatre... was great sharing with someone like you this very evening;-)

Richard Sinclair's site, full of infos and news about Canterbury's scene

BTW... Richard spend part of the year in Salento, Puglia (Italy) - good stroke and tastes, Richard;-)