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Month: June, 2015

July, 2015‏

"July Bathing" - Konstantin Yuon

July Bathing (1925)

Konstantin Yuon


the most wonderful thing I learned
about Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons”
recently, watching the Tchaikovsky
, was, first of all, that
they even exist, and secondly, that
they are comprised of months,
January, February, March, and so
on, not seasons

so Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky would’ve
thought, so XVlllth-Century, been
there, done that

my favourite month is June to date,
of course, my birth month, July,
though more accurate here,
seems somehow inappropriate
on account of its unfortunate title,
“Son of the Reaper”

you’ll like June, a barcarolle
in G minor, and imagine the music
of July to be the music of June all
over again, no reapers but of wheat
and money

listen to Moye Chen, however,
deliver not only the first formal
glimpse I had of Tchaikovsky’s
masterwork, including months, like
“April: Snowdrop in E-flat major”,
do you love it, but also a noteworthy
Bach and, not un-coincidentally,
a quite competent Mozart

all entirely worth your time

may your July be blessed

by whoever might be your deity


at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition – Bach‏

"J.S. Bach, Wohltemp. Klav. Bd. I, No. IV. (Extrait) / (Duo de Tristesse)" -  Robert Strûbin

“J.S. Bach, Wohltemp. Klav. Bd. I, No. IV. (Extrait) / (Duo de Tristesse)” (1957)

Robert Strûbin


if I’ve been getting on their backs
about their Bachs at the Tchaikovsky
, it’s that they’re playing
Bach as though he were mediocre
Beethoven, it’s like asking Duke
Ellington to be Pink Floyd, it’s just
a completely different generation,

Bach wrote for the harpsichord, a
precursor to the piano, it could not
control the volume, nor the length
of a note, the pianoforte came
along to resolve both issues

therefore before Beethoven, who
made full use of the new invention
and worked hard the pianissimos
and the fortissimos, to degrees that
often became either inappropriate
or too authoritative, indelicate or
obnoxious if you’re not in the mood
– I remember wanting to play his so
solemn 111 at my father’s funeral,
but realized late that the first
movement was not especially in
that situation warranted, nor even
parts of the transcendental, but not
always not obstreperous, adagio –
and thumbed thus his nose at the
aristocracy, who earlier, before
the citoyens had demanded their
rights and when the world had
been considered to be of a
rational, logical order, a clock,
and as regular, would never have
tolerated such impudence

Bach and Mozart do not sway
much from strict rhythm, neither
do they alter volume much at all

so that the constant display of
heartfelt Bach and passionate
Mozart becomes cloying, and
not at all what these Classical
and Baroque masters would
have approved of

nor Beethoven, nor Chopin, for
that matter, whose strict tempo
markings didn’t include much
rubato, ritardandos, which you
could think of as milking a note,
putting velvet on your canvas,
it doesn’t work, the composition
itself unaided by bathos, pathos,
delivers, check out, of course,
Glenn Gould

Andrei Korobeinikov sat me right
down the other night with his
arresting BWV868, thrilling,
followed by more dazzling
pyrotechnics, though he fizzled,
and fractured his Beethoven, the
very 111 I care so much for, I
couldn’t even finish, you don’t
need a velvet canvas behind the
111, neither cloying ritardandos,
just skill, nor tangles of notes,
for that matter


at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition – the program‏‏

"Beethoven, 1987" -  Andy Warhol

Beethoven, 1987 (1987)

Andy Warhol


you’ll probably have noted, if you’ve
been following the Tchaikovsky
, that, unlike the
Rubinstein, the selection of works
is much more constrained, though
the mighties nevertheless

after the third day and into the
fourth, only one contestant has
started with anything other than
Bach, a Tchaikovsky

but unfortunately none of them but
one had given us a Bach worthy of
his name, then followed through
with, not surprisingly, a quite
competent Mozart, the cultural
conditions being not yet all that
different, aristocrats were looking
for their own music instead of the
church’s, secular instead of
ecclesiastical, therefore a tune
rather than an oratorio, Beethoven
and the Revolution would change
all that

afterwards a sonata of Mozart,
Haydn or Beethoven, the Classical
triumvirate, after which Tchaikovsky,
appropriately at this competition,
then études, either “-tableaux”,
“transcendentales”, or plain and
simple, by Rachmaninov, Liszt, or
Chopin, that’s it, you get to hear
the “Appassionata” or the “Grandes
études de Paganini”
several times
that way, sharpening discernibly
your musical ear

one was riveting, Andrey Dubov‘s

another, Lukas Geniušas transfixed
me with his opus 2, no 3, of
Beethoven, a work I usually only
ever tolerate, sending it soaring
into the bard’s later mature, and
revelatory, period

others have been competent, even
admirable, several, however, not
ready for this trial, they’ve come
without adequate preparation for
the ball

though I’ve been watching it in
my pajamas, I should talk


at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition‏ – Jeung Beum Sohn‏

 Jeung Beum Sohn

Jeung Beum Sohn


in the second slot, on the second day,
Jeung Beum Sohn knocks the
competition to date right out of the
ballpark, his every interpretation is
not only flawless, but a revelation

his ostinatos, his agitatos, his
diminuendos, accelerandos, his
every stirring tremolando, are
precise, nuanced, utterly convincing,
his essential spirit more oracular than
merely ever only entertaining

can anyone win after such a

I am impetuous, in my enthusiasm
I’ve promoted it seems already
undeserving contestants, all of
which have nevertheless excited
my undiluted appreciation, though,
apparently, ultimately unwarranted

it appears this competition is
holding out for utter stars,
wondrous elucidators of our
still profoundly influential cultural
heritage, in a manner I deem, and I
use the words advisedly,
determinedly transcendental

check it out


at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition‏ – June 16, 2015

Emmanuel Rimoldi

Emmanuel Rimoldi


perhaps was I precipitous in my prompt
appraisal of a promising participant on
the first day of the XVth International
Tchaikovsky Competition, for every
other pianist, but two, was not
unequal to the plaudits I’d earlier
pronounced for this powerful
preliminary performer

it appears there are, indeed,

after an egregious error in her
Beethoven, a rhythmic miscalculation
that erupts like breaking wind at a
formal function, and needs to be
recovered by something, someone,
who will, which will, overwhelm the
unwelcome air, Maria Mazo quickly
rallies and delivers a Beethoven
you’re not likely to forget, followed
by a bouquet of other marvellous

but Emanuel Rimoldi eventually
wins the day, June 16th, to my mind,
with a resplendent, and revelatory
Mozart, followed by other equally
dazzling interpretations

check them out


at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition‏ – Yuri Favorin

Yuri Favorin

Yuri Favorin


if it doesn’t make you shiver, quiver,
throb even, after the first two numbers,
as far as I’m concerned, forget it, and
that’s being generous

Yuri Favorin flubs his introductory
Bach, losing too often the strict
Baroque tempo markings, notably
in the overlapping fugal* play of
both hands, required of Bach, for
consistency, world view, the clock
being the image of a fundamental
and prophetic order

but once the Romantic Era takes off,
he is transcendent, he made me
hear the Beethoven opus 22 all over
again, Beethoven’s 11th Sonata, and
that’s something, Beethoven can be
pleasant early on, decidedly
entertaining, even inspiring, but not
as profound as he later became, I
like profundity

his Tchaikovsky, his Chopin, are
melting, revelatory, who knew about
Tchaikovsky and “Nocturne’s, or ‘d
even thunk about it, or ‘d heard so
wrenchingly recently the dramatic
change of dynamics from
tempestuous to nearly stopped,
vulnerable and innocent, then
back again, in Chopin, as a device
in his music, in stark and
representative contrast, incidentally,
to Bach’s rigid Baroque framework

Liszt dots the “i” of transcendentalism,
something I refer to often, but which is
formally even expressed in his title,
“Études transcendentales”, an age in
which music aspired to be formally
much more than just music, attempted
to touch beyond the stars, define, even,

so when I say things are transcendent,
I’m not kidding, some things let you in
on the voice of deities, divinities, the
ineffable, the wonder, the miraculous

this guy, Yuri Favorin, is transcendent,
and he hasn’t even won yet


* fugal is the superimposition of
the same musical line alongside
the original one, but at a different
place along that line, we used to
call it singing in canon when it
applied to song

the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition‏

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

(1840 – 1893)


my musicologist friend alerted me to the
fact that since the 15th of this month, and
onwards till the 3rd of July, the XVth
International Tchaikovsky Competition
on, at which point I raced to my position,
got a front row seat, for you as well
should you decide to join me, at the gala
, check it out, performed in the
Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatory,
in, of course, Moscow, no less

you’ll be reminded of the monumentality
of Tchaikovsky, his melodic sense, his
emotional power, his subtlety

also Russia’s

the introductory “Capriccio”, conducted
by Vladimir Fedoseyev, is rousing,
probably the best you’ll ever hear, though
it should’ve been called “espagnol” rather
than “italien”, I’ve always thought, there’s
even a redoubtable tambourinist – how
Spanish is that – you’ll want to watch out
for, however far from Spain he might, in
his quenched enthusiasm, seem

Tchaikovsky’s “Mélodie”, op. 42, no. 3,
played in all innocence by a 14-year-old,
a cherub in the guise of already an angel,

the concert suite from his “Nutcracker”,
mastered by a 13-year-old with the
command of a prodigy, after that

you’ll remember Daniil Trifonov from
the 13th Rubinstein Competition, which
he won, accompanying a soprano here,
but you’ll also see him bring down the
house with his last two movements of
Tchaikovsky’s iconic 1st Piano Concerto

why would they have left out the
thunderous, wonderful first, I wonder

Daniil also won the last Tchaikovsky
Competition, the 14th, also in 2011

most of the program is in Russian,
with some considerations for a
perhaps interested English audience,
thanks to Valery Georgiev, a conductor
of considerable note, not at all the
vagrant here that he seems

my musicologist, who speaks everything,
understands the Russian, but it’s not
difficult to understand, the message
is one of harmony and peace

the opposite of war is not peace, they
are saying, it’s art, and specifically
here music, these are here actions to
unite, beyond borders, beyond creeds,
beyond even transgressions

they signal out Van Cliburn, who plays
all, incidentally, of Tchaikovsky’s 1st

I signal out Eurovision, the Tchaikovsky
, now in its XVth year



the flow (with a representative performance of Bach)

"The Kitchen"  - Pablo Picasso

The Kitchen (1948)

Pablo Picasso


having forgotten that I’d left a candle
in the kitchen, I thought, is that what
you’re going to strike me with,

and then I thought, who’s you

certainly not some Creator with a
white beard and a vengeance, or
even, for that matter, without a
vengeance, even empathy, a
buddha, a guardian angel

no, “you” would be the order of
things, the flow

I spread my arms, and ceded to

to be one with the flow, I thought,
that’s the Force, there was no
getting around it

to be at one with the Force,

then I remembered the chicken
drumsticks in the ginger cherry
sauce I’d left in the oven

which turned out nevertheless



for perfect coconut rice,
1 cup of coconut milk,
available in most high-end
food stores, one of water,
one of rice, of course, your
pick, bring to a boil, lower
heat, simmer covered for
45 minutes, an hour, or as
soon as you remember
you left it on the stove,
turn off heat, add a
tablespoon of butter, lime

serve with chicken
drumsticks in ginger
cherry sauce

and, of course, wine

“Schubert at dinner” – me‏

"Schubert at the Piano, ll" -  Gustav Klimt

“Schubert at the Piano, ll” – Klimt (1899)

Gustav Klimt


June has been too hot for words
here, therefore my hiatus, along
with other physical and emotional

but someone sent me something
today that made me think I should
return to my literary preoccupations

I’ve been fussing about my kitchen
rather, making soups, biscuits,
muffins, learning about basic, and
trying out unusual, taste

coconut rice with lime, for instance,
perfect for seafood and summer

pan-roasted pork tenderloin in a
whisky, mustard preparation, for
one’s incontrovertible delectation

you need to sear the tenderloin in
oil first, salt and pepper of course,
turning to brown all indentations

then smear with a whipped up
mustard and butter blend, lower
heat, cover, listen to this Schubert,
meanwhile, revelation

one of several transcendental
sonatas he wrote before he died,
a too early death, considering his
sublime cultural donations

he was 30, too young to die, to
produce what would’ve surely
been otherworldly musical

when the meat’s cooked, set it
aside, keep warm, loosely
covered, increase heat, add
diced shallots, soften for
several fragrant inhalations

add as much whisky as you
want, though too much, I
found, will defeat your taste
expectations, though not, of
course, your degree of

bring to a boil, reduce to a glaze,
lower heat, add cream to the
mustard, butter, shallot, whisky

gently cook sauce till it clings
to a spoon, I add the pork then
to the pan to return it to my own
doneness specifications

with coconut rice, you’ll serve
an unadulterated celebration

with Schubert’s D894, whether
cooking or dining with it, an
utterly existential affirmation

have fun


psst: serve with wine

June, 2015‏

 "Fields in the Month of June" - Charles-François Daubigny

Fields in the Month of June (1874)

Charles-François Daubigny


there were no poems not tawdry
about the month of June when I
looked, I read of the moon a lot,
of blossoms everywhere blooming,
troubadours crooning, couples
spooning, ubiquitously and
indiscriminately, none enough to
warrant my further attention

but this lyric, serendipitously,
finally, touched on what I thought
June might bring up

June, it said, is busting out all
, to corroborate, just click

incidentally, Monet, a year earlier,
1873, had painted his Wild
Poppies, near Argenteuil
, the
month of June in his conception
being addressed here perhaps
merely peripherally

but it seems Daubigny and Monet
must’ve known each other

again just click