A Boy Like That

News from here and there while I wait for Gruppen to finish downloading….

The British seem to be in a mood for marathons: first Vexations, then Scarlatti: the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester organized a performance of all 555 of Domenico Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas last Sunday, in six overlapping recitals, packing a day-and-a-half’s worth of music into a comparatively breezy twelve hours. Here’s my favorite detail:

Punters will be able to hear 449 of the sonatas for nothing (the other six will be played by Aleksandar Madzar in the final pay-to-get-in recital) and can make their selections with the help of a giant screen listing which piece is being played where and when.

I had an image of a Departure/Arrival screen in an airport. L. 263 is now boarding… L. 397 is delayed….

From around the blogosphere: Jeremy Denk revolutionizes music theory (and manages to avoid a “snap, crackle, pop” reference—you’re a stronger man than I am); ANABlog looks into the future (Utopia? Dystopia? Depends on how well she plays it, I guess); Brian Sacawa (via Darcy) unearths the subliminal seed for an entire generation of avant-garde composers (I heard that soundtrack on a regular basis from age 5 on up, now I’m listening to Gruppen—coincidence?). And I’m a little late on this one, but Andy at The Black Torrent Guard is taking nominations in possible anticipation of this year’s Most Annoying Song contest.

Finally, Chevy Chase reveals just how crazy “Saturday Night Live” nearly got:

But meantime, did you know that “West Side Story” composer Leonard Bernstein almost guest-hosted “SNL” in its first season? “The idea of John [Belushi] and Danny [Aykroyd] coming out doing a number from that show cracked us up,” Chevy recalls.

He and writer Tom Schiller were invited by Bernstein to the New York Philharmonic to discuss the idea. After the show they went to see the famous virtuoso with a penchant for young men backstage.

“He put his hand on my knee. When we were leaving, he kissed me full-on, on the lips. I wagged my finger at him and said, ‘No, no, no.’ And that was the last we ever heard from him.”

A hell of a town.


  1. So what do you think of the Abbado “Gruppen”? It’s widely recognized as the worst recorded performance of the piece, see the Amazon reviews of that DG disc.I wish Stockhausen-Verlag would issue a surround-sound recording on DVD-Audio or SACD.

  2. Stockhausen’s own recording would still be my first choice, but I have to say that the Abbado <>Gruppen<> isn’t anywhere near as bad as the reviews had led me to expect. It’s a little structurally diffuse, but it <>sounds<> great—it’s kind of cool to hear Stockhausen played with that Berlin Phil sheen. And the stereo mix doesn’t bother me a whole lot; I can still tell where each orchestra is supposed to be, and just increase the separation in my imagination. As an only recording? Probably not. As a companion to Stockhausen’s peformance? Sure.I guess it has a lot to do with how I view recordings in the first place—for me, they basically spur my auditory imagination, and I end up filling in gaps in sound or accuracy or the like in my mind. So I admit I’m more forgiving than most.By the way, that 320 bit-rate is a much bigger difference than I thought it would be.

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