Musical Pop Quiz

bach

I’ve always been fascinated by the aural  and emotional differences between “The Big Three” keyboard instruments — the organ, piano, and harpsichord. The organ’s ability to serve as a sort of mini-orchestra is astonishing. The harpsichord’s tintinnabulatory clarity is wonderfully suited to the continuios (continuii?) that underpin so many of my Baroque favorites. And my personal experience [Read More...]

Music From Up On Poppy Hill

PoppyIV

Somehow, I managed to fight my way through the weekend’s Graduation Insanity. An unanticipated benefit of my (frankly, unexpected) survival was last night’s opportunity to sit down and watch my sadly-neglected screener for Studio Ghibli’s latest, From Up on Poppy Hill. It was the perfect antidote to the craziness of the past few days — gently [Read More...]

When Classical Stars Align

DuPre

The brilliance of the stars plucked from the Classical Firmament for the creation of this video is mind-boggling. Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jacqueline du Pré, AND Zubin Mehta, you say? All in the same recording? And performing one of the greatest chamber works ever composed: Franz Schubert’s Quintet in A major, “The Trout?” [Read More...]

Ella, Enchanting

OfficialElla

In honor of Ella Fitzgerald, the extraordinary artist whose birth is commemorated by today’s particularly charming Google Doodle, here’s a little bit o’ Ella and Mack: And Ella and Louis: Actually, just go here. And listen. And be entranced. Something about that particular doodle struck me when I saw it this morning. It’s unusual; almost 3D-ish. Which [Read More...]

“Howlin’ Ukuleles, Batman!”

JackII

This VOX Ukulele commercial is a ton of fun — partially because of the music, partially because of the performer, and partially because “UKULELES!” May it brighten your Tuesday as much as it has brightened mine.The fellow doing the pickin’ is Jack Mauro – the same guy who wrote and performs the song. And he’s got [Read More...]

No Commentary Necessary — Bach-Rostropovich Edition

MRJSB

On days like this, when my jangled soul needs soothing, I often find myself turning to Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites, as interpreted by the incomparable Mstislav Rostropovich. I don’t quite know why the sound of the cello is so calming to me — and calming it is, even when Rostropovich is performing at his technically-masterful-but-breakneck pace, e.g. [Read More...]

Sound the Trumpet!

Balsom

I’ve been racking my brain for the past few days in an attempt to come up with a topic more “in my wheelhouse” than Alison Balsom’s “Sound the Trumpet” album, but to no avail. Let us count the ways that I have been unsuccessful (though not disappointed) in my attempts: 1. I’m in a celebratory mood, [Read More...]

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, According to John (and Bach)

TiepoloCross

Each year, as part of my Good Friday devotions, I try to listen (as distraction-free as possible) to a musical work suited — both emotionally and liturgically — to the commemoration of Christ’s passion and death. Past listening sessions have ranged from Alfeyev’s Passion of St. Matthew and Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light to Schutz’s Passions (Matthew, Luke, [Read More...]

The Calm Before The Storm

PierrePellegrini

The first few days of Holy Week always feel so strange to me. The eager throngs and joyful Hosannas of Palm Sunday are behind us; the angry shouts, the betrayals, the torches of Holy Thursday, before. At this moment, though — waiting in this liturgical lull; this eye of the Lenten storm — all is [Read More...]

Musical Meditation for Passion Sunday

Entry_Into_Jerusalem

As Holy Week begins, here is Anton Bruckner’s setting of “Christus Factus Est,” the text that serves as the Gradual for today’s feast. Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis. Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen. Translation: Christ became obedient for [Read More...]


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