Yearly Archives: 2013

Almodovar on Iglesias

I”ve been re-watching all of Pedro”s films with the (subtitled) director”s commentaries turned on.  Here”s what he has said about his collaborator, Alberto so far:

Habla con ella

La Mala casino online nederland Educación

About this theme:

by which he means the Musica Ricercata No. 2 used in Kubrik”s Eyes Wide Shut:


In this case, it”s Penélope Cruz on Alberto Iglesias:

So do I, Penélope, so do I.

CSYO Chicago Tour

Publicity time, people.

I’m taking my orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra on a tour to Chicago, IL, the site of my collegiate and post-collegiate years.  Worlds are about to collide.

THIS SATURDAY we’re playing at this beautiful historic high school on the north side in Rogers Park, just around the corner from a zillion Ethiopian restaurants.  So please, make a night of it!

Here’s two highly embarrassing promotional videos for the tour.  The first is me talking to a camera. The lighting, wardrobe, and make-up crews had the day off.  You guys.  My hair is SO flat, and nobody even thought to tell me.

Here is a tantalizing snippette I took with my phone on the podium the other day.  Chicago, orchestral choreography is about to come your way, and I can only hope that you’re prepared to cope with it.

I wish the quality were clearer so you could see how those kids are all mugging for the camera.  A bunch of hams!  I dare say they’ve learned from the best.

In summation: come to my concerts in Chicago.  Did I mention we’re playing all 20th & 21st century music?  And that they’re FREE?

Saturday, May 25, 4:00 pm
Senn High School, featuring the YOURS Project Orchestra

Bernstein, West Side Story Overture
Debussy, “Fêtes”
Hanson, Suite from Merry Mount
Higdon, SkyLine
Marquez, Danzon No. 2

Sunday, May 26, 10:15 am
Adler Planetarium Plaza

Bernstein, West Side Story Overture
Higdon, SkyLine
Hanson, Suite from Merry Mount
Glière, Russian Sailors’ Dance
Williams, Harry Potter Symphonic Suite
Marquez, Danzon No. 2

Is it Debussy or an English period drama soundtrack?

It’s time for everybody’s favorite game, “Is it Debussy or an English period drama soundtrack?” in which you, the listener, have to decide of the following excerpt is a) the anonymous soundtrack to a BBC period drama or b) an obscure vocal work by a famous French composer?

If you guessed (a), you, my friend, are wrong.  This is by Claude Debussy, and it’s from a piece called “La Damoiselle Élue” that I just had to learn for this year’s May Festival (and that I subsequently fell in love with.)  It’s one of those pieces that manages to be ravishingly beautiful and soporific at the same time (for more such works see: Debussy, Claude and Mozart, W.A.)

Just to clarify, here’s how it more likely would have gone if it had been written for British network television:

Later in the series (perhaps during the final scene even, when the lovers meet each other again as snow falls around them) there would be a wordless choir in addition to the string wash.

You guys should seriously give “La D. É.” a listen, and if you do, tell me if you think it isn’t the most Puccini-esque piece in Debussy’s output (it sounds a lot like “La Rondine”. Is that the most Debussyy piece in Puccini’s output? Discuss.)

[Also, as far as BBC scoring goes, I continue to be impressed by whoever wrote the score for that episode of Two Fat Ladies when they talk about Wagner.]


Have you guys checked out my friend Will’s new podcast?  You should!  It’s called The Great Debasers [which may or may not be a song lyric] and the premise is Will and his friend Jeremy re-watch movies that they originally saw in their teens and then talk about where they were when they first saw it, what they remembered, how it was different this time around, etc.  It’s a great listen, especially if you’re a guy in your late 20’s and were into American movies/film culture in the late 90’s/early 00’s.  But really it’s for everybody!  In the latest episode (#7) I give my well-rehearsed dossier of the Ligeti-Kubrik relationship (a subject which well-nigh obsessed me around 2003, probably when I first saw this movie.)

Anyhoo, I’ve been doing some other re-watching lately, with Cincinnati friends: re-watching all the Disney Animated Classics, one by one.  Here are my assorted thoughts on the project so far, in order of the re-watched:

The Little Mermaid

Totally maintained it’s status as the best Disney feature in my mind.  Great songs (to which I still half-remembered the words), engrossing plot.  Lots of gags that went over my head on childhood viewings cracked me up this time.  The animation style was a big surprise though: seen from this post-Pixar world, it looks REALLY old.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  In a lot of ways, TLM struck me as the last in the line of the great hand-animated Disney productions.  But it was crazy – this movie could just as well have been animated in the 1950’s.

One thing I had TOTALLY forgotten, but which came as a pleasant surprise: Sebastian the crab is a self-styled conductor/composer!  Given the number of times I watched this movie as a kid (and given that he was my favorite character) I seriously think this may have had an influence on the path my life/career has taken.  This time around, my favorite character was Ursula.

Of all the great tunes in this movie, what’s my favorite?  The accordion jig on the boat.  I am seriously not even joking right now.  It’s a beaut’!

Beauty and the Beast

God I love Angela Landsbury.  And Maurice Ravel.  But it didn’t really make sense that she (Angela) played Chip’s mother – she should have been his grandmother.  But I guess that would have led to all sorts of questions?  I don’t know.  The songs in this movie are pretty good, but maybe not at the level of TLM.  The computer generated sets are cool and all, but I can’t help but feel the loss of the TLM animation style.  This movie (combined with 101 Dalmations) surely provided The Simpsons with its best musical fodder. (“See my vest”)


Aladdin is definitely the hottest of the Disney movie princes, and let us not forget that he was voiced by DJ’s boyfriend from Full House.  I had forgotten just how few songs there were in this score.  It’s really just Robin Williams’ gimmick song and “A Whole New World”.  Which, there’s nothing wrong with that exactly, but it sort of misses the point of the musical, and the movie dragged for me at points.  I forgot about Gilbert Godfried as the wise-cracking bird.  (Which, it turns out, is part of a long tradition in the Disney movies of hilarious animal sidekicks.)

The Lion King

Eh.  I remembered liking this one a lot more as a kid.  Shit is dark! Jeremy Irons, good on you.  [Speaking of The Simpsons: anagrams, anyone?]  Again, there’s barely a song to be heard in this movie!  It’s really just “Hakuna Matata” and “Circle of Life” theme song.  Question: is there a subliminal message about the inevitability of corruption in this movie?  Does “The Circle of Life” implicitly include the destitution/coercive power dynamics/enacted psychoses of the Scar administration?  Must it?  Musn’t it?  I think maybe. (But maybe I’ve just been reading this book too much lately.)

Lady and the Tramp

Sucked.  Seriously, I was really surprised.  It’s just a bunch of little vignettes, threaded through with the thinnest of plots.  The spaghetti scene is memorable, yes, but that’s about it.

101 Dalmations

Really enjoyed this one.  Great English character actors in some of the minor dog roles.  Or maybe they weren’t even really English – I questioned an accent or two – but they were great characters at least.  Again, it came as a surprise how little music there was in this one, but Cruella de Vil (both the character and the song) is an absolute winner.  In fact, I think CdV may be my favorite character in the Disney cannon.  This movie dragged a little though.  A solid effort, if not my very favorite.  (Also great Simpsons fodder.)

Sleeping Beauty

I really just love this score.  So 50’s, so choral (btw, almost all of these movies, including the more recent ones, have unabashèd choral finales in their scores.)  You can NOT go wrong with George Bruns, I’m telling you.  His incorporation of and variation upon the original Tchaikovsky ballet score is so masterful, and makes a mockery of Clint Mansell and Matt Dunkley’s adaptation of “Swan Lake” in Black Swan (which movie was a mockery of so very much anyway.)

More on dynamics

Dynamics in a score are like the camera angles written in a film script – they can only suggest the physical sound, much as a script can only suggest how the final picture will look. Conductors and musicians are like cinematographers with hundreds of lenses, lights, and filters at their disposal.

Crescendi and diminuendi are like camera zooms in and out.  I don’t know what the musical equivalent of a dolly shot would be.  Not to mention the famous Vertigo effect.  Unless it’s that great Bernard Herrmann chord.