Meadowlark Lemons.: James Brown and Wagner: Tension and Release


Not even Reich’s music is as exhilaratingly tense as “Doing it to the Death,” or “The Payback.” Reich’s pieces take long, extended journeys; they are exquisite processes which slowly unfold through time, irreversibly. Brown’s best music never takes a journey: it’s either just where it should be, or tantalizingly close to where it should be.

Strangely enough, I think that ”The Payback” has more in common with Tristan und Isolde than it does with Glass or Reich. It’s all about tension and release.

This whole post is straight-up brilliant.

Meadowlark Lemons.: James Brown and Wagner: Tension and Release

The greatest audience comment ever recorded is, I think, a remark overheard at a performance of Ernst Krenek’s Second Piano Concerto at the Boston Symphony in 1938. A Boston matriarch responded to Krenek’s twelve-tone discourse by saying, ‘Conditions in Europe must be dreadful.’

I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise…

George Gershwin on Rhapsody in Blue’s inspiration, the rhythm of the city train. (via adamnorwood)

This reminds me of what I called and still call one of my favorite pieces of music ever, Steve Reich’s City Life, which uses a bunch of samples from New York City street scenes: hawkers, sirens, car and boat horns, screeching tires, subway whooshings. Luckily all five parts are online for your listening pleasure.

Poignance Measured in Digits – New York Times

July 16, 1989 article by Hans Fantel. He writes about a CD his father gave him, a Vienna Philharmonic performance of Mahler’s 9th–the very show that they’d attended together 50 years earlier, which also happened to be the last the Vienna Philharmonic would give before Hitler rolled in.

But it wasn’t the music alone that cast a spell over me as I listened to the new CD. Nor was it the memory of the time when the recording was made. It took me a while to discover what so moved me. Finally, I knew what it was: This disk held fast an event I had shared with my father: 71 minutes out of the 16 years we had together. Soon after, as an “enemy of Reich and Fuhrer,” my father also disappeared into Hitler’s abyss.

That’s what made me realize something about the nature of phonographs: they admit no ending. They imply perpetuity.

All this seems far from our usual concerns with the hardware of sound reproduction. But then again, speculating on endlessness may be getting at the purposive essence of all this electronic gadetry – its “telos,” as the Greeks would say. In the perennial rebirth of music through recordings, something of life itself steps over the normal limits of time.

(via Alex Ross’ new book)
Poignance Measured in Digits – New York Times