Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blogs, Pianists, Movies, Actors, Droids!

I've only just discovered Bruce Brubaker's wonderful new blog, PianoMorphosis. A highly accomplished pianist, Brubaker teaches at my old stomping grounds; reading his thoughts makes me wish he'd been around when I was still stomping there. (Or, to be more accurate, when teachers were stomping about my playing - or to be really accurate, when Michele Auclair was banging that huge ring on a desk to keep my concerto accompaniment strictly in tempo. She did not like it when I "followed" the violinist.)

A few recent posts worth noting:
  • We're All Composers Now - in which Bruce makes me remember that I'm a composer, too, given that I recently "composed" this canon.
  • Bruce Brubaker's Guide to Alliterative Artists - be sure to see the additional comments, none of which bother to mention that I am an alliterative artist as well.
  • Can we play too well? - of course, I'm firmly committed to not playing too well, which is why I don't practice enough...I mean, as much as those joyless perfectionists. This also reminds me of an old MMmusing post, Too Good to Be True?
  • Masterclass - assorted vignettes proving how problematic master classes can be. Oh, how I agree. I recently sat in on a class given by a very distinguished artist who could hardly articulate anything useful - although this musician played beautifully when demonstrating, and dropped fists full of names. (Brubaker doesn't "drop names" here, but he's not afraid to "name names.")
  • And then there are more rhapsodic and harder to summarize posts such as: Pianoscape and Tale of Two Cities, a wonderful exploration of the subjectivity of place and tastes.
Good stuff, and always entertaining.

And my goodness, how have I missed out on the existence of Stephen Hough's blog? And he's friends with Niles!

Here are two quick points about Niles: I recently made up my own little response to a couple of Facebook memes by shuffling my iPod 25 times in order to inspire 25 "random" thoughts about myself. Maybe I'll publish all 25 some time here, but I was most proud of the following:
11. Brahms: Violin Sonata No.2, 1st mvt. This isn't on my list of favorite pieces [#10 had just been revealed as #1a on my all-time list], but the 2nd theme is probably the greatest, most perfect 2nd theme in history. Kind of like how "Frasier" isn't my favorite-ever TV show, but Niles is probably the greatest, most perfect 2nd character in TV history. I was never a big fan of "Frasier" when it was first airing, but on more nights than not, I watch two episodes from 10-11 every night. It's always dependable (except when they were pole-vaulting sharks the last few years) and, when it's a really good one, as perfectly executed as a Bach fugue.
So, Hough links to Niles playing a Bach partita. How wonderfully circular.

Also, re: Niles, last night our family watched Star Wars. Not a sequel or prequel, but the good 'ol original on a good 'ol VHS (mercifully free of the awful interpolations Lucas later made to this movie). First of all, what a great movie, some comically bad acting aside. It's perhaps not coincidental that I first saw this movie multiple times at the age of 10, so a postmodernist might fairly argue that this has defined what I think a perfect movie should be, but there's not a frame that bores me or where the through-line lags. And the soundtrack really is extraordinary. Also, the special effects are more realistic and convincing to me than most of what you see in modern films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Harry Potter films. And this movie was made less than a decade after the backyard FX of Star Trek. Again, maybe the effects still look realistic to me because I internalized them at 10, but wow. And, of course, everyone should take a look at this. Oh, and in spite of the amusements to be gotten from that link, it may be tempting to say that Star Wars is operatic, and thus deserving of being made into an opera. Wrong. It is operatic already, film as opera evolved. (And that helps to explain Luke Skywalker's "heightened" acting style.)

But what about Niles? Well, it struck me again and again last night how uncannily C3PO resembles Niles, which is odd because Star Wars and Frasier could hardly be less like each other. So this is what happens when you watch the former multiple times at the age of 10 and the latter twice a night at the age of...

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