Posts from the That looks difficult Category

Should orchestras start their own labels? Is that easy? Are CDs going to disappear? Will downloads replace them?

Somehow, Classic FM’s Arts Daily podcast managed to go all the way to the Association of British Orchestras’ conference, track down people that know the answers to these questions* and still end up with nothing close to a useful (or even coherent) conclusion. God only knows what they actually said. It sounds like there are about seven edit points in every sentence.

* Jonathan Gruber, former VP of New Media at Universal Classics & Jazz and current head of the new media consulting firm Ulysses Arts; Chaz Jenkins, head of LSO Live; and James Inverne, editor of Gramophone magazine.

Well, mostly, they wave their arms and get paid a lot. Like most senior managers (good and bad), they don’t seem to do much at all.

In this TED talk, Itay Talgam uses some wonderful examples of conductors at work to show how less can often be more, and even how nothing at all can be everything. I found his last example quite awe-inspiring.

He talks about Strauss’s Ten Commandments of Conducting, which can be found here (or here).

Thanks to JD for sending me the video. I’m sorry it took me so long to watch it.

…and not because of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which is a fun publicity stunt that probably won’t have a lasting impact on the way we do anything. No. What I love about YouTube is that it lets me get a good look at musicians doing amazing things. A lot of classical music is about artistry, but there is a big slice of it that is about somebody standing on stage doing something that shouldn’t be possible and making it look easy*. You can hear the music from the cheap seats, but to see the fingers blur you really want to be up close and personal.

* That’s a stunt too, it’s just a rather cooler one than “look – we used a video website to audition a youth orchestra”.

I’m not sure what I love most about this: that Heifetz is doing something that ought to be physically impossible, that he’s doing it with his elbow in the air and a look of mild disgust on his face*, or the bit at the end where he doesn’t even acknowledge the audience until he’s shared a private comment with the pianist.

* and wasn’t even French

There’s pretty much nothing I can tell you about Heifetz that’ll make you buy his music, but the video gives you a sense of the man as a performer. When I’ve tracked down his recording of the Korngold violin concerto, I’ll tell you to buy it, and you’ll know who I’m talking about.

A few weeks ago I was sent this video of Yuja Wang playing the Volodos transcription of Mozart’s “Turkish Rondo”. There’s a bit at the end where her whole hands are moving so fast that I can’t see them. A studio recording of the track is on her album too.

…and if that has given you a taste for people doing the hard stuff, check out my favorite transvestite church organist, playing Chopin’s “Revolutionary” etude with his feet. He put it on his album too. Cameron is an interesting one. A lot of organ aficionados don’t like him, but then again I think that’s an audience most of us can do without.