Missing Haendel

You know, I just opened a PDF of that old sheet I was working up of “Son nata a lagrimar” for piano, viola, and violin. It’s such a beautiful piece of music, and I really do miss doing these arrangements. I know that I prioritized my own work ahead of arrangements of anything else (be it Haendel, Keating, or Schmidt), and that is the best thing to do right now because getting my own stuff out is absolutely top priority.

But once that’s done, and I feel that I can relax a bit, I really can’t wait to get back to the Haendel stuff. Themes and variations, arrangements for strings, that sort of thing. I might ask my old viola teacher whether or not he and his wife would be willing to read things with me and add in various markings for bowings and stuff that would make the music easier for a string player. I don’t know enough of that sort of thing, what a good player would expect to see on the page and what they could or would rather do without.

Basically, I’m just homesick for Haendel.


Watched the first two acts of the Met’s Fleming/Scholl “Rodelinda” last night

The third act will start in a second once my coffeemaker finishes.

God, I love this opera. The music is fabulous, the costuming, the singing, everything. And the story! No more “then the chick dies, the end!” Ooh, I looooove it! That’s the best part!

No. It’s not the best part. It sucks. Watching most operas is like being a gay guy and watching “Brokeback Mountain” sixteen times in a row. No, it’s not the “best part” when the gay dude dies. It’s the sickest, saddest part. I’m reminded of one of the characters in the stage play “The Boys in the Band” who cynically remarked to a friend, “You know, the fag doesn’t always die at the end.”

Well, the chick doesn’t always die, either. Sometimes she kicks all kinds of ass and sings like a bird in the process. No wonder this is, as stated in the intermission interviews that took place during the HD broadcast that made this DVD, Renee Fleming’s teenaged daughter’s favorite opera. The chick kicks ass, wears fantastic gowns in the process, and gets to land Andreas Scholl at the end. (Who by the way has long hair in this. And thigh-length leather boots. He’s about nine feet tall. Those boots go on for a while.)

Go buy it. Now.

This is the kind of thing that will keep me from ever buying another viola.

Insanity comes in many shapes and sizes

I absolutely cannot afford it — he’s asking for a house down payment, which I do not have — but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep an eye on the thing, and on other classical-style organs on Craigslist. Oh, to be able to score an entire opera with different stops and sounds and things …

Just looking at that Rodgers is enough to make me explode, but it would be like handing a Kalashnikov to an 8-month old baby. The second looks wonderful, but I don’t know if that model is good for classical music. I’m not looking for siss-boom-bah.

ETA: You know, I think that there is something about making gobs and gobs of notes at once that’s appealing to certain types, much more so than playing something that’s for all intents and purposes, one note at a time. Sure, string players can play two- or three-note chords, but it really is a single-note instrument at bottom. It’s more about the quality of the sound than about the structure that’s created, I think. And the more I think about it, the more I really am on the side of wanting to just play more notes at once.

The first time I looked ahead in the second Suzuki viola book, I remember seeing “Minuet in G” there. Like thousands of young piano students, I had played it as a kid. I never got over the general feeling of thinness and insubstantiality that I had while looking at the sheet music. I’ve said before that strings are an inch wide and a mile deep, where as piano are an inch deep and a mile wide. (Organs are miles in both directions, which I suppose is why most organist are a little cracked upstairs. You’d have to be.) String players seem naturally to be able to find joy and fascination in that drilling down process, whereas maybe keyboard players (and certainly this keyboard player) take more pleasure in getting high up and seeing outward.

It’s not hard and fast, of course. Keyboard players have to be able to drill down, and a good string player has to look outward, if only to blend themselves properly with the others around them. But I think our first instincts are to either drill down as a string player, or look outward as a keyboard player. I don’t know. It would be interesting to observe people and see how true this is.

I also keep thinking of me as a kid and how I nagged my parents for piano lessons for years starting at roughly kindergarten age. I don’t really recall when I started nagging them. I often assume it was age 5 plus or minus 1 year. But I never nagged for anything else, and it’s not like I hadn’t seen other instruments. It was that big one with all the notes that I wanted to play! You could play the whole piece of music on that one thing! With both hands! (I do know that had I picked up a violin and been made to hold the bow in my right hand, I would have instantly put it down and walked away anyhow.)

Damn. It’s good.

My arrangement of the opening of “Pompe vane di morte” and the recitatif acompagnato afterwards. I managed to record it without freaking, stonewalling, or choking for once. I’m listening to it now … and it’s good. It’s really good.

It makes me want to be a complete idiot and score the entire opera. At the moment, I have other things to do (like oh, breathe and shower) but after I put a few more pieces of my own in the can, and … um … retire? I might do this. I do know that I want to end up arranging Haendel stuff formally at some point. As in, making a list and working through it after I’ve got about an hour of my own music written and shedded.

And yes, I’m still thinking about arranging the “Eruption” solo for piano in some sort of crazy Rach style, but I haven’t got the chopses. 🙂 We’ll see what happens. This could be some sort of chops-acquisition thing.

I don’t know. I’m just really pleased with how this sounds. 🙂 There’s a lot to be said about putting recitatif on a piano.

More Met Live in HD — Mozart and Haendel!

The 2012-13 Met Live in HD Season

Clemenza de Tito (Dec1) and Giulio Cesare (Apr27)! With David Daniels! Bicket doing both, too.

So let’s see here. I live near enough to LA to drive up and see the LA Opera, and so far I’ve seen one of theirs. This HD season will make four times I’ve gone to the Met from way over on the west coast. The Met really just seems to do way more than I like, especially Baroque stuff. Rodelinda, plus the mash-up Enchanted Island, and now Mozart and more Haendel. Even the Haendel that the LA Opera did (“Tamerlano”) wasn’t that good in terms of thematic framing; the voices were great, but they just couldn’t seem to handle the idea of a coloratura soprano who didn’t mince or die.

I love the philosophical implications of these operas coming back from the dead and taking over the world, too. Between (I think) 1756 and 1920 or thereabouts, no one performed a single Haendel opera start to finish. Not once. That’s nearly 200 years of obscurity, and here they are back again. It’s inspiring.