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Dorothea Röschmann and Mitsuko Uchida / Songs by Schumann and Berg

5119eS-4t8LThis recital is so very, very good that you just sit there stunned and then have to pick yourself up off the floor, regroup and sit there stunned for a little while longer. I heard the live version of this concert at Carnegie Hall last spring; this CD was recorded a few weeks later at Wigmore Hall, and I think the Londoners got the better performance, because again, while what I heard was good, this was utterly amazing. Every note of this performance is alive.

Röschmann and Uchida perform three sets of songs, Schumann’s Op. 39 Liederkreis, Berg’s Seven Early Songs, and Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben.

Uchida’s piano playing reveals that the piano part in these songs is not just “accompaniment” but rather a second voice in the piece. She brings out details that I had not registered before – the heartbeat pulse of the piano part in “Intermezzo” in the Leiderkreis, the way the piano lines wrap up the story of witch and wanderer in “Waldesgespräch”, the rushing of the little brook in “In der Fremde” or the simple glow of happiness in “Frühlingsnacht.” I was just listening to bits of the recital again as I write this (sometimes I can figure out what I was talking about in my original chickenscratch notes; other times – as is common with important historical documents – the notes are written in a left-handed scrawl so impenetrably awful that I have to go back and re-create the moment in order to interpret the record) and a second listen does nothing but confirm Uchida’s power to make the piano part speak.

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Music for No Longer Being In the Atlanta Airport

I caught a bit of a Sarah Connolly bug at Carnegie Hall on Sunday:

And I had a lot of time to consider my options, purchases-wise, because I was stuck overnight in Atlanta. In the airport. Apparently I don’t rate a hotel voucher. Though I have to say, I slept well – the seats there don’t have arm-rests, and a Delta employee went rogue and handed out blankets. I also got a free toiletry kit. But it was a dude toiletry kit – razors and shaving cream are of no use to me in an overnight-stranded sort of situation, and I would have appreciated some face-cleaner. (Anyone want a size X-Large men’s t-shirt that says “Delta Sky Team”? Because I have one.) However. It’s over now.

And I got to play a fun game of Spot the Debris on the way home! (There is a lot of road debris around here for some reason. Most of it of the formerly alive variety.) I was driving southeast, and on the opposite side of the freeway, I saw a large cardboard box blocking one lane. Like a big shipping container type cardboard box. It shuddered in the wind when the semis went by. I was thinking about stopping and calling whatever the non-emergency version of 911 is, because it seemed kind of dangerous, but then I saw a state patrol car zip by going the other way, and my sense was that whether he or she knew about it in advance or not, that cop was going to find that box. So I went back to listening to Vivaldi’s Bajazet with a clear conscience.

Weekend 12-29-12

I’m not sure what to do! The library has closed until I think Wednesday, and since the campus post office has also shut down, and the DVD I had coming in the mail (that Met Rodelinda) was going to my work address, the DVD will also be hostage until Wednesday. My impulse is to watch something over again, but I’m not sure what. Either that or I will have to trawl YouTube for complete operas.

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Weekend 9-29-12

It’s been an interesting week. Student to me after seeing her grade on her paper: “Can I just hug you?” (Expression on my face: “Please don’t.” I mean, I like hugs as much as the next person, but only from people I know well and who are not my students.) And the Insomnia Fairy seems to have busied herself elsewhere, so I actually got some sleep last night.

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More dogs

So, I called the Humane Society shelter this afternoon to see if anyone had come to claim that poor dog that staked out my house last week. No one has, and I was told that the dog is available for adoption. I am extremely tempted. All I would have to do is fix the fence to my back yard, and get a cover for the couch . . . what stops me is the fact that I travel a lot, although there is a place to board dogs in town that a number of people have recommended and said good things about. Agggh! Decisions!

Besides, what if I ended up with a dog that hated opera? This is too terrifying a prospect even to consider.

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Weekend 9-16-12

I discovered an interesting fact about my satellite internet service this week. (I severely cut back on caffeine this week. I quit drinking coffee. I’m still drinking tea – I mean, I’m not crazy, right? – but the lack of coffee means that sometimes I end up staring into space thinking about nothing. Thinking about nothing sometimes leads to insights and/or discoveries, but most of these tend to be pointless or at best very small.) The interesting fact is that when I’m at work, I show up on my little map at the bottom of each page on this blog in roughly my correct location. When I’m at home, I appear to be in Arkansas. I am not in Arkansas. I have never even been to Arkansas. But I guess this internet provider has some sort of router or station or transmission widget in that area, because that is where my little dot on the map appears.

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Weekend 9-8-12

This weekend’s treat is Edita Gruberova singing Elizabeth in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. Roberto Devereux and I go back a ways, but I haven’t listened to this opera in ages – rather looking forward to it. It’s one of those ones that I really wish I could see live sometime, just for the hell of it, but I’ve never run across a staging of it that I had any reasonable way of getting to. (It doesn’t seem to be performed as often as Anna Bolena or Maria Stuarda, which is kind of a shame, I think. Although musically I like Anna Bolena better.)

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Music for a twisted ankle

Not twisted by anything exciting, either, like rock climbing or skateboarding. No. I managed to gimp myself up by . . . stepping off a curb. So I have both the twisted ankle and a bruise on my other knee that looks like someone whacked me across the leg with a lead pipe. I’m feeling slightly stupid as well as a little sore, so I distracted myself by listening to the Kodály Quartet minus one violinist play Beethoven’s Op. 3 and Op. 8 string trios. One of those deliciously cheap (and good) Naxos recordings.

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Weekend 8-26-12

I’ve had Gluck’s “che farò senza Euridice” in my head since I woke up this morning. I have no idea why, given that the last thing I listened to, yesterday afternoon, was Verdi. It made me think of the first time I heard the aria, which as far as I know was on one of Magdalena Kožená’s recital CDs, over ten years ago. (I just checked – it’s the one called Le belle immagine and I think it’s got a picture on the booklet of her on a raft on some river. Recital CDs: they’re odd sometimes, aren’t they, as far as the packaging goes. It often just seems silly to me, but I’m sure it’s all carefully thought out and all that.) It made me think that I should go through my CD collection and listen to the all the ones, like that one, that I had either gotten sick of, or forgotten about, or lost interest in.

Weekend 8-25-12

I think I will continue the Verdi/Shakespeare theme this weekend and go with Macbeth. I’m feeling like a little blood and gore and high drama.

One of my colleagues got a fantastic email from a student this week. No salutation, no signature, just a single sentence: “On behalf of the reading, I couldn’t open it.”

Weekend 8-18-12

Finally, a day where I don’t have to set an alarm in the morning. My colleagues who are also new and I discussed the matter, and the collective determination was that yesterday’s new faculty orientation that began at 7.30 am was Not Cool. I mean, I appreciate finishing up at 2.45, but the fact that we started so early meant that I simply spent the rest of the afternoon in my office attempting not to fall asleep. And then we had another reception! This one was better, though, since it was just the history department and I knew all the people and we were all historians and could talk about actual things.

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Weekend 8-12-12

I got roped into indulging in that great American tradition known as the cook-out this weekend, which means that I am currently covered in mosquito bites even though I was wearing so much mosquito repellent yesterday afternoon that the inside of my mouth tasted like DEET. Fortunately you can kill that particular flavor with beer.

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Weekend 8-11-12

Bit of an unintended opera retread this week – over a period of a few days, I watched both the Styriarte version of The Bartered Bride and the Guth Figaro. Or part of it, it anyway. My god – the slowness of the overture. It’s like you can hear every last note move into position and then drop into place. I don’t dislike it, though. It fits with what the production does to the story, with all the slow stylized gestures and the big empty grim-looking interiors.

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