Sunday, June 12, 2011

#163 The Smell of Drinking Wine

Subtle shines, darker deeps–this is like drinking red wine. It flows, gets excited, slows down, keeps you enchanted. The smell is literal and very physical. Last drops of wine fall down to a wooden table. It's not a big splash, just puddles you want to put your fingers to.

Baltimore orchestra has a beautiful and accented sound, clear and full. Alsop honors the dynamics and her reading is actually pretty classical yet somehow she catches your attention so you want to hear it again.

Dvořák: Symphony #7 In D Minor, Op. 70 - 3. Scherzo by Marin Alsop: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Grooveshark

Composer: Antonín Dvořák
Work: Symphony No 7, III. Scherzo: Vivace – Poco meno mosso
Recording: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop

Saturday, June 11, 2011

#162 The Smell of Aging

Moving continuously, never stopping, never resting but not growing, not building anything: mining, going under surface and beyond. It dissects us, our surroundings, leaving us sad, empty, awaiting. The effect is hollow, the experience is the aging.

Bělohlávek delivers rich, spontaneous performance. Strings soften the shades, wood instruments are so crushing, rapacious.

II. Poco allegro inquieto e poco rubato by Bělohlávek, BBCSO on Grooveshark

Composer: Josef Suk
Work: Ripening, II. Poco allegro inquieto e poco rubato
Recording: Jiří Bělohlávek, BBC Symphony Orchestra

Friday, June 10, 2011

#161 The Smell of Provocation

Sunny, excited, sexy piece of music. It's a call for play, for acting out. Smile and dance!

Kunzel's reading is an unsurprising classics. Playful and intensive even in the middle calm passage.

Composer: George Gershwin
Work: Cuban Overture
Recording: Cincinnati Pop Orchestra, Erich Kunzel

Thursday, June 9, 2011

#160 The Smell of Stubbornness

The introduction to A Hero's Life is heavy and stubborn. It's a statement: unforgiving, accountable, exclamatory. It's not heroic; it's standing on its own terms.

Haitink is broad and generous. In CSO, we're getting a not-all-orchestras-are-equal sound.

Composer: Richard Strauss
Work: Ein Heldenleben, I. Der Held
Recording: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Bernard Haitink

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

#159 The Smell of Klezmer

One may need to hear Uri Caine first to recognize how Jewish this symphony is. It's marvelous how this is pushed a little bit, that is being pulled against it timing... And then, at 5'23'', all the small nets are torn apart with one grand shift. The real trauermarsch starts at 7'46'', when nothing is left and nothing–despite all the attempts–can be built.

Dudamel is very soft and flexible in this recording. Listen to the wheel at 1'09'' and again at 3'01'', how it starts turning. Fresh, subtle account, and very sad. The sorrow of the last minute is unbearable.

Composer: Gustav Mahler
Work: Symphony No 5, I. Trauermarsch
Recording: Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

#158 The Smell of Melting

Light and grace of Spain! I can't do it often but today is the day. The layers of voices are interlaced and superimposed, and melted together, and layered again, till alleluia.

JEG and his Monteverdi Choir is so special, unbeatable. Very touching, sublime. They're not just singing, it's somehow more inner.

Composer: Tomás Luis de Victoria
Work: O lux et decus Hispaniae
Recording: The Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner

Monday, June 6, 2011

#157 The Smell of Traffic

Unmistakeable klaxon sound, traffic, bustle... welcome to Paris! And then such a luminous cooling down and my favorite part at 7'27'': walking on the sly, and the melody that takes you onward.

Bernstein is having a good time here. Switching moods, balancing classical and jazz, fun and sentiment, excitement and homesickness, he pretty much sets the standard.

Composer: George Gershwin
Work: An American in Paris
Recording: New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein

Sunday, June 5, 2011

#156 The Smell of Sunshine

This wedding march is so gentle, so fragile. It is full of hope and expectation but the feelings are mixed–death is near. Sun is rising but for how long?

Bělohlávek works magically with dynamics, and wonderfully balances the sound of orchestra and chorus.

Composer: Antonín Dvořák
Work: Rusalka, "Květiny bílé po cestě"
Recording: Mischa Schelomianski, Glyndebourne Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek

Saturday, June 4, 2011

#155 The Smell of Sewer

Go weak at the knees. Be a puppet, let the music swing you. Enjoy the moment where cello pretends it's a jazzy bass. Subject to the rhythms.

It's a dance that does not require any progression. And it smells wet and dirty. Gutter on your shoes squelches when you're dancing on a street, under the only street light that's still on...

Composer: Jan Novák
Work: Capriccio for cello and small orchestra, III. Allegro
Recording: Jiří Bárta, Prague Philharmonia, Jakub Hrůša

Friday, June 3, 2011

#154 The Smell of Rage

It starts so decently, and it ends so perversely. Fully controlled, beautifully shaped, subtle jazzy. Then, the tired instruments are all game, funny and cheerful. The game, however, does not end well. The final march is full of rage, full of hate, full of fester.

Petrenko builds the emotions finely, carefully, and clearly, keeping the move from the very beginning and never letting it go.

Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
Work: Symphony No 10, IV. Andante – Allegro
Recording: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko

Thursday, June 2, 2011

#153 The Smell of Stairway

This composition runs on and up, it's a stairway, sometimes massive, sometimes steep but still grand. You have to run the stairs–there are spots where you can breathe out but in these moments, hunting memories are coming to your head: go, go!

Argerich on her debut recital album is marvelous. She unstoppable, raved. But don't think about it as about a romantic aberrance–this is well structured, totally controlled performance. Very Brahms, very Argerich.

Composer: Johannes Brahms
Work: Rhapsody No 1
Recording: Martha Argerich

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

#152 The Smell of Ants

It smells of noise, systematic, strategic noise. Ants in rows, exploring new paths. Communication signals. Shapes and contours.

How mechanical is it? How creative? How self-organized...

Composer: Alwin Nikolais
Work: Electronic Dance Music: Frail Demons: Dance 1
Recording: Maro Ajemian