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dvorakI know that I’ve been enthusing over Baroque composers almost exclusively recently so this might seem a bit of a jolt, but I must say again that I enjoy Antonín Dvorák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Opus 81, more and more every time I hear it.

LEISURE RINGS Yesterday, after weeks and weeks of planning, the eldest gel and one of her little 5th Grade friends got together to watch the first Lord of the Rings movie.  (They plan to watch the other two together in the near future as time permits.)

The gel had never seen LOTR on screen before and I was somewhat apprehensive about what her reaction might be.  In our readings of the novels, we are now just short of the attack on Minas Tirith in The Return of the King, and after many hundreds of pages I knew that she had formed some pretty definite opinions about the way things ought to be in Middle Earth.  I didn’t want her to ruin things either for herself or for her friend, so for some time now I’ve been counseling her to keep an open mind when she finally saw the movie.

So late in the afternoon I drove over to pick the gel up after it was all over.  As we climbed into the ol’ jeep, I said, “Well?  What did you think?”

Her response? “It was okay.  But why did Frodo always look like he was about to throw up?”

Why, indeed.

I couldn’t get much more reaction out of the gel than that.  Apparently, she and her friend spent most of their time drooling over Orlando Bloom and didn’t pay all that much attention to the actual plot after he appeared.

corelliThe great violinist, composer and teacher was born this day in 1653 in Fusignano, Italy.

I am not a string player, so can say very little about Corelli’s contribution to the art form except that he was an immensely popular virtuoso of his time and I understand the influence of his teachings and technique continues even today.

I can speak more to his musickal composition.  Corelli is sometimes call the “Father of the Concerto Grosso,” that is, of a concerto featuring two contrasting groups of instruments, one smaller (the “concertino“) and one larger (the “ripieno“).  Among others, his works influenced the great heavyweights of the late Baroque, Vivaldi, Handel and Bach.

If you do not already own a complete set of Corelli’s Opus 6 Concerti Grossi and a collection of his Trio Sonatas, may I humbly suggest that you scootch out and obtain them as soon as possible?  I have recordings by Trevor Pinnock and his pals of the English Concert, but I’m sure there are plenty of other performances available as well.  Just make sure and find a recent, period instrument recording of these concerti, because the older, big orchestra treatments tend to drag and don’t bring out the fully glory of the works.

“If God had been a liberal we wouldn’t have had the Ten Commandments; we’d have the Ten Suggestions.”

– Malcolm Bradbury.

I’m starting in on Bradbury’s 1959 campus satire Eating People Is Wrong and, doing a little background research, came across this quote.  Frankly, I prefer it to the one about the Episcopal Church that was so liberal it had six Commandments and four Suggestions, a joke I first heard Garrison Keillor tell and who I now suspect swiped it from Bradbury.


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February 2009