Saturday, January 26, 2013

Old Friends

Readers of the national site I maintain for have probably noticed that I have ramped up considerably on the time I use to put into writing about recordings. As a result, last December was the first time I felt justified in writing a retrospective "memorable recordings" article as a "year in review" piece. That piece, in turn, had been inspired in no small part by the discovery that several of the GRAMMY nominations in both classical and jazz had been recordings that I had "examined." (Mind you, I shall be very surprised if any of my "picks" actually get an award; but at least it will be a pleasant surprise.)

In going after new recordings, my first priority is the expansion of my listening repertoire. I feel it is necessary to say something about composers, compositions, and sometimes performers that have been undeservedly neglected by "the industry." Also, because of my ongoing obsession over lack of attention to history, I like to discuss "historical" recordings, both those going through reissue or those that have simply been lying there with little regard.

One result of this shift in focus is that the collection I put so many years into accumulating has been getting less attention than usual. I may consult it for reference when I am writing about a composition or performance which which I have a recorded document, but I spend less time browsing the drawers of my CD cabinet just for the sake to listening to something I have not spent time with for a while. In that respect this is currently a good time for me, a narrow window during which it is too early to write about any of the recordings about to be released.

Interestingly enough, I seem to be turning back to my Philips recordings of the Schönberg Ensemble performing the music of their namesake. This is not because Arnold Schoenberg has not been getting attention in recent releases, particularly since last year was the centennial for the first performance of Pierrot Lunaire (one year before "The Rite of Spring," mind you). Rather, it is a matter of keeping Schoenberg's rhetoric fresh in my head, since it is so unique that it is seldom (if ever) reinforced by any of the composers that followed him. Furthermore, there just are not that many opportunities to hear Schoenberg in concert here in San Francisco; and, now that the Pierrot centennial has passed, there will probably be even fewer.

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