Friday, February 20, 2009

Thumbing Nose At Fierce Global Recession, Pan Cogito, Never Before A Conspicuous Consumer, Buys A Washing Machine … In Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Europe

But since man has a spirit as well as a body, here is a link to Thomas May's program note to the San Francisco Symphony premiere performance of Sofia Gubaidulina’s The Light of the End:

... “Yet even such ostensibly secular genres as the symphony and concerto reveal a potential to convey Gubaidulina’s mystical perspective and appeal to rich symbolism. Her 1986 work Stimmen … verstummen … (“Voices . . . fall silent . . .”) takes a characteristically novel approach to symphonic conflict, generated here from the tension between simplicity (represented by a stable chord) and increasing complexity. It was her First Violin Concerto, written for Gidon Kremer, that paved the way toward Gubaidulina’s international breakthrough in 1981. Subtitled Offertorium, this work enacts the idea of a sacrificial offering by breaking down and then reconstituting the main theme of Bach’s A Musical Offering. (Gubaidulina’s Second Violin Concerto, In tempus praesens, receives its North American premiere by Anne-Sophie Mutter in next week’s concerts.)

The Light of the End is a recent symphonic composition that reflects many of Gubaidulina’s abiding concerns. As in so many of her works, a purely musical issue serves as the point of entry for a meditation of spiritual import that speaks to the human condition. The musical issue in question is the conflict between natural and conventional tuning.

Since the time of Bach—whose Well-Tempered Clavier codified the convention whereby the twelve tones of the chromatic scale are adjusted to form equidistant intervals—Western ears have come to accept this agreed-on “compromise” as the proper order of things. It is in fact a convention—an illusion of sorts—which is maintained in an orchestral ensemble by, if you will, a kind of trickery. The situation becomes especially obvious in the family of brass instruments, whose intrinsic “natural” sounds have to be adjusted by the player’s mouth to conform with the tempered scale of twelve tones.” …


Header photo credit: Sofia Gubaidulina & Miriam Makeba at the Polar Music Prize, 2002. (c) Micael Engstrom 2002. Copyright controlled. With thanks.


Past Polar Music Prize winners:

2008 - Renee Fleming and Pink Floyd

2007 - Steve Reich and Sonny Rollins

2006 - Valery Gergiev and Led Zeppelin

2005 - Gilberto Gil and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

2004 - B. B. King and Gyorgy Ligeti

2003 - Keith Jarrett

2002 - Sofia Gubaidulina and Miriam Makeba

2001 - Burt Bacharach, Robert Moog and Karlheinz Stockhausen

2000 - Isaac Stern and Bob Dylan

1999 - Iannis Xenakis and Stevie Wonder

1998 - Ravi Shankar and Ray Charles

1997 - Eric Ericson and Bruce Springsteen

1996 - Joni Mitchell and Pierre Boulez

1995 - Mstislav Rostropovitch and Elton John

1994 - Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Quincy Jones

1993 - Witold Lutoslawski and Dizzy Gillespie

1992 - Sir Paul McCartney and The Baltic States


Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Future European Union.

"The most famous park of Zhytomyr is one named after cosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin. The park is located in the south of the city, at the left (northern) bank of the Teteriv river. It is a former property of the Baron de Chaudoir." [The new, fairly small Zhytomyr Philharmonic Hall, which commenced construction in the late 1980s, resumed construction in the mid 2000s.]


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