Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Philharmonia Quartett Berlin

This evening Mighty Reader and I are going to hear the Philharmonia Quartett Berlin. Imagine my surprise when I received the email just now from Mighty Reader asking what time and where we were to meet beforehand. Honestly, I thought the concert was tomorrow. That's the danger of picking up tickets at the will-call window: sometimes you just forget that you have a date. Just last Friday my friend Theodore and I were talking about how easy it is to let these dates slip past. Thankfully Mighty Reader scribbled something on her calendar at work.

Anyway, the quartet comes highly recommended:

“Warmth, clarity and a sense of drama on a human scale… the playing was brilliant.”
--The Oregonian

Says the Arts website of the group:

Founded in 1984 by the principal concertmaster and the string section leaders of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, this ensemble has toured extensively in Europe, Asia, and throughout South and North America. The Quartett’s musical range is considerable; their discography includes recordings of works by Mendelssohn, Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich and Reger.

Program (subject to change):

Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 138
Beethoven: String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2
Debussy: String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10

I'm familiar with the Beethoven and the Debussy; I have not had the pleasure of this particular Shostakovich quartet, so I'm all a-quiver with anticipation.

In other news:

I did no writing at all over the three-day MLK weekend. I've been closing in on the end of first-round revisions to Cocke & Bull but could not face the work and instead read a lot: Michelle Davidson Argyle's novella Thirds (got through in but two sittings), a handful of stories from My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, a couple of chapters from Eels, a few Chinese folk tales, a couple of chapters from The Novel: A History and there was some other non-fiction reading as well but I forget which.

I intend to finish revisions to the novel by the end of the week, however, and hopefully I'll get my changes typed up into the Word(tm) document next weekend. I hate that step in the process, really I do. I've got about 80 pages left to read through this go-round. I expect to start in again at the beginning of February by reading through the novel and making more revisions. Constant revisions are the way to success, kids.

My violin has been giving me forlorn "Why did you spend thousands of dollars on me and make all those promises if you're only going to keep me in my case?" looks so I gave it some attention yesterday. Scales, arpeggios, some etudes (I should dig out my Sevcik books because Sevcik is like chemotherapy in that it's certainly toxic but a short program of it will cure you of horrible ills) and then Bach, Mozart, Bach, Monti and more Bach. Also some Bartok. I am attempting to increase the size of my repertoire. Someone must explain to me why the B section of every interesting piece of music is much more technically difficult than the A section.

Also, one of my coworkers greeted me thusly this morning: "Mr. Bailey, I am ready for the weekend." Me, too.


  1. Nevets: Well, it's easier Bartok (the Romanian Folk Dances). I'll never play his concertos or "Contrasts" or anything like that. Someday I'll get with another fiddler and work through the violin duets. Those are cool.

  2. Easier or not, the Romanian Folk Dances are still cool. I didn't discover Bartok until college and I remember feeling ripped off. haha Strikes a chord with me.

    So to speak.

  3. Er... Ripped off as in, "Why have people not played this music for me until now?"

  4. My first encounter with Bartok was an LP of his 1st and 3rd quartet with about a dozen of the violin duets to pad it out (a fine out-of-print recording by the Endellion Quartet). I remember thinking, "Where has this music been all my life?" Bela Bartok totally turned my head around regarding music. If you like Bartok, you should also listen to Janacek, Ligeti, Kodaly and that lot. If you don't already. For really "out there" listening, there are also Webern's pieces for string quartet. We heard the Emersons play some last year (or the year before; I forget) and it was fabu and wondrous strange.

  5. I've heard Janacek, and I remember loving it, but I think it slipped off my radar for some reason. I will dig into these folks' music. Thanks for the tip, Scott!

  6. Lots of reading! I need a week to just read. I'll devour a few books. "My Mother..." should be getting here soon from Amazon. I hope you enjoy the quartet tonight!