Thursday, August 26, 2010

Giacinto Scelsi's mature music is marked by a supreme concentration on single notes, combined with a masterly sense of form. Scelsi revolutionized the role of sound in western music, and his best known work is the Quattro Pezzi per Orchestra/Four Pieces for Orchestra (1959), each on a single note. These single notes are elaborated through microtonal shadings, harmonic allusions, and variations in timbre and dynamics. It is impossible to express the immense power of this apparently simple music in words - (Todd McComb/ClassicalNet). Hear what Todd McComb is writing about in a performance of Scelsi's Quattro Pezzi by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra with Peter Rundel conducting . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Hubert Culot (MusicWeb International) writes that, "Isang Yun is undoubtedly the most important composer to have emerged from Korea during the second half of the 20th century. He studied with Boris Blacher who made him aware of modern techniques, such as twelve-tone and serial writing; these Yun adopted without ever strictly adhering to them. His music is rooted in classical Korean music, of which we know very little, whereas its formal framework is often found in 20th century music. Although some of his earlier pieces are more experimental or more overtly "modern", Yun steered clear of strict serial practice, and allowed his deeply rooted lyricism to flower freely". Read more of this CD review and hear excerpts from Capriccio Record's CD of "Chamber Music by Isang Yun" . . . it's our FEATURED RECORDING here at Pytheas.

The film How Green Was My Valley (1941) is one of John Ford's masterpieces of sentimental human drama. It is the melodramatic and nostalgic story, adapted by screenwriter Philip Dunne from Richard Llewellyn's best-selling novel, of a close-knit, hard-working Welsh coal-mining family at the turn of the 20th century as a socio-economic way of life passes and the home-family unit disintegrates. Episodic incidents in everyday life convey the changes, trials, setbacks, and joys of the hard-bitten community as it faces growing unemployment, distressing work conditions, unrest, unionization and labor-capital disputes, and personal tragedy. Domestic life, romance, harsh treatment at school, the departure of two boys to find their fortune in America, unrequited love between the local preacher (Walter Pidgeon) and the only Morgan daughter (beautiful 19 year old Irish actress Maureen O'Hara), and other events are portrayed within this warm, human story. The original musical score by the great Alfred Newman was nominated for an Academy Award. Watch an excerpt from this classic film . . . our current PYTHEAS SIGHTING.

Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, written between 1938 and 1946 (and completed two years AFTER the Violin Sonata No. 2), is one of the darkest and most brooding of the composer's works. Prokofiev described the slithering violin scales at the end of the 1st and 4th movements as "wind passing through a graveyard". The work was premiered by violinist David Oistrakh and pianist Lev Oborin, under the personal coaching of the composer. During rehearsals, Oborin played a certain passage, marked forte (loud), too gently for Prokofiev's liking, who insisted it should be more aggressive. Oborin replied that he was afraid of drowning out the violin, but Prokofiev said "It should sound in such a way that people should jump in their seat, and say 'Is he out of his mind?'". Watch a performance of the 4th movement of Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 1 by violinist Xenia Akeynikov . . . this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

Explore, Listen and Enjoy!
Vinny Fuerst
Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music

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