Saturday, August 15, 2020

links for the weekend, first Terry Teachout on Julian Bream, there's a book out on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife forgery, and assorted links on stuff in the vein of American civic religions in electoral and academic contexts

There's stuff incubating in the offline world that can, perhaps, get published later. For now, though, links for the weekend stuff.

In keeping with the news cycle, Terry Teachout revisits his earlier comments about the guitarist Julian Bream.
Julian Bream, who gave a recital Tuesday at Alice Tully Hall, made his professional debut a half-century ago. When he started out, guitar recitals consisted of fluff: second-rate Spanish pieces, miscellaneous arrangements and transcriptions, encore-type lollipops. Today, classical guitarists have a huge repertoire of challenging music on which to draw, much of it—including most of the best of it—either discovered or commissioned by Bream. No one since Andres Segovia has had so powerful an influence on guitar playing, and no one has played the guitar better.

I recall Matanya Ophee saying that if all you want to do is play "lollipop" music and your audience wants that, great, but that if you aspire to more challenging and ambitious music to not follow the herd instinct.

more links after the break

a little something about Bream from the NYT obit: he started out on piano and cello and took up guitar after hearing Django Reinhardt

There's something that jumped out at me in the New York Times obituary of Julian Bream, who was one of the most significant pioneers of what we generally call the classical guitar in the West.  There are several things that sprung to mind but it's easier to highlight them in the obit itself than provide any further introduction:

Philip Ewell: "Exactly seven persons have written to me ... mean commentary about my work ... all pianists", because white guy pianists committed knowingly or not to a Germanophile art-religion would have the most to lose from Ewell's proposals
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Over two years ago, when I began this work, I knew that I’d lose some friends and colleagues once it came out. I speculated that, for every friend/colleague lost, I’d gain two or even three more. I was wrong. For every friend lost there have been more like 20–30 friends gained. It’s not even close. Exactly seven persons have written to me with angry, sarcastic, and mean commentary about my work. None of them engage my scholarship, but just call me an “idiot,” “racist,” or “inept.” They are all white men. And, also significant I think, all pianists.   ...

Friday, August 14, 2020

Julian Bream, 1933-2020
Bream playing Benjamin Britten's Nocturnal After John Dowland

Bream playing movement 1 of Toru Takemitsu's All in Twilight, one of my favorite works of any written for the guitar.

I know for many a guitarist Segovia was the greatest 20th century guitarist but for me it's pretty much always been Julian Bream, both for his playing music ranging from the Elizabethan era to contemporary music by Britten, Takemitsu and William Walton (or Martin, for that matter) to his role in commissioning works from contemporary composers.  Bream's musical life distills for me what a musician ought to do, cultivating a deep knowledge of the musical past that is equally attentive to the possibilities of the musical present and future.  I'm not sure I even have more I could meaningfully add to that.   Maybe I'll have more thoughts later but at the moment I don't.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Ivo Papazov - "Ratchenitza"/Trio Ralchev-Ogura-Ourkouzounov

Mie Ogura and Atanas Ourkouzounov have been my favorite flute and guitar duo for at least a decade by now and in the last year they've been playing trios with accordionist Petar Ralchev.

I sure hope there can be an album of music from this trio. :)