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Friday, June 02, 2006
What's with those soft, high string cluster openings?

For their second Mainly Mozart concert, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano performed two works by living composers, Osvaldo Golijov and David Stock. David's piece had an interesting genesis. The Cuarteto Latinoamericano were asked to play a concert and include a Sephardic melody in their recital. They were over at Stock's house for dinner, and bemoaned that they didn't have such a work in their repertory, and they didn't know where to find one. "I'll write the piece for you!" David exclaimed. "When do you need it?" "In two weeks," said the first violinist. "I'll have it in the mail by the 21st," he confidently replied, and sure enough he wrote them the piece. (He had a little head start composing in that he adapted part of the work from an existing orchestral piece.)

Here are some excerpts from my review of the concert:

Yiddishbbuk, written in 1992, became Golijov's calling card work, enabling him to snag commissions from important groups and organizations such as the Kronos Quartet. Subtitled Inscriptions for String Quartet, the work was inspired by psalms cited in Kafka's notebooks (did he make them up, or did such a book really exist?). In their original publication, the psalms were surrounded by what could possibly be musical notation, and Golijov tried to imagine what this music would sound like. The music is written in a hair-curling modern musical idiom, and while some may find it off-putting, the emotional impact of this music cannot be denied, an overall feeling of loss, a series of mournful wailings, and in the first movement, cries of terror.

Evoking terror is appropriate in the first movement of Yiddishbbuk as it commemorates three children who died at the Terezin concentration camp, their poems and artwork preserved in the rather well-known Holocaust book, I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Dozens of composers have set these poems to music or tried to evoke the book's sentiment, but none have succeeded as well as Golijov. Bows clatter col legno on strings, musical screams of anguish cut through the frightening textures, and loud, abrasive chords brutally pound away. The remaining two movements are inscribed to Isaac Bashevis Singer and Leonard Bernstein, and although Golijov's harmonies are totally modern, there is no mistaking the doleful tone of these contemporary lamentations...

...Like Golijov, David Stock is another composer who was writing in a modernist idiom, and began to incorporate popular and ethnic musical influences, in addition to allowing tonal chords back into his harmonic palette. In the 1970's, Stock wrote several works in which jazz and modern music co-existed. Stock taught at Antioch when avant-garde jazz composer-pianist Cecil Taylor was there, and he also did a stint at New England Conservatory where the grandfather of Third Stream music, Gunther Schuller, presided, so it's not surprising that Stock would explore that blend of styles. In the 1980's, Stock composed works that incorporated Jewish music, including a work for the same ensemble as Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat which featured a clarinet part straight out of klezmer.

Unlike Golijov, who currently appears to be an uncanny musical chameleon assuming the identity of the popular styles he evokes, Stock's excursions into Jewish music are clearly those of a contemporary classical composer using popular music as source material for his compositions. This is true of Sueños de Sefarad, composed three months ago, which incorporates a number of Sephardic melodies. I'm unfamiliar with the original tunes, but they sounded intact with little elaboration or development, the variety and form created by a different type of accompaniment (based on tonal harmonies with mild dissonances added) for each melody. An unusual formal aspect of this work was that Stock never ended each melody, ending on the penultimate note instead. This created a chain of small-scale pieces, each one propelled into the next by each tune never being resolved. Does this in some way reflect on the expulsion of the Sephardim from Spain in 1492 (which Stock references in his program note)? In Stock's treatment, the Sephardic melodies never come to rest; the final note of a melody, the tonic, is often described as the "home" note in the scale, the ultimate point of arrival and rest. Not until the final section does Stock allow a melody to finally fully conclude.

Most of the melodies chosen were melancholy strains in minor modes, although Stock also used some lively tunes where major chords and fast dance tempos dominated. In a curious coincidence, Sueños de Sefarad began exactly as Gabriela Ortiz's Aroma Foliado: the violins and viola sustain a high, soft, vibratoless, tightly compacted chord, against which the cello enters with a melody. Yiddishbbuk also opens with a high, glassy, cluster, but the chord crescendos from silence to fortissimo, serving as a brief sonic diving board into a pool of loud bow-struck strings and anguished cello wailing. Coincidence? Or contemporary cliché?

More on Golijov and Stock (and Mendelssohn and Mozart) here.
Taking the Long Way

Maturity is when you're no longer embarassed by the behavior of your relatives and friends. Senility is when you are no longer embarassed by your own. A few days ago, in the course of responding to Brian Doherty's post at Reason about the unbearable lightness of political pop I alleged that Doherty must be "ancient" since I had known him about a hundred years ago. Alas, the person I knew a hundred years ago was Brian O'Doherty, an art critic and artist who works under the name Patrick Ireland. The Brian Doherty from Reason turned 38 yesterday which means he was born while I was defending the Free World from the domino theory in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. My apologies to Brian, the younger, who sent a nice note. Senility is also an opportunity to meet new people every day--some of whom you don't even know.

I do note, with some pleasure, that the Dixie Chicks' new album stormed in at number one on the Billboard Hot 200 yesterday despite being snubbed by country radio. That suggests to me that more people are keeping score at home than one might think.

Anybody going to be in New Haven on June 16? Tom Izzo's SOUNDunderGROUND is presenting and evening of Avant-Garde Vaudeville. If you'd like to review it, send me a note and Tom will get you in free.
The American Modern Ensemble plays Steven Stucky at Tenri Cultural Center

Why or how a composer reaches a plateau of professional esteem translating to awards, commissions and prestigious residencies during his lifetime remains, in the end, a mystery more elusive than the verdict of history. In truth, history has told us of composers who enjoyed great prestige during their lives only to be neglected by future generations; or of others who toiled in relative obscurity, earning canonization after their deaths. Why do some artists navigate skillfully through fame and fortune while others miss the mark in their own time? Is it that some commit to an expressive path against the thrust of a prevailing style? Or some others are based on locations without resources of marketing, connections, or funding? Is it perhaps that some know how to explain themselves to the public even before the music begins? In the end, even those composers unknown to the powers-that-be have at least a close circle of admirers who will champion their music for years to come. The reception of a work, intimate or global, coexists with it and has a meaning of its own.

For us conductors devoted to new music, the fame a living composer earns elsewhere often prompts us to examine the music with a certain diligence, if only to make sure that we remain au courant with what represents the best of the art in our time as we offer it to our audiences. I entertain these reflections because Steven Stucky seems to have reached both the plateau of professional prestige and the devotion of both powerful supporters and loyal students, as was demonstrated in the disciplined performances by the American Modern Ensemble under the direction on Rob Paterson, a former pupil, last Saturday May 27 at the Tenri Cultural Institute. The more I reflected on the performance, the more I noticed how Stucky's art involves not only his compositions, but a clear understanding of what he does and how he wishes the audience to appreciate him..

Stucky, born in 1949, has rounded up some impressive achievements, including a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his Second Concerto for Orchestra; an enduring relationship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as its composer-in-residency, the longest such relationship in the United States; a respected faculty position at Cornell University; and continuing commissions. Rob Paterson took a moment to extol the virtues of Steven Stucky as a conductor and as a writer, given that Stucky is also a respected Lutoslawski scholar. Indeed, Stucky's program notes were unassumingly articulate, managing to engage the audience with the human side of his personal quests and struggles as an artist, while carefully delineating his compositional aims and the salient features worth listening for. I dare say that Stucky's use of the program note to guide the audience's perception is masterful, and for those who read them, conducive to the full enjoyment of his music..

From the vantage point of this retrospective concert, Steven Stucky appeared first to be a neoclassicist, reconsidering historical styles and techniques. A unifying emotional atmosphere pervaded the whole program with a somewhat Mendelssohnian quality, imbued with amiability, facility, impeccable orchestration and an tendency towards balance and symmetry in the formal designs. Each instrument was always presented at is best, touching no extremes and taxing no resources. In a conversation with Paterson during intermission Stucky acknowledged imbibing from the music of Debussy, Bartok, Prokofiev and Lutoslawski. Indeed, one could clearly hear these influences as if a gracious tradition had been transmitted without the now well-known convulsions of atonality, serialism, and radical experimentalism.

As the concert went on, other composers besides those mentioned also appeared, and the early neoclassicist impression was contradicted by the fact that a linear narrative did not appear to be Stucky's main concern in the presented works. Instead, his approach resembled more that of a collector, revisiting musical gestures and textures by other composers as objects of intrinsic value worth displaying next to each other as related by his love for them. This was the overt intent in Partita-Pastorale after J.S.B, composed for the BBC for the anniversary celebrations of Bach in 2000. Stucky connected fragments of several works by Bach with his own commentary without any extraordinary effort to establish unity. Listening to this work reminded me of architect Renzo Piano's passageway connections between the separate buildings of the Morgan Library in New York, which I had viewed earlier in the afternoon, and I rejoiced in the coincidence of the experience.

The prevalence of small formal gestures continued through Album Leaves, an ostensibly open-ended series of character pieces for piano with clear homages to Debussy and Prokofiev, and played with assurance and wit by Blair MacMillen. Once more the program notes established clear expectations, which as they were met, excited a warm applause from the public. In the following Piano Quartet however, the sense of intimidation Stucky confesses in his notes does indeed reflect in a certain emotional decorum preventing him from dwelling fully into the material. The conflicts in this quartet may offer the opportunity for a good study in the power --and perils--of musical rhetoric for an adventurous soul somewhere. Stucky's affection for the great quartets of Mozart and Brahms transfer to his Brahmsian opening, with unison lines and bell tolls projecting a genuine dramatic intensity. However, such an opening promised emotional explorations and well-developed narratives that never took place. Alas, the rhetorical references to calls of destiny and sweeping tides of life are still too embedded in our cultural psyche since the late eighteenth-century, constantly reinforced by countless concerts of Mozart and Brahms--and Beethoven and Mahler, and everyone else. Instead the opening was soon diluted into more relaxed and atmospheric contrasting material, maintaining small formal units even as the work progressed through the equivalent four movements. The quartet offered nonetheless the most somber emotional tonalities of the whole evening, with some reminiscences of Sibelius and parallels with another Finn, Einojuhanni Rautavaara, perhaps because this composer is drinking from the same source. Throughout, the ability of pianist Molly Morkoski to project different bell-like tone colors proved essential to the discourse. Once again, Stucky's sense of symmetry triumphed, and the opening was revisited at the end.

To my ears the work that most beautifully fulfilled the concepts expressed by Stucky in his program notes was Ad Parnassum, inspired by the painting of the same name by Paul Klee. Stucky adapts Klee's concept of "polyphonic painting" for "its pointillist or mosaic approach in which grids of dense dots or squares in contrasting colors create a wonderfully rich, luminous effect." The felicity of the results lied perhaps in the extra-musical reference to the images of Paul Klee, which are now ubiquitous in our culture, and the natural sympathy between Klee's ideas and Stucky's style.

The final work Boston Fancies reinforced the perception of a common thread running through this concert and provided a summary of its achievements, both for the composer and the ensemble. Boston Fancies explores the concept of the Baroque ritornello, albeit used in constantly varied appearances and quasi-detached from its surrounding episodes by a faster tempo. The work revealed how close this approach was to the other structural concepts included in the concert. In the end all the chamber works were constructed with small formal units and loosely enchained events cloaked in an atmosphere of genial capriciousness. The "fancies' sounded almost improvised, and provided excellent opportunities for the beautiful tones of cellist Dave Eggar and clarinetist Meighan Stoops. In the end one left the concert with a sense of having observed elegant quilts, embroidered with fanciful flowers and unicorns, charmingly designed and manufactured with consummate skill.

The American Modern Ensemble, ending an auspicious inaugural season, seemed to embrace Stucky's aesthetic through and through. I have personally collaborated with some of the ensemble's virtuoso players in projects of the more "gnarly" type, and Rob Paterson indicated that the ensemble plans to offer a concert of American mavericks next fall. It was a sign of their consummate versatility that the ensemble's presentation matched the spirit of the music in so many ways. Each of the players conveyed the technical elegance and emotional discipline of the composer and his music. The program was artfully paced from the simplest to the most complex, throwing an arching line from a recollection to Bach to an exploration of the Baroque. Paterson interviewed Stucky at intermission and they entertained questions from the audience. The ambience in the Tenri Cultural Institute enhanced the cheerful closeness between performers and the public, who applauded the ensemble warmly throughout.
The Death of the Concert Hall?

Technology may just have brought Pierre Boulez's viewpoint that "the most elegant solution for the problem of opera is to blow up the opera houses" a lot closer. In a very thought provoking project Seattle based Loft Recordings have leveraged modern computing power to demonstrate how a virtual acoustic can be created. The acoustics of one of the great performance spaces, Chartres Cathedral in France, were mapped, and the resuting algorithm applied to a recording of 20th century organ music made in Oberlin, Ohio. The results have been released as a 2CD set, one CD is set in the original acoustics of Finney Chapel, Oberlin College, the second is the same performance in the computer created 'virtual acoustics' of Chartres.

The full story of how Digital technology builds the virtual concert hall is just a click away On An Overgrown Path.

Image credit - Disneymike. Any copyrighted material on these pages is includedin "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
A Salieri is commissioned to write a piece for Mozart

San Diego's Mainly Mozart Festival originally limited itself to music of the Classical era, but over the last decade or so, it's expanded to included all music after Mozart (and every now and then a Baroque offering), even a smattering of contemporary music.

This year, perhaps taking the lead from the La Jolla Summerfest (which has been aggressively commissioning composers for their festival since the late '90s--this year features premieres by Bright Sheng, Leon Kirchner, and Magnus Lindberg), Mainly Mozart commissioned a classical composer for a work (in the past, they've commissioned jazz composer Guy Barker, but I believe this is their first classical commission).

I had never encountered the composer they chose, Gabriela Ortiz Torres. Here's some of what I had to say about her string quartet:

It's tempting to compare the commissioned composer, Gabriela Ortiz Torres, to a modern-day Antonio Salieri, but that would be badmouthing Salieri, who in his time was well known throughout Europe. While Ortiz Torres may be a prominent figure in Mexico (she's a composition professor at the Mexican University of Mexico City), her music is invisible on the international scene. However, like Salieri, her work, Aroma Foliado: Gesto de Mozart, was competent, exhibiting its own charm and drama, but ultimately forgettable.

....had you played a recording of Ortiz Torres's quartet for me and asked me to identify the nationality and era of the composer, I would have guessed it was written by someone from the United States in the late 1940s/early 1950s. That's because it sounded, on the surface, so much like Bartók, and there were many Bartók imitators in this country around that time. It's easy enough to evoke him, as these long forgotten Americans and Ortiz Torres did. The sections of the quartet with glassy sustained chords above or under which a tenuous, winding melody emerges are the bastard descendants of Bartók's "night music" style. The harmonies revealed a tonal skeleton underneath dissonant elaborations. The crunchy, vigorous dances in asymmetrical meters are Bartókian as well. One section evoked Stravinsky more than Bartók, with its motor rhythms and kaleidoscopically repeating fragments (again, something you might find a young American composer in the late 1940s doing).

There were two features of Ortiz Torres's piece that reflected a departure from that idiom. One was the single-movement form of the work, divided into highly contrasting sections. (Bartók, of course, was obsessed with large-scale, goal-driven form.) The other was the incorporation of quotations from Mozart's String Quartet no. 21 in D, K. 575. Despite these postmodern aspects, the entire work had the flavor of a woman ignoring her own culture and time to write music that sounded like United States males imitating a European (but at least Bartok was from the earlier imitators's own time).

In Mexico, there are elite families of fair-skinned Mexicans who claim pure descent from Spaniards, their aristocratic blood lines never mingled with Indians. There's something perverse, at least to an American mongrel like myself, about someone in our time and on our continent mindlessly insisting on maintaining their pure Spanish identity. Aroma Foliado, reminded me of those Mexican elite: it's proudly European and anachronistic....

Read the entire review here.

Mein Fuhrer, I Can Walk!

Too many distractions to get around to posting yesterday but I did want to point to a wonderful story in yesterday's New York Times by Daniel Wakin that raises the intriquing question: Did that nine-foot Steinway-D grand piano, serial No. 261324, hidden away in a dormitory of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons really once belong to Rachmaninoff?

On a considerably smaller scale (don't moan, please), Steve Layton recently uncovered one of his moldy oldies--Three Pieces for Toy Piano (1980)--composed for a 2-octave Schoenhut upright toy piano while he was babysitting a very large nuclear warhead for the Air Force under a Kansas cornfield. You can hear it here.

Here's something that looks promising. Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Opera Boston are presenting the North American premiere of Peter Eötvös' new opera, Angels in America, based on Tony Kushner. Dates are June 16, 17, 20 and 24. Details here:

Now Playing:

Piano Music by Emmanuel Chabrier
Angela Hewitt

Having taken a mere ten years to hammer her way through the entire piano oeuvre of Bach, the formiable Angela Hewitt has now taken on the French impressionists with her usual quirky, yet strangely compelling, flair. Poulenc said of Chabrier's Dix pieces pittoresques that they were “as important for French music as the preludes of Debussy” and Hewitt makes a persuasive case that Francis wasn't just whistling La Marseillaise. All of the pieces here are highly atmospheric and charming; their "Spanish" rhythms sound as they were filtered through the ears of a Frenchman on holiday which, of course, they were. "Impressions" is exactly the right word for these delightful short pieces. Chabrier's work relates to that of Dubussy and Ravel rather like Cezanne's relatively crude early paintings compare to the more sophisticated works of Manet and Monet. They are precursors but they also have a power that is uniquely their own.
4 X 4 / Fresh Voices VI Festival in San Francisco

The theatre is a place where illusions happen, and its subject matter, whether consciously or not, is always space and time. And then music enters the picture, and everything changes, though the really basic things don't change. How big is the performing space, and how is it used? San Francisco's Goat Hall Productions used to have its own theatre on Portrero Hill, with a non-proscenium stage. Its current place of operations is Thick House, a misnomer because it's really thin, with ramped seating divided by an aisle. This stage is a non-proscenium one too. And how it was used revealed how the intentions of the 4 works by 4 composers, on Program A ( there were 2 ), of Fresh Voices VI, were realized.

The opener, Lisa Scola Prosek's Leonardo's Notebooks, (in Italian) looked and felt cramped. Jim Cave's direction, with a large projection screen, sort of a home theatre does Thick House, parked stage right and a wall like panel next to the musicians, staged left, tended to work against the music and the play. This composer's work is steeped in the Mediterranean world of gestures writ both big and small, and while Cave's direction of Erling Wold's A Little Girl Dreams Of Taking The Veil, based on Max Ernst opera, succeeded in making it suitably surreal, Scola Prosek's piece, though imaginative, is remarkably straightforward in its depiction of Milan's Sforza court and its reigning genius Da Vinci, though Cave's direction made him, sung here by tenor Aurelio Viscarra, seem almost incidental to the goings on about him, and he certainly didn't come off as temperamental.

Cave never gave you a real sense of being in a room or of coming into a room as when his Baldassare Castigilione (bass baritone Micah Epps), and the D'Este sisters -- Isabella (soprano Diana Landau), and Beatrice (mezzo Hanna Ostroff), drop into the artist's studio unannounced, nor did you get a sense of the characters positioned in space which would have given a feeling of their characters' physical and psychological relationships. Thank God the vocal writing, which though conversational, also referenced bel canto and at times suggested the madrigal, and the instrumental writing, especially in the overture, with its shadowy inner voices, had character and point, and Scola Prosek composed some enchanting quiet, Satie and Philip Glass bare moments, as well as concerted stuff for herself on piano, Patrick Kroboth, viola, Beth Snellings, cello, and John Beeman, double bass. Cave's lighting gave a Renaissance opulence to the costumes -- from ACT's shop -- and all the performers, especially soprano Maria Mikheyenko, looking pert in a doublet as Da Vinci's servant, Salai, had their intricate and often highly expressive music well in hand, and Goat Hall music director Mark Alburger's tempos let the score breathe.

The use of space in John Beeman's shortie -- it was under 4 minutes -- Dear Composer was much stronger. Voice # 1 (Harriet March Page), Voice # 2 (Steven Clark), Voice # 3 (Mark Alburger) faced the audience from their lecterns. The simplicity of this approach -- bare stage bathed in an almost clinical off white -- was a perfect analog to their matter of fact recitations of form rejection letters which all working artists have received.

Physical as well as musical space and time seemed to be the driving force behind Steven Clark's Amok Time, which was based on the Star Trek episode of the same name. Costumes and movements both vocal and actual were stylized, almost ritualized, and the comic -- can anyone take Star Trek with a straight face? -- as well as the over the top tragic were in perfect harmony. The original "Amok Time " was projected live as the action unfolded onstage, with its 6 singers mirroring them, as Glass' vocalists did in his performance opera of Cocteau's La Belle et La Bete, which happened in real time with the film. This is a wonderful way to work: gestures amplify, reflect, or are opposed. The score, obsessive ala Reich's The Desert Music -- the Stravinsky and Wagner quotes were obvious -- as well as ceremonial and parodistic -- Alexander "Sandy" Courage's series theme was put through the ringer -- had lots of atmosphere and drive. The 30 minute TV format -- sans commercials -- may have helped Clark sharpen his ideas.

Would that Mark Alburger's The Pied Piper of Hamelin were really political and not just a clever gloss on the dismal state of current international affairs. Most of the writing -- Alburger set Robert Browning's poem in toto -- was like a manic steamroller flattening everything in sight. One didn't know whether to feel sorry for poor tenor Noah Miller as Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Mayor) singing solo center stage--was he exhausted from the vocal hoops he'd just jumped through, or was the moment meant to be poignant? The 7-member cast all in red on the open, mostly bright white stage, gave it their all as did Keisuke Nakagoshi who served as the show's one man band on the Yamaha upright which he played with his customary precision and verve. If only Alburger had chosen a better property to set. Maybe a heart connection that seemed to animate his Henry Miller in Brooklyn would have made for a better piece, though the emotional turmoil between Henry and June was probably what drew him to it. Irony goes only so far. Still this was a provocative and entertaining evening in the theatre, with strongly contrasted pieces and styles.

I'm sorry to say that I missed Fresh Voices Program B, though I did catch the 4 hour plus 12th Annual Now Music Festival at Thick House May 28th. The most striking pieces were Keith Dippre's 3 piano pieces California Low Brow which he amusingly dissed before they were given a cogent performance by Jane Weeks Gardiner, and Edward Shocker's Netori, which was played on 2 electric guitars by Natha Clevenge and Wayne Grim. This slowly elongated pitch -- 2 actually -- which grew to almost ear-splitting intensity was meant to evoke the tuning of a gagaku - (Japanese court music ensemble), and its loudness was as loud or louder than Glenn Branca's stuff which I caught once at, if memory serves, a performance space in Manhattan's West Village. It did so superbly, and the fact that a lot of the audience swore they hated it was evidence of its power. Music should shake things up. This piece certainly did.
New Music To March To

Ernst Hanfstaengl must rank as one of the most bizarre 20th century composers. Born in Germany and educated at Harvard, he lived in America through the First World War before moving back to Germany where he worked closely with Hitler as chief of the Nazi's foreign press bureau. After falling out of favor he fled from Germany, and settled in America again where he led an anti-Nazi intelligence project for president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Hanfstaengl's musical credentials included being personal pianist to the Führer, composing several marches used at Nazi gatherings, including one heard in Leni Riefenstahl's classic fim of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, and writing film music and a monumental choral work. A recording of him playing Debussy and his own compositions, together with a personal message to the Nazi leaders, was recorded by the US intelligence service, pressed on shellac, and parachuted into Germany.

A recently published book tells of the extraordinary life of Ernst Hanfstaengl who died in 1975, and also gives a fascinating insight into Hitler's musical likes, and dislikes - the dislikes included Bach and Beethoven! On An Overgrown Path has the full story at Hitler's court composer was Harvard alumni.

The rarely-seen photograph above of the 1935 Nuremberg Rally comes from the Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection. Read the full story of this extraordinary archive, and see more haunting photographs, in Downfall - and the mystery of Karajan's personal photographer. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
The Death of Classical Music Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Well, it's a throw-a-knish-on-the-barbie kind of day here in Nuevo York as summer has finally arrived, tardy but unapologetic, to grace our long holiday weekend. The young and sexually active have taken off for the Hamptons and Fire Island and whereever else the young and sexually active go to be young and sexually active, leaving the city to the old and the poor, as well as perplexed tourists who bring money and are generally harmless. Quelle pleasure, as we used to say down in West Virginia. It just shows there isn't anything wrong with this town that having three or four million accountants and stockbrokers move back to Cleveland wouldn't fix.

If there's actually anybody out there reading today, don't miss Allan Kozinn's Check the Numbers: Rumors of Classical Music's Demise Are Dead Wrong in today's New York Times. Turns out, this is the golden age.


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