055: Miles Davis/Gil Evans, ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ (“Sketches of Spain”)

In which a jazz recasting of classical favorite trumps the classical original. Gil Evans and a taste of heaven.

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005: Glenn Gould, Toccata in Cm (J.S. Bach)

Why do I so respect Glenn Gould? Because his playing is willful, extreme, eccentric. Because it’s utterly engaged.

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073: Erik Satie, ‘Gymnopédie No. 1’

Erik Satie hung out with Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Milhaud, Stravinsky, Cocteau, Duchamp, Picasso, Braque, Man Ray, Breton, Diaghilev and Rene Clair, but no one entered his apartment for the last 27 years of his life. After his death, 84 identical handkerchiefs were found in his wardrobe.

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113: J.S. Bach, ‘Prelude to Suite #2 for Unaccompanied Cello’ (Casals)

Yom Kippur is when we Jews face up to the way we lead our lives. The cantor uses the liturgy to break open our hearts and try to pry open God’s. But if there were going to be a secular soundtrack, it would have to be Bach’s Cello Suites.

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129: Franz Schubert, ‘Death and the Maiden’

In Renaissance art, the Death and the Maiden allegory depicted irresistible Death seducing a hot virgin without any clothes—think of a slasher movie directed by Ingmar Bergman. In young Franz Schubert’s string quartet, this motif becomes a hyper-energized meditation on his impending demise.

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280: Charles Ives, ‘The Unanswered Question’

Founder of a successful insurance company. on weekends he composed modernist music that lay unheard for 50 years and “responded to negligence with contempt”.
My new role model.

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278: The Danish String Quartet, ‘Sønderho Bridal Trilogy – Part II’/Dreamers’ Circus, ‘Kitchen Stories’

A classical string quartet and a roots trio. Six (sic) shaggy, hunky young Danish musicians exploring their roots with such panache and skill and joy that you can’t not love it. I guarantee you.

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086: ‘Different Trains’, Steve Reich (Kronos Quartet)

SoTW takes a look at Minimalism and composer Steve Reich’s ‘Different Trains’, a three-movement piece for string quartet and tape (1988).
Reich uses recorded spoken phrases of his governess, a retired Pullman porter, and various Holocaust survivors interlaid with the astounding Kronos Quartet to contrast his childhood memories of train journeys between New York and California in 1939–1941 (he traveled between his separated parents) with the very different trains being used to transport contemporaneous European children to their deaths under Nazi rule.
This is difficult, challenging music, but is said to have “earned Reich a place among the great composers of the 20th century”.

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