Sunday, July 23, 2017

Unusual concertos 41-50: From water to native American flute

The concerto for solo instrument(s) and orchestra is one of the most popular genres in classical music. However, I think 95+ % of all concertos have been composed for piano or violin. Previously I have run a series on concertos for less common instruments in this blog, reaching an amazing number of 100 in the end (all these posts were reset to draft end March). I will be summarizing these in ten posts in the course of the year, each covering ten unusual concertos, keeping the sequences the same as in the past.

[41] Water. What? This has to be one of the most unlikely concertante "instruments" - you would probably have to rank this under miscellaneous percussion. Tan Dun, best known for his film score Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, composed the only concerto for water and orchestra that I am aware of. It has not been released on CD, but there is a DVD of the concert as performed by David Cossin with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra directed by the composer. In addition, the complete concerto can be viewed in a different version on YouTube. Maybe not great music, but innovative for sure!

[42] Mandolin. In the baroque and classical era, this was a fairly popular concertante instrument (e.g. Vivaldi, Hummel), but as the orchestras became bigger and louder, its use almost disappeared. More recently, contemporary composers have shown an increased interest in its possibilities in concertante classical music. I have selected the concerto by Avner Dorman, performed by Eliran Avni and the Metropolis Ensemble under Andrew Cyr, available on a Naxos CD.

[43] Theremin.This is an instrument that was invented fairly recently (1928). The controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas which sense the position of the player's hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other, so it can be played without being touched. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. Like its cousin the ondes martenot, it has been used far more frequently in soundtracks than in serious classical music. I have a theremin concerto by Kalevi Aho, played by Carolina Eyck and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra under John Storgards, available on a BIS CD.

[44] Bayan. This is the Russian accordion, which differs in subtle ways from the Western accordion, and the Argentinean bandoneon. Not surprisingly, its use in classical music is largely limited to composers from the (former) Soviet Union. The best example of a bayan concerto is by the leading contemporary female composer Sofia Gubaidulina, titled Fachwerk. The version I selected is played by Geir Draugsvoll and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra under Gimse, available on a Naxos CD.

[45] Musical saw (or singing saw). While used occasionally by amateurs in folk music, its use in serious classical music is extremely rare. In fact, this is the first instrument in the ongoing series, where I found information about a concerto without ever having heard it - it is not in my extensive CD collection, and I cannot find it on YouTube. Some information from Wikipedia: Divination By Mirrors for Saw and Strings (1998) by Michael A. Levine is a concerto scored for two string groups tuned a quarter-step apart and placed on opposite sides of the stage with a musical saw soloist playing in both pitch universes. I would love to hear it one day.....

[46] Cor anglais (or English horn). Rather confusingly neither a horn nor English. This beautiful melancholic instrument (one of my personal favourites) is actually technically a member of the oboe family. Concertos for this instrument as so often have really started to appear in the 20th century. The most beautiful example of a cor anglais concerto is the one published in 1989 by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. The version I selected is played by Normunds Schnee and the Riga Philharmonic Orchestra under Rusmanis, available on a Conifer CD.

[47] Barrel organ. Another example of a highly unlikely concertante instrument. I know of only one concerto for it, by Romanian-born French composer Marius Constant, best known for the iconic Twilight Zone theme song. It is played by Pierre Charial and the Nancy Symphony Orchestra under Kaltenbach, available on an Erato CD.

[48] Steelpan. Originating from Trinidad, this percussion instrument first appeared in classical music in Malcolm Arnold's delightful Commonwealth overture. I know of only one concerto for it, by American composer Jan Bach. It is played by Liam Teague and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra under Freeman, available on an Albany CD.

[49] Maracas. These rattles are typically used in a pair. Originating from Latin America, these percussion instruments have not penetrated classical music to any extent, although there may be some scores where they are included in the percussion group. I know of only one concerto for it, by American composer Ricardo Lorenz. It is played by Ed Harrison and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra under Freeman, available on an Albany CD.

[50] Native American flute. Although this instrument has gained some foothold in New Age music, its application in classical music is of course not wide-spread. The most notable is probably its inclusion in the orchestral score of Philip Glass' second piano concerto. I know of only one concerto for it, by American composer James DeMars, titled Spirit Horses. It is played by R. Carlos Nakai and an unnamed chamber orchestra under the composer, available on a Canyon Records CD.

Copyright statement: image sourced from here, explicitly stated to be in the public domain.

Flickr

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Why Robert Rauschenberg erased a de Kooning

It was one of the most controversial moments in fine art since Duchamp exhibited a urinal: Robert Rauschenberg taking a drawing of famous painter Willem de Kooning and erasing it as an act of art. The linked art-icle gives more details, and I found it a good read.

Copyright statement: image created via the Photofunia site, who explicitly state that their images have no copyright issues. The included images of Rausenberg and the erased de Kooning drawing are thumbnail size and considered fair use.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Oval

This is the type of minimal abstract shot that I love - especially when executed to perfection like here by my Flickr friend Sibilla Horst. It takes quite some imagination to deduce that what we're seeing is actually a fork - personally I did not get it.

Copyright statement: posted with explicit permission of the creator who retains all rights.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Roses in the night

A romantic title (Des roses dans la nuit) for a stunning fashion magazine illustration of an evening dress. George Barbier created this in 1921 for La Gazette du Bon Ton.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wallpaper Abyss

If you're looking for new laptop or monitor wallpapers, you could do worse than browse the linked Wallpaper Abyss site. I picked the beauty in the center of this screenshot (search for camera to see these) for my computer.

Copyright statement: image created by screenshot. All nine pictures are thumbnail size and therefore considered fair use.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ruurlo Castle

Another example of digital art made possible with the on-line program at the DeepArt site (blogged here). In this case, I took a photograph of the castle in Ruurlo (now a museum), and a painting by John Constable (Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows). The link leads to the original photograph.

Copyright statement: image created via the DeepArt site from one of my original images. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Winter song

A recent work by my wife, part of a series inspired by the four seasons. Expect more of her art in the blog the coming months.

Copyright statement: painting created by Lu Schaper. Copyright Lu Schaper.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Andy Warhol album covers

The linked art-icle gives a great overview of album covers designed by pop art icon Andy Warhol. I have to admit I only knew of two examples (the famous banana for the Velvet Underground and Nico, and one album of Diana Ross, blogged here), but it turns out that there are plenty more, including big names like the Stones, Aretha Franklin, and Blondie.

Copyright statement: image created by BigHugeLabs from pictures in the referred site. All nine pictures are thumbnail size and therefore considered fair use.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The ar(t)chitecture of Frank Lloyd Wright

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) is justly famous - Simon and Garfunkel even wrote a beautiful song about him more than 10 years after he died. His legacy is hundreds of buildings still standing in the USA (more than a handful have been destroyed).  Here is my pick for five of his best works with links to the Wikipedia pages:

1. Fallingwater, Mill Run, USA, 1939 (image above).
2. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, 1959.
3. Gammage Memorial Auditorium, Tempe, USA, 1964.
4. Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Wauwatosa, USA, 1961.
5. Larkin Administration Building, Buffalo, USA, 1906 (demolished 1950).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Impression of 14 July

Here is one for our French readers: happy Bastille Day! I came across this painting last week looking for suitable posts with this theme - and it is not often I find a Vincent van Gogh I had never seen before. He made this in 1886.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Architecture photography by Anna Davis and Daniel Rueda

This series of photographs is an artistic collaboration by Valencia-based couple Anna Devis and Daniel Rueda. As the model, Anna interacts in quirky ways with the architectural backgrounds and Daniel takes the shots. Often with a healthy dosage of humor, these photographs are a delight to look at.

Copyright statement: image created by BigHugeLabs from pictures in the referred site. All nine pictures are thumbnail size and therefore considered fair use.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sandscape

This photograph is part of an impressive series of landscape shots by my Flickr friend Ethan (known previously as Cormend). This stunning piece of nature, depicted in the most impressive way, is known as the White Sands National Monument (New Mexico, USA).

Copyright statement: posted with explicit permission of the creator who retains all rights.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Harmony Korine

Steven Wilson's song Harmony Korine, from his solo debut album Insurgentes, is a great piece of music. However, the video lifts it to an even more worthwhile experience. It was shot, edited and directed by Lasse Hoile as an homage to the old euro cinema greats. Very highly recommended. Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).

Copyright statement: image created via the Photofunia site, who explicitly state that their images have no copyright issues. The video screenshot included in the image is thumbnail size and therefore considered fair use.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Watching the fish

This painting by Spanish artist JoaquĆ­n Sorolla (1863-1923) is not in a style that I normally prefer. Painted in 1907, it pays little or no attention whatsoever to decades of developments in the art world. And yet, I found it strangely attractive when I first came across it on a bulletin board. More about Sorolla in the linked Wikipedia article.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Potpourri [7]

An overview of recent images that would have ended up in my parallel blog Art's Potpourri (now stopped). Clicking the icons in the left side of the table takes you to the picture on the site where I found it in a new window. The text includes a link to the site.

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The Brexit domino effect. This cartoon, picked up at the 9gag site, is the funniest I have seen on the whole Brexit disaster. Kudos to whomever came up with this idea (Just for Fun). First seen here.
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Seabreacher. I may not be into boats, but it would be cool to own this one, looking like a killer whale. It reaches speeds of up to 55 mph as well (Special Designs). First seen here.
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Walking your octopus. Too good to file under Just for Fun. Disney illustrator Brian Kesinger created this illustrated story what life with a pet octopus would be like (Amazing Stuff). First seen here.
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Suspended Deconstructions. Mexican artist Damian Ortega specializes in taking objects like cars apart and suspending all parts as a stunning art installation (Remarkable Art). First seen here.
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Sale! Sale! Sale! "You keep on using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means." Some hilarious examples of sale sign fails (Mixed Nuts). First seen here.
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Mind bending placemat. Taken from a post on innovative Japanese designs. I really like this optical illusion style place mat by A.P. Works (Special Designs). First seen here.
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Lobster attack. Taken from a fascinating post about photographs that are not what they seem, this lobster in a bucket looks like a space monster (Amazing Stuff). First seen here.
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At Earth's end. Finally the Flat Earth Society has the proof they're looking for. Too bad it's just a camera malfunction. Full story in the link (Amazing Stuff). First seen here.

Copyright statement: image based on a photograph created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Flickr

Friday, July 07, 2017

Bijzonder Kampen

Screenshots of a six page spread about my wife in the new glossy magazine for Kampen (Bijzonder Kampen = Special Kampen). The link leads to the on-line version - you can find the article (in Dutch) at page 64 and beyond.

Copyright statement: screenshots in thumbnail size, considered fair use.

Bottles

A close-up of an art installation in Kampen at the occasion of the International Hanseatic days. Not a personal favourite, but my most faved shots of recent weeks.

Camera: Nikon D7000 (Nikkor 18-300 mm), 16 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/11.0
Focal Length: 43.6 mm
ISO Speed: 1000
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Copyright statement: image created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Spyker cars

A nice piece of nostalgia, this poster from about 1920. Spyker was a Dutch car manufacturing company that was in business from 1898 until 1926. The poster was designed by Piet van der Hem.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

High stakes

The recent International Hanseatic festival in Kampen gave the local photographers plenty of opportunity to shine. I missed one of the main events, the reenacting of a historical battle in front of the city gates, but fortunately my Flickr friends did not. Here is a great action shot from that spectacle, taken by Gert van der Meulen.

Copyright statement: posted with explicit permission of the creator who retains all rights.