Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Goodbye Jazz

Yesterday afternoon we had to let go of our lovely cocker spaniel Jazz, aged 15 years and 2 months. He was a huge part of our life since autumn 2002. Rest in peace buddy.

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Promenade

High time once again to feature a painter that both my wife and I rank among the best of all time: German expressionist August Macke (1887-1914). This particular work dates back to 1913, one year before he fell in the so-called Great War.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Quiet, Still and Solitary

The Estonian band Bithiasa is difficult to categorize. They are composed of a string quartet and a wind quartet, who both had considerable success in the contemporary classical repertoire - yet, as Bithiasa they explore different styles altogether. Although the general feeling of their music is soothing, it is not New Age either. So forget about labels, and enjoy the impressive musicality that is evident in every single note on their debut album.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions: [1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Bithiasa. [2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album (from 2014 onward: any part of a random quotation will do). The random quote that came up was by Franz Kafka: You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. [3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Flowing, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Respective 100 white and Scriptina 100 white, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.

Copyright statement: image created by myself based on one of my photographs. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pictorialist photographs by Leonard Misonne

Belgian photographer Leonard Misonne (1870-1943) captured the landscapes and people of Europe in the Pictorialist style, which aspired to bring photography to the level of other fine arts such as painting and sculpture. These soft, painterly images were created using alternative printing processes with materials such as oil and gum bichromate. More on Misonne in the linked site.

Copyright statement: all images selected and displayed above are thumbnail size and therefore considered fair use.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Garda Lake

With autumn slowly but surely making its mark, one can't help but think of nicer places to be than in the wet and windy Netherlands. Like the beautiful Garda Lake in Northern Italy. This vintage travel poster was created by Elio Ximenes (1855-1926).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Abstracted wall

Last weekend, we had the chance during National Monuments Day to visit the nearby military school building, which has not been in use (and actually completely neglected) for over ten years. It was an interesting visit, and the weathered walls offered the opportunity to shoot some abstracts. I quite like this one, with once more a diagonal flow through the composition.

Camera: Nikon D7000 (Nikkor 18-300 mm), 16 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.0125 sec (1/80)
Aperture: f/5.3
Focal Length: 47.6 mm
ISO Speed: 1000
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Vanity Fair May 1919

A beautiful romantic Vanity Fair magazine cover of almost a century ago. Created by the famous Helen Dryden.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Westerosi rhapsody

This is both hilarious and stunningly well made - and it appeals to the Queen fan and the Game of Thrones fan in me. Full credits on the linked YouTube site. Do play this - it is wonderful!

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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pixabay

Another excellent site to find copyright-free images, which I encountered recently: Pixabay. Many good photographers have uploaded images to this site, all under the CC0 Creative Commons license: free to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist - even for commercial purposes. An example is this stunning shot of an old camera.

Copyright statement: image created by Alexander Stein, in public domain (CC0 Creative Commons).

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Caught red-handed

One of the problematic subjects on the legal side of art is: when can you use someone else's art as starting point for your own? It is clear that your own input should be substantial and transform the original piece considerably. What Swiss photographer Madeleine Josephine Fierz did, is clearly not allowed though. She took images by Thai photographer Sasin Tipchai (available in public domain) such as the one above, added a few details with Photoshop (like including some butterflies) and passed of the resultant work as her own - even winning a prize at this year’s Moscow International Foto Awards (MIFA). Fortunately, the truth was discovered and she was disqualified. Full story in the link.

Copyright statement: image created by Sasin Tipchai, in public domain (CC0 Creative Commons).

Friday, September 08, 2017

Unusual concertos 61-70: From tenor saxophone to jew's harp

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.

[61] Tenor saxophone. We have encountered concertos for three other members of the saxophone family before (alto, soprano and baritone), now it is the turn for the fourth and last instrument of the group. It has been used in 20th century classical music, e.g. in Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. There are a few concertos for it, as expected for such a versatile instrument. I have selected one titled The upward stream, composed by Russell Peck. It is played by James Houik and the London Symphony Orchestra under Paul Anthony McRae, available on an Albany CD.

[62] Pedal piano. Frankly, I had never heard of this hybrid instrument until I came across the CD linked to in this post. It is a piano that includes a pedal-board, enabling bass register notes to be played with the feet, like on an organ. The instrument never became popular, and I am aware of only one concerto for it, composed by Charles Gounod in the 1880's. Recently, this concerto was issued on a Hyperion CD in their excellent Romantic piano concertos series. It is played by Roberto Prosseda and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana under Howard Shelley, available on a Hyperion CD.

[63] Bass clarinet. We have seen the soprano clarinet (which is the instrument normally referred to simply as clarinet) before. The bass clarinet plays an octave lower, and has been used on many occasions in compositions by the likes of Berlioz, Wagner and Liszt. Concertos for the instrument are rather rare though. I have one in my CD collection, composed by Dietrich Erdmann. It is played by Renate Rusche and the Berliner Philharmoniker under Werner Hagen, available on an MDG CD.

[64] Rhythmicon. Even among unusual concertante instruments, this stands out as one of the weirdest. This electronic rhythm box was conceived in 1930 by the avant-garde American composer Henry Cowell and Russian inventor Leon Theremin (most famous for the instrument of that name). Cowell went on to compose a concerto for the instrument in 1931 - but I have not been able to find a recorded version on CD of it..

[65] Contrabassoon. This is the larger version of the more common bassoon, and plays a full octave lower, adding considerably to the natural grumpiness of its cousin. Not surprisingly, concertos for this instrument are rare, but one of the leading contemporary composers, Finland's Kalevi Aho, wrote one in 2005, which was recorded for a CD I have in my collection. It is played by Lewis Lipnick and the Bergen Philharmonic under Andrew Litton, available on a BIS CD.

[66] Trumpet. Like many of the regular orchestral instruments, it was rather popular as a concertante instrument in baroque and classical times (Haydn, Hummel), to end up being neglected during the romantic era, and then revived to some extent in the past century (list on Wikipedia). Most notable more recent concertos are by Rouse, Holmboe, Zimmermann, Jolivet, Tomasi, and Araturian - and the one I selected, by Peter Maxwell Davies. It is played by John Wallace and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under the composer, available on a Collins CD.

[67] Glockenspiel. Ranked under percussion experiments, this is the adult version of the pixiphone that many of us will have played with as a child. Unlike its cousins the marimba and the xylophone, concertos for this instrument are virtually non-existent. I could find none that has been recorded, and in fact I only found one reference to a glockenspiel concerto, composed recently by Steve Christerform. This short three movements piece can be listened to in the linked YouTube video.

[68] Ney.This is the end-blown flute that has been popular in the Middle East for about 5000 years - making it one of the oldest instruments in the world. Not surprisingly, it did not find use in western classical music until fairly recently. The one concerto I know for this instrument was composed by Fazil Say, a Turkish pianist and composer. On the one existing (live) recording, it is played by Burcu Karadag and the Orchestra of National Theater Mannheim under Dan Ettinger, available on a Naive CD.

[69] Electric cello. This is one of the rare occasions where I know that a concerto exists, but have not been able to track it down on CD or YouTube. The linked site gives more information about Magnetar, a concerto for for electric cello and orchestra, by Enrico Chapela, which has been performed by Los Angeles Philharmonic with Johannes Moser as soloists. Maybe one day it will be recorded.

[70] Jew's harp. The tongue/reed is placed in the performer's mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note. Surely this is one of the unlikeliest concertante instruments, yet it is relatively well-known because of the four concertos for jew's harp, mandora and orchestra by Johann Albrechtsberger (one of the teachers of Beethoven). It should be said that the mandora (an older version of the lute) is used more in a basso continuo fashion in these compositions, making the jew's harp the real concertante instrument. I have selected the concerto in E major, in the version with Fritz Mayr and the Munchner Kammerorchester under Hans Stadlmair, available on an Orfeo CD.

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

Flickr

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Autumn (School)

German expressionist Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938) has become one of my favourite artists over the past few years. Her subjects are often unusual, and different from the other expressionists. A case in point is this almost surreal autumnal scene from from 1907. More about von Werefkin in the linked Wikipedia article.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Aerial photographs of the Netherlands 1920-1940

Recently, the Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie (Dutch Institute for Military History) has opened up their large data bank of aerial photographs of the Netherlands by putting the images on-line. A real treasure trove. For this blog post, I picked one of the shots of our beautiful city of Kampen which includes our home (original, and remarkably detailed, shot here).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The ar(t)chitecture of Santiago Calatrava


Santiago Calatrava (1951) is a Spanish architect (as well as structural engineer, sculptor and painter) - and for me the greatest genius in his field. His work often has a distinct organic feel to it. His work can be found in Europe and the Americas. Here is my pick for ten (rather than five) of his best works with links to the Wikipedia pages:
  1. Auditorio de Tenerife, Spain, 2003 (image above).
  2. Milwaukee Art Museum, USA, 2001.
  3. City of Arts and Sciences Valencia, Spain, 2006.
  4. Turning Torso Malmo, Sweden, 2004.
  5. Laguardia Bodegas Ysios winery, Spain, 2001.
  6. Rio de Janeiro Museum of Tomorrow, Brazil, 2015.
  7. Puente del Alamillo Seville, Spain, 1992.
  8. Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry, France, 1994.
  9. Garo do Oriente Lisbon, Portugal,1998.
  10. Palace of the Arts Valencia, Spain, 2006
Copyright statement: image licensed by Diego Delso (CC BY-SA 3.0) .

Monday, September 04, 2017

Do it again (RIP Walter Becker)

Another one bites the dust. Yesterday, the Grim Reaper has made sure that Walter Becker, co-founder, guitarist, bassist and co-songwriter of Steely Dan, will never Do it again. Their best song in memory of this talented musician, who excelled in photography as well (he created the iconic cover of the Aja album shown above, second row, right).  Art Rock score: 10/10, one of  200 best songs of all time.

Copyright statement: image created via the BigHugeLabs site. The album covers included in the image are thumbnail size and therefore considered fair use.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Ripped in August

A selected overview of culture stars relevant to my own tastes who passed away this month - a week full of deaths followed by three weeks of quietness. Rest in peace.

1
Goldy McJohn (72), Canadian keyboard player. he was one of the founders of Steppenwolf, whose Born to be wild remains a favourite song of mine. And one I like to do in Karaoke bars....
3
Robert Hardy (91), British actor. I remember him for roles as far apart as Siegfried Farnon in the 70s TV series All creatures great and small and Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films around 2000.
6
Walter Levin (92), German-born American violin player. He was the founder, first violinist, and guiding spirit of the LaSalle Quartet. We have many of their CD's.
6
David Maslanka (73), American composer, specializing in works for wind ensembles. We have two CD's of his work.
8
Glen Campbell (81), American country singer and songwriter. A handful of his songs made it to our car USB stick, including Wichita lineman and By the time I get to Phoenix.
8
Peteris Plakidis (70), Latvian composer and pianist. We have one CD of his works in our collection.

Copyright statement: image created via the Photofunia site, who explicitly state that their images have no copyright issues.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Golddust

Rusty surfaces are a gold mine for abstract photography, and this is no exception. Throw in a composition with attention for diagonal flow, and we get a shot that is one of my favourites of recent months, and received good reactions on Flickr as well.

Camera: Nikon D7000 (Nikkor 18-300 mm), 16 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 254 mm
ISO Speed: 1000
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

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

Friday, September 01, 2017

Rene Magritte, Photographer

We all know the painter Rene Magritte. Chances are you have come across the music sheet designer Rene Magritte: several blogs, including mine, paid attention to that unknown side of his output. Now we have the photographer Rene Magritte. The link gives lots of examples, and often the quirkiness of his paintings come through in this medium as well. Recommended.

Copyright statement: image created via the Photofunia site, who explicitly state that their images have no copyright issues. The included images of Magritte's photograph are thumbnail size and considered fair use.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Talloires

A beautiful vintage travel poster for the French commune Talloires on the Lake Annecy - as stated, ten hours by train from Paris (now it is done in three and a half hours). It dates back to the 1910's, and was designed by brothers Paul and Robert Besnard.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.