Listening

In the Ongoing Listening Project, I am done listening to the Gesualdo Tenebrae. As promised, the harmonies are twisted and startling. The texts are unfamiliar, however, so they don’t jump out at me or stick in my head.

The other problem is that half of each piece is extended recitative/chanting. Very nicely done, but not memorable, and the motets themselves get lost. I tuned out the chant and wouldn’t even be listening by the time the motet started.

So this will go into the collection, but I don’t think I’ll be downloading it to the iTunes collection.

I moved on to a CD called Pacifica, by one Fred Frith, if that is his real name. This is a CD that Marc discovered online, decided it sounded interesting, and in what I’m sure was an act of kindness sent it to me as a gift back during one of my “Oh woe why can’t I compose” periods. Marc has always encouraged me to break free of the tyrannies of Western formal music, forgetting that I don’t play any instrument well enough to improvise. (I downloaded the iPhone app Ocarina last night, so maybe I can learn that.)

So I popped it into the CD player in the van, and I toughed it out for several days. It has not grown on me. I understand the process, but I am not engaged by the product. It’s mostly ugly. This one goes into the Lacuna Fun Tub so I can share it with Marc.

Now I’m listening to another Mercury Living Presence re-release, entitled Music for Quiet Listening. This is the one filled with mellow pieces from the middle of last century, all winners of a competition funded by a music-loving businessman who hated the serialism that was so fashionable in our schools and conservatories at the time. He put his money where his mouth was and commissioned pretty music.

I’ll report back in a few days.

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