Struggling Beethoven, Boulez, Wonder, Ellington, and Barenboim

(Start writing from March 10, 2008, Revised on March 24, 2008) 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/arts/music/10naga.html?ref=music (March 10, 2008) Supercharged Solo Followed by a Cosmic Energy Riot 

JIWON: 

So… Mr. Bell still doesn’t know how to solve his problem. When I heard his SF-SO, his physical problem was getting worse, mainly due to his aging body. I’m pretty sure that he still remembers his conducting moments with his orchestra members. It was a perfect marriage, but does he think it was possible without MTT’s decade-long hard working? He should thank MTT for inviting him.I tried to listen to all the performances of SF-SO, but I was too tired to concentrate. I just remember some of their performances were not enough good to prove their ability. Still, I feel guilty whenever I think of those days, during which I underestimated MTT. I feel guilty, because I told one Korean-Mehta about my judgment. I simply did it, because American students told me how much the CSO string members jeered at him. It was in Urbana-Champaign, where I heard his Tchaikovsky and followed his SF-SO. Then, I couldn’t understand why their performances in recent years were getting worse. Well… I didn’t want to make any comments, because MTT can’t save my life. Now that I give up and write what I want to write, I just hope them to keep going.

Let’s return to Bell. Was it Beethoven? I don’t quite remember, but I am now too tired to read all the stuffs again in his homepage. I should have saved what hooked me while reading them. Bell was talking about his future plan as a conductor, two instruments holder, and a dutiful father. I agreed with him. If he’s been following my writing since You-Know-When, I hope him to accept my criticism as a good advice. (Needless to say, I lost my temper when he appeared in Mehta’s Tel-Aviv after I picked up his schooling. So, was it good?)

I feel sorry, but I’ve never thought Bell was handsome. Since his life completely differs from mine, I don’t think he cares for my opinion. ^.* Even Domingo hasn’t looked handsome. Sorry, but I am who I am. No male musician looks handsome when he never knows how to fully blossom his native talent. Especially when my beauty(?) is not praised by men, I feel no need to eulogize certain males. I also think… somehow, Bell’s music lacks further education. What if his mentor, Prof. Josef Gingold, is still alive? I’m real curious of his reaction to Bell’s present music. If he wants, here are my two cents.

I don’t know why, but when I read his plan to study Beethoven Symphony, I thought it would really help him to grow more. I’m sure Bell will find himself struggling between the structure and lyrical quality.

It was real difficult to play Beethoven, and I couldn’t understand it until Prof. Nicholas Temperley (UI-UC) lectured on this. Couple of years later, I was reading the Chicago Tribune to fight with Mr. von Rhein, who was mentioning Boulez’s “Structure-Comment” while reviewing his CSO concert. I was real quick to send my answer, in which I explained my experience. (My problem is that I forgot what the specific part was in Berlioz Symphony… alas…) But I’m still sure this is exactly the same thing as what I felt while playing Beethoven. (It is another issue that Beethoven was a sonnovabich-composer for the low horns, whose favorite mouthpiece has a high quality.)

Time passed, (perhaps several years…), and I happened to listen to Ravel-specialist “studying” Beethoven-cycle. For a while, it was so horrible that I really wished him to stick to his gun so that I could listen to his Ravel-version of Beethoven Sonatas. I thought… though it may be off the Beethoven tradition, it would be worth listening to, because I know what a hard job it is for even a talented musician to build those Ravel-muscles. Then, I had to drop my jaw when he was real serious of his Beethoven-dream and treated himself as a teenage student. Then… I started listening to his struggling between the structure and lyrical quality. It was a real fun to listen to his struggling.

Am I speaking of Boulez’s “The Structure?” I don’t know.

I still feel no need to read this headache book. I just want to hear his idea through music. And I heard Boulez’s CSO’s tone poem, “Also sprach Zarathustra.” Well… during my American residency, I was never fond of Boulez’s CSO, but I didn’t know why. So, I was real curious if I could find an answer from this recording. Well… this is not the Chicago Symphony Orchestra I know. Furthermore, I was in a shock to listen to the woodwind section, in which no one was playing the pillar. Then what about the brass section? They even have no idea about the basic concept of joining the balanced ensemble. I’m not talking about the balance between string and brass or woodwind and brass, since those dumb folks will surely misunderstand what I mean. But what disappointed me most was its cheap string section sound. What they seem to need is not Boulez’s “Structure” book but the metronome. How can they play like this? However… it is still much better than Mehta’s Zarathustra, which was literally an art-of-debate in a class of inferior IQed Jewish kids. I had to respect poor Dale despite all my disgusting feeling.

By the way, what the forumite wanted to hear from Boulez’s musicians, both Barenboim and X, was Mozart. Weird…

I did write about Bell’s Beethoven, because I hope him to struggle more and more to grow into a real musician and invite Barenboim as his soloist while taking a successful conducting job elsewhere he goes. Mastering all Beethoven symphonies will not be enough for talented brain. I know he was born quite a brain. I heard him confessing his student life, during which he entered the music school to literally go through the back door to achieve the highest score. Not all kids can make it.

Where should I go if I want to find trademark of full, mature sound of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra? Where should I go if I want to find all those fabulous musicians, who happened to make real music under Barenboim?

Wagner has nothing to do with my writing today. It was my mistake.

To be continued… (Too busy now. No time to make a posting in my blog.)

(Written on March 17, 2008)

I’m now ready to open my blog… But, I want to finish my mailing to Spain and Middle East first. It will take time. Thank god… the bloody nose wax, which was hurting so much for months, suddenly stopped when I resumed walking-exercise. Then, I exercised too much. It’s been years, but I’ve never experienced this physical symptom.

Hans Richter Haaser… Right, this Ravel-Specialist should have listened to this German pianist first when he opened the Beethoven-score to study. Also… this is why Boulez’s man didn’t sound enough stable during his Beethoven performance, despite the fact that Barenboim’s fan heavenly praised his Mozart concert and that his ensemble members were getting better and better during his Beethoven.

However… sometimes it is more fun to listen to struggling Beethoven than to normal authentic music. This is why I think audience loves to go to the live performance.

What is weird is that it’s not my first time to listen to Hans Richter Haaser’s Beethoven, but I’ve never thought about this. While writing my previous message, I had to remember from-Ravel-to-Beethoven, and then I heard this German Beethoven, then suddenly I was able to make a connection. Perhaps… I heard his imaginative sound during his struggling. But still, I thought that he still doesn’t belong to Barenboim-Schule… WHY? Weird…

Do you know how much it is hard to build Ravel-muscle? For a normal human being, one has to sacrifice his whole life. This is why I am so sick of Helene Grimaud’s big mouth. Recently, I heard this big mouth again. How come she can boast that different colors are found from her music? This is simply one-dimensional spread, ugly sound. When I checked her New-York-ensemble, she even had no idea about the basic concept of ensemble technique. I’ve even never heard of different colors from Boulez’s Paris Ensemble. No wonder Barenboim and Mehta were behind this big mouth. Sic! If she keeps selling Barenboim in her pro-life, I will make this posting appear in my blog.

(Written on March 24, 2008)

If I am forced to listen to Helene Grimaud as Barenboim’s protégé again and again, of course, I have more things to write.

In those days, I was becoming a troublemaker at the UM-KC. I knew that I was a troublemaker, but there was nothing for me to do. Unlike at the UI-UC, where my troublesome student life had only saved its Horn Professor’s dying professorship regardless of what happened between his favorite mouthpiece and me, my Chicago-fame only contributed to destroying Ms. Bloch’s lifelong achievement. I knew how much Prof. Bloch was appreciated by her fellow female professors.

One day, I was sitting in the corner of the hallway and a female professor of the piano department was walking in front of me. How can I forget that moment? …so much contempt in her eyes… There was nothing wrong with her private feeling against me.

Still… whenever I think of those days, I want to cry. Then, I returned to Korea to read an interview by Helen Grimaud, who called a female professor of Paris Conservatory a “French Bitch.” In the Piano-magazine, she even boasted that her opinion was encouraged by Kremer and Barenboim because it is a typical of genius. I had to think, think and think. Is my case similar to this French big mouth? So, I had to research all the possible information about her. Speechless… What surprised me most was that her troublesome kid-days were not the characteristics of genius musician but simply one of mentally insecure hysterical kid, who really need a mental therapy.

Thanks to this kind of big mouth, I couldn’t start my insulting Ms. Bloch in an open place. Time passed… and I hear this big mouth resumed her business. Perhaps… she also thought that I disappeared. What I feel funny about this female pianist is that this aggressive, even raw sound was an outcome of hours of Yoga-Practice.

I still think. Provably, Grimaud-scandal was quite a noisy, dirty issue in Paris during Barenboim-era. And I read quite a prominent male fans were supporting this female pianist. I promise. If I experienced THAT-contempt in female professors’ eyes in American music school, there must have been perhaps-more-contempt in female professors’ eyes in Paris Conservatory; toward Grimaud and especially toward Barenboim. Paris is known as a bimbo’s country, but its female professional society really differs from the BPO, where history of female musicians quite stinks. (I heard quite rumors…) It’s even higher than the standard of male musicians.

It’s been years now, and Grimaud’s Chopin still sounds less than nothing. I am still curious. Who was Grimaud’s “French Bitch” at the Paris Conservatory? Is this female professor still alive? A professor gave her student a tiny, but terrific advice, and then the student called her a French Bitch in an international magazine under Barenboim’s wing. Then she was able to enjoy her fame as a top-rated instructor in French music-festivals even after failing in winning the international competition. (That was basically why I dropped my jaw when I checked that Grimaud was leveled even above this Ravel-Specialist.) If Grimaud really wants to understand what Chopin should sound like, she should remember her Paris days, rather than her private friends or Barenboim’s Berlin. So sick of this big mouth. There is an audience, who loves wolves and wants to listen to Grimaud’s wild(?) music. I wish her a good luck in her future.

If Barenboim wanted to support my troublesome student life simply because he thought that I was like Helen Grimaud and my favorite was to rebel against all the professors of American Music School, he should stick to the bitches around him. I was just a lovely toy of all the ultimate pro-musicians, who wanted to fight; a fight between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Members, a fight between the CSO and the Northwestern, a fight between the American Music Schools, a fight between the Performers and the Musicologists (SIC!)… I felt funny when I read Barenboim’s description of du Pre as a rebel, because I think du Pre’s greatness lied in her calling her teacher a Cello-Daddy. Well… I am neither like Helen Grimaud nor like du Pre. I am who I am… just one of mere human beings, who happened to remember her previous performance and wanted to know its reason.

Returning to Struggling Beethoven…

I’m just thinking about specific notes in this Beethoven; specific notes require specific “tonguing.” I hear this same technique from Furtwangler’s Schubert Symphony. I also heard this same imagination from the former horn principal of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, who was struggling Rossini’s Overture. Then it was the same music when I heard the member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing American music, even Jazz.

All those were the same techniques, the same imagination which I never heard from the brass section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Sigh…

By the way, speaking of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, I want to writhe something more. I wanted to write this for more than ten years. I really hope its former horn principal find this posting. I was in Kansas City when he participated in the International Horn Society Summer Music Camp. By then, I was damn busy at learning how the horn principal of major orchestra should sound like… and then something terrible started to happen. Finally at the end of concert, he got furious at all the situation around him and just left the Music Camp. Everything surprised me, because absolutely no one in the International Horn Society understood the reason of his anger. Then… soon, I heard his retirement. (I think it was couple of years after this Schumann-concert.)

I wanted to write the exact spelling of his long name, so I went to the BSO’s homepage but in vain… They don’t provide information about the retired members. I even can’t find his name in List of horn players from Wikipedia. What’s wrong with me or him? Anyway… I just wanted him to know that I was there and heard why he lost his temper that moment. I’m still curious… Have the members of his horn section been there or heard his troublesome performance that day? If so, do they know why? If so… they only have blessed future no matter who conduct their orchestra. Frankly speaking, I don’t think they do…

While roaming their homepage, I am in shock to find that my favorite members, two indeed, also disappeared. No wonder they sounded like the CSO…

Should I finish here? I feel like having one more writing on Music and Barenboim.

One day, I was listening to the pop music program on the radio. As usual, they were chatting about their favorite pop-music, and suddenly their subject was changing. They said that all the pop-music program hosts voted for their favorite singer and the winner was Stevie Wonder. And then they kept explaining that Mr. Wonder’s hero-or-mentor-or-idol is Duke Ellington. And they played Wonder’s “Sir Duke.”

Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand
With an equal opportunity
For all to sing, dance and clap their hands
But just because a record has a groove
Dont make it in the groove
But you can tell right away at letter a
When the people start to move
They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people
They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people
Music knows it is and always will
Be one of the things that life just wont quit
But here are some of musics pioneers
That time will not allow us to forget
For theres basie, miller, satchmo
And the king of all sir duke
And with a voice like ellas ringing out
Theres no way the band can lose
You can feel it all over
You can feel it all over people
You can feel it all over
I can feel it all over-all over now people
Cant you feel it all over
Come on lets feel it all over people
You can feel it all over
Everybody-all over people

Now, compare Steve Wonder’s “Sir Duke” with Barenboim’s “Tribute To Ellington.”

Waltraud Meier already boasted that she was not that cheap and pop-music didn’t work for her. This voice(?) has been damn busy after reading my Boulez-writing. What is she going to do with this one?

In those days, despite all my miserable life, there was a fun time. I could hear all the rumors. Rumors frequently tell more than something; Beethoven and its sex-scandal at the New England Conservatory, the CSO members’ sex-tour, Cellist X’s sex-scandal, terrific sex-rumors inside the BPO, weirdest marriage inside the Julliard Music School, which male faculty really envied… When I became stuck in a computer room, it was still fun because I was able to read all the rumors while sneaking into the forums elsewhere.

Now… everybody seems to ZIP their mouth. I feel awful. I feel like destroying everybody’s fun game.

If I were Barenboim, I would secretly order Multi Orgasmic Man from Amazon and study very hard and think of various sitting postures during the rehearsal time. This is a real horrible sitting posture.

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