If you have spent any time listening to Bluegrass music then you are more than familiar with the mandolin. After all, didn’t the mandolin virtuoso Bill Monroe virtually invent this traditional genre? As I pointed out in a previous blog entry, there are other ways to
play mandolin besides Bluegrass and a perusal of the Brazilian Choro Bandolin tradition is a profitable investment in time. Even a casual investigation of the Bluegrass and Choro traditions will eventually lead one back to the mother lode of mandolin performances – the European classical tradition. As I mentioned in the previous blog, in part, the North American and Brazilian mandolins traditions can be traced back to the mostly Neapolitan roots. In the seventeen hundreds there was nothing more Italian or Neapolitan than the city of Venice and the music of Vivaldi. Some of the most popular mandolin pieces in the classical repertoire are the Vivaldi concertos. The attached performance is the Antonio Vivaldi – Concerto for 2 Mandolins and Orchestra (RV532) by Het CONSORT (a well known Dutch Mandolin Chamber Orchestra).
Reesha Oud Picks
From the north American perspective the interesting things about the mandolins in this video are that the instruments are round back and very small. The other thing of note is the style of pick used. New World (USA and Brazil) mandolin players tend to use short, thick stiff plectrums. The performers in the Vivaldi orchestra all use thin quill like plectrums almost identical to the reesha, a pick used by Middle Eastern musicians to play the Oud. I don’t know what advantages that would offer. Maybe it is just a question of quality of sound. North American mandolin players favor a very percussion string attack and that maybe generates a sound out of favor in the classical tradition.
Below is another Vivaldi performance this time by the Israeli musician Avi Avital who is the first mandolin player to receive a GRAMMY nomination in the category “Best Instrumental Soloist” (2010) for his recording of Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto (Metropolis Ensemble / Andrew Cyr). He has won numerous competitions and awards including Germany’s ECHO Prize for his 2008 recording with the David Orlowsky Trio and the AVIV Competition (2007), the preeminent national competition for Israeli soloists. He plays an unusual looking instrument built by the Israeli Luthier Avi Kerman. The instrument has been described as a double topped instrument with a convex back. It is in essence two mandolins – one inside the other.
The compositions are so similar one wonders if the solo concerto is just a re-orchestration of the duo.
For mandolin music this is just the tip of the iceberg and there are many, many more Mandolin videos on YouTube. There are lots of performances to explore….. viva YouTube
On the poster Moulettes describe themselves as a British Touring Electric Art Rock Band. That is quite a mouthful. When I checked out their YouTube video clips I ended up with some sense that the band may be an up dated version of the classic British Folk Rock Band Steel Eyed Span. Now, having seen and heard them perform I don’t think I could have been more wrong. There is almost no element of “folk” in their performance but the concept of “Art Rock” is probably the right descriptor. This is no “lead guitar, rhythm, bass and drums” rock and roll outfit. This is a completely original band with a configuration and a performance that is so completely out of the box that it is outside any of my frames of reference. I am speechless. I overheard a member of the audience suggesting that the performance reminded him of Frank Zappa’s music. Although I am vaguely familiar with Zappa’s music I really can’t authenticate that observation. But he could be right and that may be as good a hook as any on which to hang Tuesday’s night performance. Here is some information from their web site:
What is Moulettes?
moulette /ˈmu.lət/ noun
1.(physics) a unit of force exerted by group of small objects/persons- energy exerted results in force disproportionate to their size.
2. (botany, biology) a seed, cell or embryonic vessel containing a hatchling.
3. a type of barnacle or sea mollusk, known for their resilience and traction. Free-swimming as larvae; as adults form a hard shell and live attached to submerged surfaces such as reefs, hulls and wharves.
4. a small morsel of food believed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
5. a short story or song, both factual and fantastical in its themes; a refrain, spell, sound sequence or chorus.
They are not ‘The moulettes’, their songs are ‘Moulettes’. Welcome to the multi-verse of Moulettes.
Band Members:Hannah Miller – 5 String Cello, Cellola, Vocals, Guitar, Synths, and Autoharp.
Raevennan Husbandes – Electric Guitar, Vocals, Acoustic guitars & Dobro.
Ollie Austin – Drums, Guitar, Synth, Vocals.
Jim Mortimore – Bass, Double Bass, Moog, Vocals
Here are some more images from the concert.
This was a night of very original music from a band that obviously put a lot of work into their arrangements and performance. I only have one small negative comment. The volume of the sound re-enforcement was too loud for me to really hear all the nuances of the music.
The band would like to thank Keith and the committee for arranging the concert and they would also like to thank the volunteers and the sponsors, Burrito Grill for the food and Trickle Creek Lodge for the accommodation.
An Art Rock Band deserves an “arty” finale to this blog entry – and here it is – a technicolour abstract photo of Jim Mortimore in full flight on electric bass.
Of course we all knew it was coming but it still seems so sudden. It’s 12 months since that last nation wide televised concert. There have been a lot of tributes on the news last night (Wednesday, 2017/10/18) including a very tearful farewell from the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Perhaps among the tributes this one below will rank high on the list.
When it comes to Irish Tenors I tend not to like them. When it comes to the song Danny Boy then Lord spare me enough is enough. And yet when I hear the Irish Ballad The Parting Glass my objections to syrupy Irish Ballads melts away. Here is an exceptional choral version of a song that has been a favorite of Irish Tenors and folk singers for many a year. It is a version done by the UCD Choral Scholars – “The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, under the artistic direction of Desmond Earley, is Ireland’s leading collegiate choral ensemble. With a large repertoire ranging from art to popular music, and stretching from the medieval to the contemporary in style, this choir gives many concerts throughout the academic year, both in Ireland and abroad. Following a competitive selection process each September, eighteen gifted students are awarded a scholarship, with recipients of the award coming from a range of academic disciplines across the university, from Music to Medicine, Law, Agricultural Science, Commerce and Engineering.” – Wikipedia
For pure emotion check the following video – Choir singers from University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire Women’s Concert Chorale surprised locals of Peadar O’Donnell’s bar in Derry with their beautiful rendition of The Parting Glass.
And when you remove the syrup from the song this is what you get – Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners. Remember that before the Pogues there was the Dubliners…….
Given the current situation in Spain now would be a good time to re-read George Orwell’s HOMAGE TO CATALONIA. It was written almost 80 years ago and recounts George Orwell’s experiences of fighting on the Spanish government’s side in the Spanish civil war. In black and white terms it was “democracy versus fascism”, but as George Orwell explains it was not quite that simple. The same can be said of the current situation in Spain. The book has an immediacy that still feels fresh today. Some readers may think the discussions of the political parties at the time a little tedious but if you are so inclined George gives you the option to skip those parts. It is well worth a revisit to get some understanding of Catalonia.
AUTUMN TONES is a chamber music ensemble of local musicians with Nicola Everton on clarinet, Sue Gold on piano and Martine denBok on violin and viola. All three musicians are associated with the Symphony of the Kootenays as either members of the orchestra or as visiting soloists. Nicola and Sue have performed many times in the area, along with cellist Jeff Faragher, in the classical chamber music ensemble THE SELKIRK TRIO. In both the Selkirk Trio and Autumn Tones the intent seems to be to explore the modern edge of classical music as well as excursions into the realms of the traditional classical repertoire, Jazz, Latin, Klezmer or anything else that strikes their fancy. On this beautiful fall afternoon in the lobby of the Key City Theatre that is the musical realms they set out to explore.
They kicked off the afternoon with Darius Milhaud’s Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano.For me it was a moment of unbelievable synchronicity. On the drive to the theater I had been listening to some Brazilian Choro on the car CD player (yes, some of us still listen to CDs). On this beautiful fall afternoon what could be more appropriate than bouncing down the highway to the warm rhythms of Brazilian Choro. From the opening bars of the Milhaud piece the choro music I had just been listening to immediately came to mind and I began mentally adding in the percussive sounds of the Brazilian Pandeiro to the trio on stage.The Pandeiro is a Brazilian tambourine that is the heart beat of samba. That mental notion is completely understandable when you consider Darius Milhaud’s musical associations with Jazz and Brazilian music. He was one of the most prolific modern classical composers of the last century and was influenced by the sounds of Jazz and Brazilian music. While it is not his only claim to fame he was a musical mentor to the Jazz musician Dave Brubeck. So much so that Brubeck named his son Darius after the composer. One of Milhaud’s former students was the popular songwriter Burt Baccharach. Milhaud is reported to have told Bacharach, “Don’t be afraid of writing something people can remember and whistle. Don’t ever feel discomfited by a melody.”. This Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano lived up to that standard with lots of melody, rhythm and musical interplay between the instruments.
Popularity in music usually means world tours and mega arena performances. Modern classical composers do not rate that sort of popularity or attention and yet, in the realm of classical music, Arvo Part is probably the most popular modern classical composer of the last few years. This Estonian composer of classical and religious music uses self invented compositional techniques in the minimalist style (think Phillip Glass with darker Eastern European overtones). For this afternoon’s performance the trio selected Part’s popular Spiegel im Spiegel written in 1978. “Spiegel im Spiegel” in German literally can mean both “mirror in the mirror” as well as “mirrors in the mirror”, referring to an infinity mirror which produces an infinity of images reflected by parallel plane mirrors: the tonic triads in the composition are endlessly repeated with small variations as if reflected back and forth. The piece was originally written for a single piano and violin. Other versions exist with cello or viola, double bass, clarinet, trombone, flute etc. This performance is for piano, clarinet and violin and is in F major in 6/4 time.
Aram Il’yich Khachaturian (1903 – 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor and is best known for his composition the Sabre Dance. He was the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century and is considered one of Soviet Russia’s leading composer. While following the established musical traditions of Russia, he broadly used Armenia and, to a lesser extent, Caucasian, Eastern & Central European, and Middle Eastern peoples’ folk music in his works. His style is “characterized by colorful harmonies, captivating rhythms, virtuosity, improvisations, and sensuous melodies”. The trio performed movements 1 and 3 from his Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano.
In the vernacular the clarinet has been referred to as a liquorice stick. Maybe it is the colour of the instrument but I like to think it is because of the liquid smoothness of the music of Mozart when played on the clarinet. Autumn Tones pulled us away from the “edginess” of contemporary classical music into the smooth mainstream of WolfgangAmadeus Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, K498 in E flat Major for piano, clarinet and viola. No composer before Mozart had written for this combination of instruments. The origin of the nickname Kegelstatt is interesting. The German word Kegelstatt means “a place where skittles are played,” akin to a bowling alley. Mozart is reputed to have written this while playing skittles. At the time the clarinet was a relatively new instrument and in the first performance the then vituoso Anton Stadler played clarinet, Mozart the viola, and Franziska von Jacquin the piano. This trio composition, along with his Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet concerto helped increase the instrument’s popularity. The piece is in three movements: Andante / Menuetto / Rondeaux: Allegretto
For the final piece the trio took us back to the edge for a little slice of Yiddish Klezmer in the tune Moldavanke. This style of music is mostly associated with Eastern European Jewish traditions and is performed in a lively bouncing style with overtones of Jewish humor and melancholy. Nicola has fallen in love with the style and wants to put together a Klezmer band.
Autumn Tones would like to thank The Kootenay Cultural Alliance and sponsors that have made this tour possible.
A BONUS: By it’s very nature music is of the moment. As soon as the musical note leaps into the air it is in the process of dying and until the invention of sound recordings that was it. All we had left were memories. The recording industry has changed all that and performances can become more permanent if they are recorded. Unfortunately not all performances make it “onto wax”. This concert by Autumn Tones is now but a pleasant memory. Perhaps some day Autumn Tones and The Selkirk Trio can be persuaded to record those musical gems that over recent years they have cast to the winds. To make up for that here is a bonus for you from YouTube –
Darius Milhaud: Suite op.157b for Clarinet, Violin and Piano – Cologne Chamber Soloists