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Posted by Alex Ross

Satie

In my piece on Joséphin Péladan and the Salons de la Rose + Croix, I devote some space to Erik Satie's astonishing score for Péladan's mystical drama Le Fils des Étoiles, which was produced in conjunction with the first Salon in 1892. I first discovered the work as a teen-ager; I had bought a copy of the Dover compendium of Satie piano music, and became fascinated with what was described inscrutably as a "Wagnérie Kaldéenne de Sâr Péladan." I used to play the opening six-note chords at ear-splitting volume, somewhat in defiance of the instruction "En blanc et immobile." Not until I commenced work on my long-gestating book Wagnerism did I attempt to come to terms with Péladan's writing. Needless to say, there will be a sizable section on Péladan in the fourth chapter of the book, titled "Grail Temple: Mystic, Decadent, and Satanic Wagner."

What many people don't realize about Le Fils des Étoiles — to the extent they realize anything about this still obscure score — is that the three Preludes printed in standard Satie editions are only a portion of the music that Satie wrote for the play. There is actually about an hour of music extant: one can see the complete work in a fine Bärenreiter Urtext edition. The pianist Steffen Schleiermacher prepared the text and supplied performing notes; he has also made a recording, for the MD+G label. It is not clear how Satie's music was configured with the play; perhaps it was played in the background during the three acts, which are titled "The Vocation," "The Initiation," and "The Incantation." Péladan made a further mysterious comment to the effect that the music was played by harp and flute — an impossibility given the chromatic nature of Satie's writing. There are significant differences between Satie's manuscript and the published version, which appeared in 1896: 1) the piece was originally a Pastorale Kaldéenne, not a Wagnérie; 2) the manuscript has bar lines and time signatures, while the 1896 edition has none; and 3) the original lacks such markings as "En blanc et immobile" and "Pâle et hiératique."

Few people took notice of Les Fils des Étoiles upon its first appearance, and what comments there were tended to be negative. The critic and novelist Henry Gauthier-Villars, Colette's husband, called it "faucet salesman's music," triggering a long, absurd feud with Satie that culminated in threats of a duel. Ravel apparently made an orchestration of the three Preludes, or at least was working on one; alas, this version subsequently disappeared, if it was ever completed. It must have made a gorgeous din. An orchestration by Alexis Roland-Manuel serves as a decent substitute.

Discerning commentaries on Le Fils des Étoiles can be found in Robert Orledge's Satie the Composer, Steven Moore Whiting's Satie the Bohemian, Caroline Potter's Erik Satie: A Parisian Composer and His World, Grace Wai Kwan Gates's "Satie's Rose-Croix Piano Works," and Patrick Gowers's "Satie's Rose Croix Music (1891-1895)." The classic book on Péladan is Christophe Beaufils's 1993 biography, Joséphin Péladan: Essai sur une maladie du lyrisme. I also found much of value in Robert Pincus-Whitten's Occult Symbolism in France, Mary Slavkin's Dynamics and Divisions at the Salons of The Rose-Croix: Statistics, Aesthetic Theories, Practices, and Subjects, and Roland van der Hoeven's "L'idéalisme musical: Musique et musiciens autour du Sâr Péladan."

Welcome to fatherhood

Jun. 18th, 2017 22:04
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Posted by Mary

When you’ve been up for a day and a night supporting your partner through a long labour, there’s nothing like my children to confirm you’re heading in the right direction with your life:

Welcome to fatherhood Dan!

Yes, V and A’s cousin, the first on Andrew’s side of the family, was born yesterday.

Fresh Veggie Noodle Salad

Jun. 16th, 2017 18:49
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Posted by Sara Chatfield


This is the perfect summer meal -- fresh, light, and packed with different textures.  I used carrots, cucumber, and avocado in my salad, but you can really use any vegetable that's good raw -- snow peas or thinly sliced cabbage or kale would be great too.  What brings this salad from good to great is a healthy handful of fresh herbs -- again, a mix is ideal, but you can choose your favorites or select what looks freshest at the store.  Don't skip peanuts on top -- they add great crunch.  If you'd like more protein, some shredded rotisserie chicken on top is a great addition.


Fresh Veggie Noodle Salad (adapted from the Kitchn)
Serves 2-3

For the dressing:
3 T olive oil
2 T soy sauce
2 T lime juice
2 tsp honey
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sambal oelek or Asian chile-garlic paste
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger

For the salad:
4 ounces rice noodles, prepared according to package instructions and rinsed under cold water
1 large carrot, peeled
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1 avocado
A handful of mixed fresh herbs, roughly chopped (I used Thai basil, mint, and a scallion)
1/2 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Make the vinaigrette: Combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined.

Make the salad: Cook or soak the noodles according to package instructions, then drain and rinse under cold water until fully chilled.  Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Create long ribbons of carrot using a vegetable peeler, or grate.  Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and thinly slice.  Cube the avocado.  Add the vegetables to the noodles, along with all the fresh herbs, and toss to combine.

Add about half the dressing and toss to combine.  Taste, and add more dressing as desired.  Serve topped with chopped peanuts and more dressing.

Bookshelf

Jun. 16th, 2017 17:37
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Posted by Alex Ross

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New publications of interest.

Harvey Sachs, Toscanini: Musician of Conscience (Liveright)

Severine Neff, Maureen Carr, and Gretchen Horlacher, eds., "The Rite of Spring" at 100 (Indiana UP)

Andrew Talle, Beyond Bach: Music and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century (Illinois UP)

Alice Goodman, History Is Our Mother: Three Libretti (New York Review)

Kyle Gann, Charles Ives's Concord: Essays after a Sonata (Illinois UP)

Hans Rudolf Vaget, "Wehvolles Erbe": Richard Wagner in Deutschland — Hitler, Knappertsbusch, Mann (Fischer)

Miscellany

Jun. 15th, 2017 20:03
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Posted by Alex Ross

IMG_0690

In the New York Times, Michael Cooper writes about the leadership search at the LA Phil, noting that two superb candidates are already on the premises: Gail Samuel and Chad Smith. The board may be tempted to bring in a glamorous-seeming outside presence, but chances are very good that no newcomer will be able to do nearly as well as those who have been embedded with this singular institution for so many years. Its ascent has not been the work of Deborah Borda alone. The LA Phil has attracted many superlatives lately. I will call it the least broken orchestra in the world — and you know what they say about things that aren't broken....  Excerpts from Judd Greenstein's opera A Marvelous Order, dramatizing the conflict between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs over the urban landscape, can be heard at the River to River festival, June 15-19.... The Make Music NY festival lost a promised grant and has found itself $10000 short. They have launched an Indiegogo campaign so the 2017 edition can go ahead on June 21. Make Music is one of the best things that have happened to New York musical life in the past decade; consider helping them a little.... The first two issues of Sounds Like Now, a UK new-music magazine edited by the more or less omniscient Tim Rutherford-Johnson, are now on the virtual stands.... The Plush Festival, organized by Adrian Brendel in the eponymous Dorset village, is being co-curated this year by none other than Harrison Birtwistle. The first of three summer installments unfolds this weekend, with Mark Padmore singing Sir Harry's Songs from the Same Earth alongside Schubert Lieder.... In the July issue of Opera, John Allison has a tantalizing review of Tero Saarinen's choreographed production of Sibelius's Kullervo, which played at the Finnish National Opera in May. He suggests that it could travel to Lincoln Center or the Edinburgh Festival. Let's hope.

Sister

Jun. 12th, 2017 21:56
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Posted by Mary

We were playing the Frozen soundtrack to A, and eventually turned it off after both kids started nagging about dinner, and wanting brownies for dinner.

A: Where’s Elsa? And Ana?

Andrew: They’re having a rest.

A: She not having a rest. She want her sister!

April 2017

Jun. 12th, 2017 06:18
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Posted by Mary

April was a bit of a mess, from my point of view. V’s vacation care bookings always need to be done many weeks in advance, using the worst app on the entire Internet; among other things, Excursion 1 and Excursion 2 are the same booking each day but mean different things each day, so you need to sit there with a cheat sheet to book it. It also books out within hours. It wasn’t something I had time for during oncall training at work, so we ended up with a very patchy set of vacation care bookings for the Easter holidays and both Andrew and I had to pick out a bunch of days to take off work to supplement V’s vacation care.

Since I’ve switched jobs a couple of times in the last few years, I’ve had weeks off at a time (in fact, months between the Ada Initiative and Stripe). Andrew on the other hand hadn’t taken a holiday in years that didn’t involve a load of packing and driving the kids somewhere, so he took a few weeks off and spent several days alone with a cryptic crossword.

It was a month of birthdays. For Sarah’s birthday we zipped up to the mountains on the 8th for lunch with Mum’s entire family after one of V’s soccer games and drove back down the same night.

My birthday fell on Good Friday, which happens not infrequently (also in 1995 and 2006, in contrast my birthday was last on Easter Sunday in 1974 and won’t be again until 2047, happy 66th birthday to me). It’s always a little strange to celebrate on Good Friday; I’m just Catholic enough to feel the dissonance. I also feel the dissonance of the children needing me to celebrate my birthday, which usually involves me having to make my own cake. We spent our Easter weekend at home, thank goodness. It took me a long time to realise as an adult that visiting family isn’t a mandatory use of long weekends.

Sam’s 30th birthday was that month too, and he had a small family party on ANZAC Day, a nice afternoon but also with a strange edge as a gathering of people who were mostly seeing each other in Tamworth caring for Rob, rather than in Sydney.

Otherwise, on the last Friday of Andrew’s time off, we realised our long-held dream of going to Wet n Wild together without kids. By the time we did it I was dreading it; we went in late March with the kids and I took V a second time on one of my days off with him and I went just wanting to check the box with Andrew. But we had a lot of fun, even though he tipped me forward off the raft at the end of T5, and I refused to go on the Bombora, the last of the high adrenaline rides to go. Always leave something to aspire to.

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