Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tasmin Little and Piers Lane - Franck, Szymanowski, Fauré

In my previous reviews of Tasmin Little/Piers Lane recordings, I remarked on their chemistry, and how that transformed the music. It's still in effect.

Little and Lane perform as equal partners, and I wouldn't have it any other way. César Franck's sonata is given an evocative and yet sometimes understated reading that seems well-suited to the character of the work.

Little and Lane play Fauré's Romance in B-flat major with a delicate simplicity that makes this oft-recorded work sound fresh and new again.

Szymanowski's music makes up the remainder of the album. In the sonata, the team shows they can play powerfully when the music merits it. Little digs deep into this music, illuminating the structural drama that keeps the music moving forward.

The Romance in D major veritably sings in this recording. Tasmin's Little's playing always delivers a beautifully rounded tone, even in the extreme high register. That skill makes this performance of the Romance one of the most moving I've heard.

The disc concludes with Szymanowski's Nocturne and Tarantella. Little manages to evoke both images of Spain and the Tatra Mountains in her playing. And it's an interpretation that works.

Tasmin Little and Piers Lane make a wonderful team. Highly recommended to all interested in true musical artistry.

Tasmin Little: Franck Szymanowski, Fauré
Tasmin Little, violin; Piers Lane, piano

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Clutch of Comic Cameos

Two creative teams, two comic strips, two different uses for cameos. Having one comic strip character show up in another is something that's becoming more common -- especially in certain strips. But it's why a character appears that makes or breaks the sequence.

In this 1/12/17 sequence from Baldo, by Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos, the cameo reinforces the gag.

The third-panel punch line would be a little flat without Goofy appearing in the second. And without the punch line in the third panel, Goofy's appearance doesn't make much sense. Both are needed to land the joke.

The 5/3/17 sequence of Barney & Clyde takes a different approach.

Here the cameo is used for some meta-humor. it's something the creative team of Gene Weingarten, Dan Weingarten, and David Clark excel in.

Rex Morgan, M.D. is indeed a respected physician.  The strip often tackles important medical issues in a fairly accurate fashion. And, in those papers that run both comics, Rex Morgan would be local to Barney & Clyde (most likely on the same page). The humor rests all on references to the world of newspaper comics.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Diabelli Project 154 - String Quartet

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme, these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

This is the eighth flash composition sketch I've written in this series for string quartet. Unlike some of my other recurring sketches, I don't think all of these string quartet pieces are part of some larger work. It's possible some may fit together.

In this case, I think it's the start of something new. When I started it, the only concept I had in my head was simplicity. So no exotic meters, or extreme registers, or advanced techniques. I started with the opening motif and just built from there.

As always, you can use any or all of the posted Diabelli Project sketches as you wish for free. Just be sure to share the results. I'm always curious to see what direction someone else can take this material.