Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Boris Papandopulo Concertos Reintroduced to the World

Boris Papandopulo's Piano Concerto No. 3 is one of the best-known works by this relatively unknown composer.

Croatian composer Papandopulo was a powerhouse of creativity, producing over 460 works, plus writing volumes as a music writer, journalist, and reviewer. And he also regularly performed as a concert pianist and accompanist.

The Piano Concerto No. 3 is a work of a composer who's in full command of his talents. Folk elements, classical post-romanticism, and jazz are thrown together in a heady mix. Rather than being a stylistic mess, the concerto's a high-energy work that's just plain fun to listen to.

Pianist Oliver Triendl performs admirably, effectively conveying the exuberance of the music. Although the work is a good half-hour long, it seems to fly by in half that time.

Papandopulo's Violin Concerto is a more substantial work, staying more within the strictly classical realm. It was composed during the Second World War, which may explain its relatively darker tone.

Still, Papandopulo's essentially joyful spirit can't remain suppressed. The melodies fairly sparkle at times, especially in the first movement.

Violin soloist Dan Zhu plays with a rich, warm tone. He also captures the "sobbing" sound of a gypsy violin, an important folk element in this concerto. There's plenty of technical challenges here, as well as some beautifully crafted melodies.

Thanks to CPO for bringing these extraordinary concertos back to the world stage.

Boris Papandopulo: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.3; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 125
Oliver Triendl, piano; Dan Zhu, violin; Rijeka Opera Symphony Orchestra; Ville Matvejeff, conductor 
CPO 55 100-2

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Straco Express Layout, Part 56 - Trucking transition?

Read all the installments of the Straco Express layout project here.

Vintage Japanese tin toys from the early postwar era continue to surprise and delight. Just when I think I have a handle on the subject, I discover something new.

In this case, it was another variation.

One of the first additions to the Straco layout was my cattle truck (which had seen better days). Two years ago I found a variant -- an Express van. Recently I saw a third version for sale -- a covered flatbed.


All three friction toys were made by the same company. Though the colors of the cab and chassis detail are reversed, they're identical for all three vehicles.


At first, I thought that might be the only difference. A careful comparison of the three trucks yielded other differences. The bottom of the Express van is flat. The other two are rounded (perhaps for greater structural strength?).

Note how flat the bottom of the Express van is (left), compared to that of
the newer covered flatbed truck (right).

The hubcaps for the Express van are secured with rivet heads. The other two have solid hubcaps the cover the rivet heads.

The beds of the Express van and covered flat bed trucks are secured to their chassis with six tabs. My cattle truck only has four.

From flat chassis (left) to rounded (middle); and
from six securing tabs (left and middle) to four (right).
To me, this suggests an evolution of design.


  • First generation: Rivet head hubcaps, flat chassis bottom, six securing tabs.
  • Second generation: Solid hubcaps (cheaper to make and install), rounded chassis bottom
  • Third generation: Four securing tabs -- two less tabs means less labor. That's not insignificant for large volumes of toys assembled by hand

That would my new acquisition a transition piece between the Express van and the cattle truck.



Whether it is or not, this covered flatbed makes a great addition to the Straco Express display layout.


Layout construction:
  • Pegboard: $4.95
  • Flathead Screws: $0.40
  • Molding: $2.49
  • SilClear: borrowed from a friend
  • Green Paint: leftover  from another project
  • Wood Screws: $3.60
  • Felt Pads: $1.99
Power Pack: $5.90
Small Houses: $3.00
Testor's Gray Paint for road: $1.29

Bandai Areo Station: $8.99
2 tinplate signs: $1.00
4 tinplate signs (with train) $5.99
Cragstan HO Light Tower $20.49
4 nesting houses $4.99
Tinplate gas station: $5.00

Vehicles:
  • Two Japanese toy cars: $2.00
  • A.W. Livestock truck: $4.99
  • Taxi: $2.99
  • Ambulance: $2.99
  • Two Japanese patriotic cars: $6.99
  • Haji three-wheel sedan $3.00
  • Haji three-wheel tanker $5.00
  • 1950's sedan $2.99
  • LineMar Police Car $9.00
  • LineMar Pepco Truck $8.50
  • LineMar Bond Bread Van $8.00
  • LineMar Fire Engine $4.95
  • LineMar Dump Truck $12.99
  • LineMar GE Courier Car $10.98
  • LineMar County School Bus $9.99
  • Nomura Red Sedan $5.00
  • Nomura Police Car $2.52
  • Nomura lumber truck $3.48
  • 6 Nomura vehicles $16.99
  • Shioji Express Truck $10.00
  • Shioji Covered Truck $12.50
  • Orange Sedan $10.99
  • King Sedan $9.95
  • Indian Head logo sedan $4.99
  • Indian Head (?) convertible $18.00
  • Yellow/red Express truck $9.99
  • Red limousine FREE
Total Project Cost: $260.85

Monday, July 17, 2017

Diabelli Project 156 - Wind Trio

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 not the first flash composition I've done in this series for wind trio. In fact, I have five other wind trio sketches posted. What makes this different is the instrumentation. The other sketches were for flute, Bb clarinet, and bassoon. It's a nice combination with all kinds of timbral possibilities.

This one, for oboe, Bb clarinet, and bassoon, has a different character. The two double reeds plus single reed give the ensemble a warmer tone than the flute, clarinet and bassoon combination. In the latter, the flute has a metallic quality to it. For that type of trio, I think of blending three different primary colors.

For this trio, I think more of combining two different shades of the same color (the double reeds), with a separate contrasting but near-related hue (the single reed). The resulting sketch revels in those color combinations with long unisons that gradually break apart.

This combination of instruments has a lot of possibilities, too. I suspect this won't be the last time I'll be using it in this series.


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.