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Monday, November 2, 2009

The Listening Room – Volume 1

We are excited to be launching Chameleon’s new blog series entitled the “Listening Room”.

Many people ask me where my programming ideas come from, and in almost every case they stem from what I’m listening to. The sounds themselves serve as the source of inspiration and every piece on every Chameleon concert is something on my iPod – something that I want to hear – not for scholarship, but for love of music.

Every year, I listen to hundreds and hundreds of works. Some I already know and love, some are brand new, and some I am re-discovering. My guiding principles are simple: keep an open ear, an open mind, and an open heart and always be curious.

Since this is a first post, it seems a good place for disclaimers: I don’t just listen to classical chamber music. Shocking but true! Sometimes I need a little break and for me that might mean anything from Edith Piaf to the Beatles to Richard Thompson. I’ve gotten to the age where I’m pretty shy of top 40, but I’ve recently rediscovered my love for ABBA and am enjoying it immensely.

Last week I was positively obsessed with Libby Larsen’s “Corker” for clarinet and percussion, written in 1991. Ms. Larsen describes it as drawn from popular music of the 40s. For me, it feels like film noir – black and white, with characters lurking around smoky, shadowy corners. My recording is by Boston’s own Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble. There’s another on Amazon by Innova Recordings. It’s a short work, only 7 minutes long, and so multiple listenings have been on the menu.

Also on my docket were two piano quartets: Beethoven’s Piano Quartet No.3 in C Major, WoO 36 and Dvorak’s 2nd piano quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 87. Beethoven’s was written when he was only 15, and although it’s not complex or profound music I adore its light and breezy textures, especially the third movement Rondo. The recording I have is particularly amazing: “Martha Argerich and Friends Live from the Lugano Festival 2005: Chamber Music.”

This week I imagine that my ears will be filled with our upcoming concert program, but check back in mid-November for my next installment.

I hope you enjoy these listening adventures and join in the discussion!


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