Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Jorge Corona’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KIAN SOLTANI-Tiny Desk Concert #880 (August 16, 2019).

I feel like listeners are more familiar with a violin than a cello.  Violins are everywhere (they’re so portable), but cellos only seem to come out when you need a bigger string section.  I have come to realize that I much prefer the sound of a cello to a violin  The cello can reach some impressive high notes (check out about three minutes into the Hungarian Rhapsody) but its the richness of the low notes that really impresses me,  Or maybe it’s just the historical value of Kian Soltani’s cello

It’s not every day someone walks into our NPR Music offices and unpacks an instrument made in 1680. And yet Kian Soltani, the 27-year-old cellist who plays with the authority and poetry of someone twice his age, isn’t exactly fazed by his rare Giovanni Grancino cello, which produces large, luminous tones. (He also plays a Stradivarius.)

I love Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody, and I love this one as well. What is it about Hungary that inspires such wild songs?

The Hungarian Rhapsody, by the late 19th century cellist and composer David Popper, traces its inspiration to similarly titled pieces by Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms, but showcases a number of hot-dogging tricks for the cello, including stratospheric high notes, flamboyant slides and a specific high-velocity bouncing of the bow called sautillé. Soltani nails all of them with nonchalant elegance, backed with companionable accompaniment by pianist Christopher Schmitt.

He says that that piece was a very extrovert, out-there piece and so from this mode we take it more inward.

To prove he can make his instrument truly sing, Soltani worked up his own arrangement of “Nacht und Träume” (Night and Dreams) by Franz Schubert, replacing the human voice with his cello’s warm, intimate vocalizing.

It’s fascinating to think that this song was musically written for the piano and voice.  But he has taken the vocal track and turned it into a moving (possibly better?) version on the cello.

His parents emigrated to Austria from Iran in the mid-1970s.  He grew up in Austria and loved it as a locus of great classical music.  But he also hold on to his Persian roots.

And in the Persian Fire Dance, Soltani’s own composition, flavors from his Iranian roots – drones and spiky dance rhythms – commingle with percussive ornaments.

This is a wonderful Concert and Soltani’s playing is really breathtaking.

[READ: September 1, 2019] Middlewest

I had heard of Skottie Young as the author of I Hate Fairyland (which sounds like a children’s book but is definitely not).

This book is also definitely not for children (although I see some people think it could be for YA readers).

Abel is a young boy who lives with his abusive father.  His father, Dale, is a real piece of work. Abel’s mother left, so Dale blames Abel and is on him all the time.

As the first chapter opens, Abel has overslept his paper route (the second time in five years).  His father is very angry even if Abel has been getting up at 4:30 every day for five years. As Abel is running late delivering the papers, his friends tell him to blow it off–it’s too late anyway, just go with them to play video games. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: THE NATIONAL-Tiny Desk Concert #279 (June 10, 2013).

I rather like The National and yet I haven’t spent much time really listening to them.  This Tiny Desk Concert really shows them off well.  It is extremely winning and enjoyable.

I enjoyed this part of the introduction:

we’d gotten word that the group would strip its sound way down for the occasion, sticking to two acoustic guitars and a bit of hand percussion. What we got instead was a fully fleshed-out septet, complete with horns and piano; the band showed up at 9:30 to rehearse and sound-check.

Though singer Matt Berninger had barely rested his voice from a show in the area the night before, The National dutifully performed gorgeous acoustic renditions of four tracks from its fine new album, Trouble Will Find Me.

I like the way the first song “This is the Last Time” starts quietly with just some acoustic guitars (playing quite interesting chords too) but builds, adding more and more instruments.  It grows and grows until it hits a new section where there’s a trumpet solo that fits perfectly in the song.  This new section introduces the second half of the song which never returns to the first part.  The backing vocals–between the guys singing the lines and the other guys singing the high “ahhh” that almost sounds like a horn–also work great together.  It’s a wonderfully full song.

“I Need My Girl” has a cool part with the two guitars.  They play a simple picked melody, but after the second verse, the second guitars plays it one step after the first, making it sound like an echo. And again that lone trumpet sounds terrific here.  This song is a bit more mellow.  In fact, this whole acoustic vibe sounds different from what I expect from the band.

The third song “Pink Rabbits” begins as primarily piano with lots of backing vocals.  But again the song builds slowly (with trumpet and trombone).  And again, after the horns go down there’s a backing voice that sounds a bit like muted trumpet.

Through the whole concert, I love Berninger’s casual demeanor while singing–hands in pockets, gently swaying.

Bob tells them that they are performing Tiny Desk’s first encore.  The blurb notes that the band:

even treated the hundreds of worshipful gawkers to Building 2.0’s first-ever Tiny Desk encore, in response to a roar of applause that could be heard in the far reaches of the newsroom downstairs.

Berninger says this is usually when they run back stage to piss but we’ll just go behind your desk.  Bob jokes that it’s no different from the trombone spit that he sees back there.

Berninger introduces “Sea of Love” by saying this is the only song we’ve ever written with a harmonica in it…and its the last one.

The full band sings and it sounds terrific.  I especially like the pause in the line “they say love is a virtue don’t….they” is pretty dramatic.  And I am tickled by the final lines of the song (while the backing singers do some great work: “I see you rushing down / tell me how to reach you / I see you rushing down / what did Harvard teach you.”

The National are usually more dramatic, I believe–almost theatrical, but this quieter version is really quite enjoyable.

[READ: April 2, 2016] Feathers

Jorge Corona introduces this book by explaining that he had an idea for a Beauty and the Beast kind of story that features a boy with feathers.  And it slowly expanded into the story we have here.

The story opens with a bright white city in the distance.  In the foreground, there’s some dark Victorian-looking houses.  And as we zoom in, we learn that the dark city is known as the Maze.  And in this Maze live the poor.  Little kids, called “mice” are street urchins who run all over the Maze.  And then there’s a man with a beard.  The man finds a baby in an alley.  The baby is born with feathers and he decides to take the boy in and raise him.

The scene jumps to eleven years later.  The boy, known as Poe has grown up and has stayed hidden.  He still has feathers and he goes out at night, but no one knows about him.  People just speak of the ghost–Poe–who swoops down unseen and does things (mostly to help the poorest) and then flees. (more…)

Read Full Post »