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Archive for the ‘Rachel Barton Pine’ Category

 SOUNDTRACK: MIRAMAR-Tiny Desk Concert #594 (January 27, 2017).

Miramar is from Richmond Virginia, but they play beautiful bolero music.

When the members of Richmond, Virginia’s Miramar first heard the music of Puerto Rican composer Sylvia Rexach, they were intrigued that she wasn’t as well-known as other popular bolero writers. So they came up with an album’s worth of her songs to cover, and have been wowing audiences across the country with their exquisite renditions of her songs.

When they pulled into NPR to play behind Bob Boilen’s desk, Miramar’s members made time stop with a performance that swept us off our feet, ably backed by friends of theirs from Richmond who played gorgeous string arrangements behind the band. So turn the lights down low, clear out the living-room carpet and find your dance partner for this one.

What is it about bolero music?

Some say you have to have loved and lost to appreciate the beauty of the bolero. Since its inception in Cuba in the early 20th century, the music has been designed for thoughtful and emotional consideration of the joys and pains that come with loving someone so intensely, it becomes like a religion to adore that special someone (an actual bolero lyric).

They play four songs: “Sin Ti” (without You) opens with some great Spanish guitar and shakers (which sound like water).  The song slowly builds and then the two singers come in.  Rei Alvaresz and Laura Ann Singh sing beautifully together.

The rest of the band includes: Marlysse Simmons Argandoña (piano, organ); Hector Barez (percussion); James Farmer (bass) and Sebastian Cruz (guitar).

“Estatua” (Statue) is faster and more upbeat.  The large string section is put to full use here. (With strings provided by Ellen Riccio (violin); Treesa Gild (violin); Kimberly Ryan (viola) and Schuyler Slack (cello)).  I love when she is singing “te creo” and he is singing low vocals underneath her.  The strings add wonderful drama to this mournful yet beautiful song.

“Urgancia” (Urgency) has some very cool organ sounds—very retro 60s swinging (almost soap opera)–sound.  But in addition there’s beautiful guitar and their great vocals as well.   The first three songs were all originals

“Tus Pasos”  (Your Footsteps) is by Sylvia Rexach–the inspiration for everything they’ve done.  It is a sweet, romantic, old-fashioned sounding love song.

[READ: July 6, 2016] Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco

I’ve been really enjoying the way the events of the previous books lead to the follow-up.  So you actually should read these in order, which is more fun anyway.

Our opener shows masked men robbing a grocery store–Lunch Lady is able to stop them with fizzy soda.

But the plot of this book is the field trip that was foreshadowed in the previous one.  The Breakfast Bunch is excited to go, except that Hector forgot to get his permission slip signed.  So Dee (who is increasingly more sarcastic as the books go on) forges the signature–who will know?

Lunch Lady and Betty are bored because everyone is going to the field trip–there’s no lunch today.  But when Mrs Palonski learns that her chaperone can’t come she reluctantly agrees to let Lunch Lady come along.  (Betty tells her to go and have fun even though she sighs when she’s left all alone).  Of course Mrs Paloski is worried that Lunch Lady never stops talking (which proves to be an ironic worry). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RACHEL BARTON PINE-Tiny Desk Concert #555 (August 5, 2016).

I’ll let the blurb do the introduction:

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine began playing Bach in church at age 4. Ever since, she’s been mastering and re-mastering Bach’s set of six Sonatas and Partitas—more than two hours of solo violin music that looms like a proverbial Mount Everest for any serious fiddler. The trick is getting the details down. Bach left us with the notes but not much else. Pine recently analyzed every measure of these works, and prepared a new edition of the music with her own dynamic markings, phrasing indications, bowings and fingerings.

For this performance, Pine chose three contrasting movements from the set and plays them on her Guarneri del Gesu violin, which was built in 1742 — eight years before Bach died. She highlights the spirit of the dance in the “Tempo di Borea” (a Bourée from the First Partita). She unfolds a serene melody, just lightly accompanied, in the “Largo” (from the Third Sonata), and she closes with the intertwining “Fuga” (from the First Sonata), which sounds like three violinists in deep discussion.

And the music is gorgeous (Bach is truly sublime) and Pine’s violin playing is stunning.

She plays three pieces:

  • J.S. Bach: “Tempo di Borea” (from Partita No. 1)
  • J.S. Bach: “Largo” (from Sonata No. 3)
  • J.S. Bach: “Fuga” (from Sonata No. 1)

The first she describes as dance music.  She says that even though this was not created for the dance, you can sense the implicit choreography.

She describes the second piece as the sorbet course in between the exciting stuff.  It is in the key of F major, which historically is an intimate key.  This piece is calm and peaceful with the sparest of accompaniments.

For the final piece she says she will finish by playing the most complex of violin pieces.  Bach wrote it as a fugue for solo instrument.  She describes a fugue as a musical pattern that the voices toss around in conversation with each other.  So this little four string violin sounds like a full string ensemble.  And it absolutely does.  The opening melody is followed by the same melody on a lower string (while the first string is playing something else at the same time).  And then that riff is continued on the next string while the other two continue.  It is amazing.  And then near the end, she plays some incredibly fast dervishes of flying fingers and that crescendo is not even the end.

You might say that Bach was cruel, except it sounds so amazing, it’s worth it.

[READ: June 13, 2016] Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians

Librarians don’t really like when librarians are portrayed as villainous–unless they are done well.  And these librarians are pretty evil.

I enjoyed how this book also started out with a short clip of Lunch Lady stopping some bad guys before we even get to the story proper.

This book sees the Breakfast Bunch split between wanting to play video games (Hector is excited about the new X-Station 5000) while Dee is excited for the Read-a-thon contest.  Of course when they go to check out the Book Fair, the librarians insist that it starts tomorrow, not today.

Things seems calm and quiet for Lunch Lady.  In the meantime, Betty has come up with a new gadget: taco-vision night goggles. (more…)

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