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Bill Baldwin
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Bill Baldwin

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If the Confederate flag should be removed from colleges (and it should), then Woodrow Wilson's name should be removed from Princeton University buildings and programs. How is this even a discussion?

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2015/11/20/9766896/woodrow-wilson-racist

Princeton's response is, yeah, but he did some good stuff too? So did Robert E. Lee. Weak sauce, guys. What's weak sauce for the goose is weak sauce for the gander.

He called black people "an ignorant and inferior race," and it gets worse.
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I'm not really a fan of erasing the past. What happened then happened then and there's a lot more to people than their racial beliefs.

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Bill Baldwin

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Very similar to the tune of "Three Little Maids" in The Mikado. Arthur Sullivan wrote that 15 years earlier. I wonder if Fučík was familiar with the piece.

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Wow! Just finished listening to all four movements. If you'd asked me what I wanted in a Beethoven's 7th, I don't think "raucous" and "rollicking" would have made the list--especially not for movement 2. But like all great interpreters, Brüggen is utterly convincing. I don't think I could listen to C. Kleiber (another favorite for this symphony) right now. He would just sound wrong. I don't mean to say Brüggen has spoiled me for other interpretations. Kleiber will sound right again tomorrow--a different sort of right. For now, I just want to bask.

This was joyous music-making. Every instrument was so clear, so perfectly balanced, and so obviously played by a performer committed to a shared vision. I've never heard a 7th with a stronger PULSE. Or if I have, it was probably too much and sounded forced. Here, Beethoven's forward-driving rhythms take center stage (or share it, perhaps) in a way that catches you up into the music. You can't help coming along for the ride.

I think that's why this performance succeeded for me in one way that others mostly don't. The symphony has never quite struck me as a WHOLE before. My youthful indolence and mercurial temperament from 30+ years ago probably exacerbated the problem. I was often too lazy to get up and flip the record over! And when I did get up, my mood had changed, so I put something else on. As a result, I became intimate with every nook and cranny of the first two movements. With the last two, I had a passing acquaintance. I didn't love them nearly as much. Perhaps I played them less because I loved them less. Perhaps vice versa. All I know is, they never quite seemed to flow out of the first two in that natural, inevitable way. They were always good music but also, if I was honest, a bit of a letdown.

Until today. Brüggen made me feel the pulse of the first two movements. He never let me forget it was there. Suddenly, the more obvious pulse of the final two sounded right and appropriate and necessary. The whole thing came together. Now that I've heard it, hopefully I won't be able to UNhear it. It will still be there for me when another conductor presents the case more subtly. Thanks, Frans. And bravo.
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Bill Baldwin

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So I took The Partisan Test at Vox.

http://www.vox.com/2015/12/7/9828120/partisan-test

It's supposed to ferret out unconscious preferences by measuring reaction times. As long as you try your best to work through the test quickly, it'll tell you where you micro-hesitated.

I finished the test with the feeling I was about to be outed as a closet Republican. But it turns out I'm a left-of-moderate Democrat. That designation (and the other possibilities in the continuum below) seems a little fishy to me. The test didn't gauge my position on issues, just whether I had more positive feelings associated with Dems than Republicans.

In any case, matches my own feeling about where I am on the political spectrum these days. And it suggests that the person who called me a "purebred Republican" was smoking some seriously good stuff.

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I am immutable
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Brilliant. This is the original 12/8 version. I have no idea how the 4/4 version became the default. I can't go back to it after hearing this.

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Zarathustra Unleashed! I've always loved this tone poem's bravura opening and lost interest as the piece developed. This is the first performance to keep my attention and persuade me that the composition is a musical whole, and a great one. I tend to think of Strauss as more structured and conservative and buttoned-down than his more "romantic" contemporaries. Maybe in part I've felt that way because other conductors have fed him to me that way. (A similar phenomenon happens with Ravel vs. Debussy or Stravinsky. I believe this even happened in Ravel's lifetime and he found it frustrating.) Tennstedt's Mahlerian/Brucknerian approach lets the music breathe and develop organically from one passage to the next. So much of this sounds like a portion of some missing Mahler symphony--bubbling then raucous then bombastic then sweet and gentle, all flowing from one to the next so that dividing the work into sections would be a destructive act or at best a temporary pedagogical expedient.
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