Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Piazzolla, it takes one to tango

The tango, and the related milonga, are never far away in the compositions of Argentine's Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), with Villa-Lobos and Ginastera the most important composer of South America. His intriguing mixture of the ancient and almost banal dance forms with jazz and classical elements makes for a completely unique personal sound. The Naxos CD I selected to introduce him combines three varying and interesting compositions by this still undervalued composer. The early Sinfonia Buenos Aires in three movements caused a stir with its use of tango melodies, but it did win him a scholarship to study in France. The Four Seasons is a tango cycle orchestrated by Leonid Desyatnikov - its theme and setting (violin and orchestra) make a comparison with Vivaldi logical if not quite valid. As good as these compositions are, the main gem on this record, and possibly the best composition in his oeuvre, is his fascinating concerto for bandoneon and orchestra - demonstrating that the composer himself was a virtuoso on this unusual instrument. Excellent performances by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra under Giancarlo Guerrero, with soloists Daniel Binelli (bandoneon) and Tianwa Yang (violin). If your collection only allows one Piazzolla disc, make it this one. But he is well worth exploring beyond that.

Amazon

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Beethoven symphonies cycle Haitink

A beautiful choice for the cover of the box with all nine Beethoven symphonies in live rendition by the London Symphony Orchestra under Bernard Haitink. Like the covers of the infividual CD's, this cover is based on body parts photography of Gautier Deblonde, complemented with simple but effective fonts for the title information - and of course that excellent LSO symbol that I have blogged about before here.

All Music

Thursday, August 25, 2011

LeumasPipes

The art installation is very interesting by itself, but converting it to a photograph, with the helpful addition of a lone figure to provide interaction and a sense of scale, really makes it work. The ominous sky as background is a clear bonus. A fairly recent gem by my Flickr friend auribins.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ye Olde Shanghai

Inspired by the photographic art of Martin Becks (blogged here), my own attempt at creating a surreal landscape by making a modern architecture shot look ancient. I took this shot of the Shanghai Pudong skyline earlier this year, and applied some rigorous post-processing in Picasa (black and white conversion, high contrast) and Picnik (Holga effect), topped off with a texture taken from the stream of fellow Flickrite SkeletalMess. I like the result - and so do a lot of other people, based on comments and faves.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/400)
Aperture: f/11.0
Focal Length: 18 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0, Picnik, texture

Flickr

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reich bows to protest of 9/11 CD cover art

A story which surprised me personally. Composer Steve Reich had selected one of the iconic images of the 9/11 attack for the cover of his composition WTC 9/11, a piece about the process of dealing with tragedy: the way people gradually work the overwhelming reality of what happened to them on that day into a story that can be told and made their own. Fitting though it may seem to many, it caused an uproar and Reich decided to have it changed. The full story, including thoughtful comments by the writer Anne Midgette in the link. Recommended.

web site

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Links [9]

Once more an overview of interesting links on topics related to the blog, that I encountered recently (some undoubtedly via a Jenny Downing buzz), but that will probably not make the blog as separate entries. The picture above is by myself.

Amazing Long-Exposure Photographs.
People Looking at Art.
Pulitzer Winning Imаgеs оf thе Last 30 Years.
History of Graffiti.
101 Awesome Examples Of Aerial Photography.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Out of sync

Another brilliant effort by my Flickr friend sannesu, posted at Flickr a few weeks ago. I love this photograph. The light effects, the bokeh, and the contrasting shapes - it all comes together.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Learn composition by example: the S-curve

If you have been following this blog, you may remember a series of short posts about basic composition techniques in the Art-iculations category. These were written for beginners by a beginner (moi). My Flickr friend Rick (word artist), a very accomplished photographer with a brilliant sense of composition, has embarked upon a similar series for the Flickr group Learn Composition by Example, providing far more information and examples than I did. His first seven posts, on leading lines, on layers, on borders, on framing, on triangles, on anchoring, and on negative space, were blogged earlier herehere, here, herehere, here and here. His eighth post appeared last weekend, tackling the subject of the S-curve as a compositional technique, with 19 photographs as illustration of his points (also to be found in his blog), ranging as usual from the most basic to the advanced very subtle uses. For this topic I have picked a shot by my Flickr friend andy57 (A dancer's pose), which Rick commented on as follows: "Another example of how the malleability of the human form can create strong S-curves, this image would be very appealing with only the diagonal of leg through torso. But the addition of the crooked leg adds a second dimension, allowing us to explore the width as well. Indeed, so strong is it that the straight leg is relegated to an leading line anchor and the dynamic of the image is that strong, sharp S-form." Like the others in this series, highly recommended to expand your compositional horizon.

web site

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leuchtturm

World-wide, German singer Nena is only known for her smash hit 99 Luftballons (99 red balloons), but in Germany she scored plenty of top 10 hits. One of her best singles is Leuchtturm (Lighthouse), which also has an excellent cover - very minimalist, emphasizing the beauty of the singer (Gabriele Susanne Kerner). More about Nena on the linked wikipedia page.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why do we hate contemporary classical music?

The linked article by Alex Ross in the Guardian of November last year is a good introduction on this subject, which draws more heated discussion between classical music lovers than any other. This is witnessed once more in the widely varying comments this article received. Personally I prefer to explore this subset of classical music as I do all others: with interest and an open mind, saving the gems and discarding the parts I do not like. Well worth reading.

web site

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Prometheus

This gem really has to be seen large (please click the link for that option) to fully appreciate its beauty. A fascinating study of dof, combined with a fabulous colours scheme. One of the best in the excellent stream of my Flickr friend jenny downing.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Alfven, Sweden's strongest symphonist

When I featured Stenhammar in this series one and a half year ago, I gave him the title Sweden's symphonist, and mentioned that he was the best of the two main Swedish composers (the other being Berwald). Late last year, I got hold of a CD box with the five symphonies by Hugo Alfven (1872-1960), and I rank him now as the best Swedish composer of all time, and certainly the best symphonist. I particularly like the massive 50 minutes fourth symphony from 1922 ("From the Outermost Skerries"), with its wordless cantilenas by tenor and soprano, a real masterpiece that should be heard by anybody interested in late romantic music. My Naxos recommendation for this composer is said symphony, coupled with the Festival overture. The performance by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra under Niklas Willen with Arndis Halla and Johann Valdimarsson is exemplary, as is the sound quality. Highly recommended - this is a name that should feature in any good classical music CD collection.

Amazon

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Bubble

The last few months I have been spending less and less time on Flickr - and one of the consequences is that my blog's category Flickr favourites is also less used than in the past. A case in point: this is one of the last 8 shots I faved and that was actually four weeks ago.... A brilliant example of how a tilt/shift lens can turn an ordinary New York Central Park scene into something magical. Courtecy of my Flickr friend aftab.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Friday, August 05, 2011

Memento mori

One of my favourite shots of the last few months. It is a grave inside a church in Medemblik. Thanks to the diagonal composition, it effectively creates a diptych symbolizing life and death.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.067 sec (1/15)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 78 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Argus

Thanks to my Flickr friend andy57 who reminded me of this gem by posting a photograph resembling it. This Wishbone Ash cover from 1972 is an absolute classic - as is the album. The design was an early effort by the famous Hipgnosis group, who were also responsible for many Pink Floyd, ELO, ELP and 10CC albums .

All Music