Sunday, January 25, 2009

miscellany musical and literary (and support your local fuel fund)

It's getting colder again and snow might be on the way and more people are having money problems. I've been working on blocking up the worst draughts in the house while thinking of news we sometimes hear concerning house fires caused by candles and other means taken when some people can't afford electricity and heating. My utility bill comes with a separate contribution envelope for the Fuel Fund of Maryland, so I responded with a check.

~Another Arts Blog~
Found via Ionarts, another local arts blog: The Dressing, whose author did make it to Hydrogen Jukebox. I have to wait until I can get to a better computer before adding to my blog roll.

~Browsing at Borders Books~
Maybe I was in the wrong book store, but I browsed in the Columbia Borders last night and could not find any books by Robert Benchley (grandson Peter Benchley was represented on the shelves), and some notable large anthologies of poetry did not include Dorothy Parker. There was a paperback volume of her complete short stories, but I'm going to see first what I can find by her in collections I already have. Borders' in-store computers show that I can order plenty of Benchley's essay collections. (My last post was about the related movie, "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle".)

I'm hungrily watching Borders' short story anthology section for the next little volume in what seems to be a new series by the Everyman's Library publishing company. Short on additional notes by editors, long on great short fiction ranging from classic to more modern authors, they're compact books with beautiful bindings and coordinated dust covers that will look really fine shelved together. So far, I have "Ghost Stories", "Christmas Stories" and "Love Stories". Vladimir Nabokov and Elizabeth Bowen have won representation in all three of these first installations in the series. "Christmas Stories" is not all Christmassy. It ends with a delicious dysfunctional holiday story by Richard Ford.

~Master Classes, Upcoming Concerts~
Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman is in Baltimore this weekend. He just gave a master class at Peabody, and apparently he is performing with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra today. (Alas, the BCO is another group affected by the current hard times.) Veteran singer and Peabody faculty member John Shirley-Quirk is giving a master class at Peabody later this week. (See the Peabody Institute calendar of events in my links for more information.)

I've read some good reviews of recent Baltimore Symphony concerts on Ionarts and Clef Notes. I still plan to go to the all-Russian program concert at the Meyerhoff this coming Saturday. There is also a recital by baritone Ryan de Ryke at An die Musik on Friday night. Of course, I'm choosing this recital out of many other events, classical and jazz, on An die Musik's busy calendar (also in my links list).

~Watching and Listening to a Favorite Movie~
Watched Polanski's "The Fearless Vampire Killers" for the 111th time this weekend. Christopher Komeda's score makes some interesting listening, varying from what sounds to me like 1960's pop-influenced vocal background music to the more eerie effects he achieves for scenes such as when the camera wanders over the weird portraits of the Krolock family. From extra features on the "Chinatown" DVD: Komeda was Polanski's favorite film music composer, and he would have employed him for that later movie if not for a tragic accident. There are a gay vampire and a Jewish vampire in the vampire tribe, with appropriate twists, but I wouldn't recommend the movie for your corporation's next diversity event. Love that scene where the Count first breaks into the inn with the snow and Komeda's deep strings swirling around him. Filmed (mostly?) in England's Shepperton Studios, but where is that fabulous Gothic pile of a castle?

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