Thursday, February 28, 2013

Welcome to my blog about classical music (and environmental issues and...)

That's how I tried to sum up my blog at the Hocoblogs party a couple of nights ago. When I started the blog, I assigned myself a classical music, mostly opera, agenda, but as time passed I clearly wanted a chance to harp on other issues, too. I also enjoy and post about gardening, cats, movies and books.

I slipped out early from the party at Union Jack's, but I'm glad I had a chance to meet our local blog network in person. I'll try to stay longer at the next party!

The photo: It's a running theme, the same view of Lake Kittamaqundi as it appears at different times of the year in different conditions. I also want to document how it changes under other influences, which brings up an environmental issue now. You see the taller, darker tree towards the right edge of the photo? That was the bald eagle's perch featured in a recent post here. I'm afraid the tree is an ash -- looking at one of the first photos I took of this view last summer, I see that its leaf cover is very poor, like that of ash trees recently cut down around Columbia and Howard County. An insect called the emerald ash borer is killing the county's numerous ashes, and the county must cut them down and remove them as they deteriorate. So sooner or later, that distinctive tree in this view of the lake must disappear.

We'll also see how things change as a proposed multi-use path eventually encircles the lake. At present, a paved path goes around only the southern half, then you're roughing it on a dirt, sometimes mud, path if you want to walk all the way around the lake.

Another development in this view: Those white scars visible on the far bank are sand or sediment deposited when Hurricane Sandy blew by last year and caused the nearby Little Patuxent River to burst its banks and cascade into the lake.

For my classical music agenda: If life has a soundtrack, perhaps Smetana's dramatic tone poem depicting the course of the Moldau River from its source to its mouth is appropriate here. If you want to find a recording, the German title is "Die Moldau" and the Czech title is "Vltava". It's part of a cycle of tone poems by Smetana called "Ma Vlast", or "My Fatherland". I have the Naxos recording of an excellent performance of the cycle by conductor Antoni Wit and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Added later: Here's a shot of my view towards the north end of the lake without wide-angle and with a couple of human figures in the frame.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hocoblogs and Squirrels

Gracey is very excited about her new squirrel feeder -- almost as excited as I am about going to my first Hocoblogs Party tomorrow evening (Feb. 26) at Union Jack's. (Well, maybe it's the other way around: I'm almost as excited as Gracey, who can get rather worked up over those squirrels.) I'm officially registered now, so I look forward to meeting the Howard County blogging network -- bloggers and readers -- in person. ...Links:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hocoblogs and Stormwater Playlist

I just had dinner for the first time at Union Jack's in Columbia Town Center and hope to be back there for the Hocoblogs party on February 26. See the details on (also linked in my blog margin). I started to register on the Eventbrite page, but I really hate filling out forms on the Internet. So I hope I can be a walk-in at the party, and I look forward to meeting other bloggers and readers in the Hocoblogs network.

Stormwater run-off management is an issue now getting more attention in Columbia and Howard County. The county is preparing to levy a stormwater fee and encourage residents to landscape and garden with run-off control in mind. My condominium and my own unit have some serious run-off problems, and I've been working on a rain garden in my back patio area. There's a big meeting addressing this issue at Slayton House in Wilde Lake tomorrow evening.

So this is a classical music blog, and I have to lead into one of my regular playlists here. For the classical music blog network, some recordings that have been on my CD player lately....

~ While browsing the collection last night, my fingers stumbled on DG's remasters of conductor Hans Rosbaud's eclectic recording legacy. I listened to the disc of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 and two Haydn symphonies (the Oxford and the London). Other discs in the set cover Beethoven, Boris Blacher, Stravinsky and a whole disc of Sibelius.

~ More Arensky and Taneyev, mainly the symphonies by these two contemporaries and students of Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky. Chandos recordings. They might make us think about what makes those better known composers geniuses, but there are gems in the music of the minor Russian composers. I have to revisit Arensky's lovely Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky, which celebrate the poignant melody of Tchaikovsky's song dealing with the Legend of the rose. However, on revisiting the recording of Boris Christoff singing this song, I'm afraid there might be some 19th century Jewish-Christian religious conflict mixed into the Russian lyrics.

~ Daniele Gatti's survey of Tchaikovsky's Symphonies 4, 5 and 6 with selected shorter orchestral works on each disc. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Harmonia Mundi. (The Romeo and Juliette Overture has been ringing in my ears since I listened to the performance in this set.)

~ Coincidentally, soon after buying the Gatti and RPO Tchaikovsky set, I happened to pull out the EMI remaster of Sir Thomas Beecham and the RPO playing French ballet music.

~ The Phantasm viol ensemble's new recording of the complete viol consort music of William Byrd. Absorbing and very relaxing, whether one is concentrating on the music or playing the disc for background. Obligatory companion to Phantasm's earlier disc of music by Orlando Gibbons.

///Unlabeled photos in my posts are usually snapshots taken in the environs of Lake Kittamaqundi here in Columbia Town Center.///

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Bald Eagle Surveys Our Lake Work

Yesterday afternoon at Lake Kittamaqundi: Trying out the zoom on a secondhand camera, I trained it on what I thought was a large vulture in a tree on the other side of the lake. The distinctive white head of a mature bald eagle came into view, and I stood there for about 10 minutes snapping shots and trying to keep the subject in frame until it flew away beyond the north end of the lake. Bald eagles have been seen around this lake before, and you will find better images on the net, but this was my first time spotting one here.

In spite of utility work, dredging, construction and repairs happening around the lake, it's been too easy to point the camera in certain directions to present a virtual wilderness paradise. Here's what our eagle visitor might have seen if it was looking towards the Lakefront yesterday. Clyde's and the affiliated Tomato Palace next door have begun remodeling; docks are undergoing repairs.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

moody merganser scene...

More snapshots of Lake Kittamaqundi. Thawing spots in the ice last weekend provided some interesting scenery, and there's one shot of some entertainment I arranged for my cat...As usual, you can click on the photos for a larger view and slide presentation...