The End of a Sem

I’ve failed, and am still failing, to categorise my posts. Least because I tend to cram everything that could be crammed into one posts that even tags fail me.

So on to business.

Thanks to some inspiration from Xaerenh, Edna Millay and Wordsworth I decided to start practising writing sonnets.
Thanks to my idiocy in assuming that only the rhyme scheme was important I ended up with 14 syllables per line instead of iambic pentameter. This makes it follow a limbic bakersdozenmeter.
To rectify my faux pas the last 2 lines were written in (hopefully iambic) pentameter.

The Wit That Writ 1 ( also known as: I need a better title)

The hand follows the mind and the mind follows the heart
Upon the setting of the sun the stars snatch back the reins
Uncertainty dissolves at once on releasing of the dart
Yet hesitates a moment on the sound of distant strains
The end of fear – a human born from ashes, grows apart
Where snow’s a friend – a frigid cousin of tropical rains
Elysium but the carvings of the cunning and the smart
On papyrus and canvas – but a smear of naive stains

So once upon a time the stick, the quill, the fountain pen
Submitted, bent all crooked, to the muses, iron-willed
Who drew all that was fresh and pure from Earth’s most precious fen
Discarding as they went – ruthlessly – ignorance distilled

Yet they know best that every written plea
Will die – all stars must fade eventually


Concert Review: Conservatory Chamber Series – Strings
25 Nov 2011 @ YST Concert Hall

This was actually scrawled down on the pioneering-booklet-form programme after I decided to be an annoying enough prick to scribble out loud in the middle of a (largely empty) concert (hall). Incidentally, it was done not more than an hour of my reading and reciting drugs for diabetes for Pharmacology 2 on the circle line MRT like the mad scientist that I actually am.

Apparently this month’s theme is “love”.

Bolded and individual comments were mostly recorded on the performance night itself.


Smetana – String Quartet No.1 in E minor: I. Allegro vivo Appassionato

Yay my favourite. Hopefully every violist’s favourite.

Charged & energetic take, with a momentum that however left little space for rubato (transition into the development and lyrical sections). In a stream, there a rapids and there are pools. A stream with only rapids is exciting to watch but difficult to ford. (note: I really wrote that, don’t ask me why)

Slight coordination slips may have been due to nerves, being the 1st group of the night.

V1: Lead more, and be able to slow down
V2: Playing the 2nd violin =/= playing 2nd fiddle
Vla: Fiery take on the solo
Cello: Needs to maintain intensity (note: for the only guy in the quartet, being the least manly sounding of the group was amusing hehe)

The performance was exciting, unrelenting, like the flow of the stream-image I associate with this movement, yet there was no abating to the flow. It may have been an intended interpretation, and would have been successful at that, yet in this case the exacerbated difficulty of ensemble reared its ugly head. The opening chord and key changes proved to be tough on the tuning, with the (more technically difficult) running passages doing much better in this aspect.

P.S. The opening chord is actually rather devilish, from what I can hear on youtube and personal experience.

Mendelssohn – String Quartet in D major: III. Andante espressivo ma con moto

Jon Lee’s quartet! I heard the recording a few times at home, but it didn’t really stick in my head. Mendelssohn did the pseudo-basso-continuo thing in this moment as well with a pulse running through the whole piece, like in one of the movements in his 4th symphony “Italian” (of which I’m lazy to check)

Good ensemble and tone with great individual intensity not usually associated with “Mendelssohnian” music. Would have been greatly augmented by greater detail and tempo control in phrasing.

This group apparently played better during rehearsal, and indeed there were some problems in intonation and blending. Accuracy and tone were good otherwise. The players seemed quite upset overall though.

V1: Passionate but needs to know when to slow down – like in the 1st group
V2: Steely and clear articulation, could be slightly more assertive with such a strong sense of the music. Good coordination.
Vla: Apparently had some issues with notes and intonation. Made the most visible effort in shaping the mood, phrasing and ensemble and overall good tone.
Cello: The A string sounded flat, but overall good tone and phrasing.

Again, it seemed that nerves got the better of the  music, restricting the phrases by holding the tempo hostage. The forward drive seemed dangerous at times. Ensemble and tone was overall great if a little overshadowed by nerves and possibly a change in tuning of strings by the temperature difference between the backstage and hall.

Beethoven – Piano Trio in C minor: I. Allegro con brio

The most well blended ensemble however did so at the expense of a certain degree of individuality. Direction and phrasing was clear, and would be well served by assertion of personality.

Looks like I can never be satisfied. Interestingly enough, the V1 was waiting for the pianist and even gave him a “you first” gesture before the pre-performance bowing. Not a very positive image for a concert hall stage scenario – but I look past that. Ironically (and poetically so) the V1 turned out to be a genius at tone production an control in the Beethoven-ian styles, holding the line with a lyrical tone that oldschool types like myself crave.

V1: Entrance more imposing – Great tone control. Keep concentration (slips at random “simple” places)
Cello: Blended very well (this is more of a compliment than it seems)
Piano: Slightly more crisp tone on running notes (would have served the  acoustics of the hall much, much better)

Arensy – Piano Trio in D Minor:
I. Allegro moderato
II. Scherzo – Allegro molto 

Clarity, direction, purity of tone and excellent understanding of the style led to a performace that held the audience rapt at attention for the longer-than-average performance (of the night).

A great curtain closer before the intermission. The visiting quartet were wolf-whistling.

V1: A little tense in his sitting position but it didn’t really matter. Great tone and a superlative performance
Cello: The instrument seemed to be buzzing and may have affected the tone and the dynamic range. Again, it didn’t really matter in the overall presentation of the performance. Some audience members noted her flamboyant dress but were promptly silenced by the music.
Piano:  Clarity of tone travelled all the way to the back of the hall.

There are times when you hear something and stop all that you are doing (in this case, scribbling) and become compelled to watch at full attention for the rest of the duration of the performance. Unfortunately, I resumed writing somewhere in the middle after the 1st movement ended.

Dvorak – String Quartet No.10 in E-flat Major: I. Allegro ma non troppo

I felt this was more impressive than it appeared, due to the incredible blending and shaping (with a tad narrow dynamic range, but I don’t know the piece well anyway).

Excellent ensemble & blending. Could bring out contrapuntal textures. Quartet sounded very organic and understood each other well.

V1: Naturally dark violin needs care on the highest notes. (there were some squeaks on the E string)
V2: Contrapuntal textures can be brought out
Vla: Great tone, some clarity problems due to instrument/strings? (or perhaps articulation?)
Cello: Great control over phrasing and tone

Tchaikovsky – String Quartet No.3 in E-flat minor: II. Allegretto vivo e scherzando

Great synchronicity of articulation and dynamics.

Note: From here on I stopped writing since I just wanted to listen to the great performances.

Ravel – String Quartet in F major (2 groups played 1 movement each)
I. Allegro moderato – Très doux
IV. Vif et agité 

1st mvt: A very smooth rendition, with the 1st violin taking a very coy portamento up to the highest notes that was at once remarkable and apt. The individual lines of each part were also very well maintained and characterised.

4th mvt: The great curtain closer. Fiery, charged and deserving of the last spot in the programme.


Epilogue: I’ll add the update later this week seeing as how long this post already is. So Ciao!


About jfkwt

A little person on a little island in a little planet

Posted on November 29, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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