Friday Random Ten, Sept 29

Sep 29 2006 Published by under Music

1. **Steven Reich, "Explanations Come To An End Somewhere"**: one movement from one of Steven Reich's recent works, the "You Are" variations. I think it's some of the best stuff he's ever written.
2. **Fiddlers Four, "Pickin' the Devil's Eye"**. Another Darol Anger project, and as usual, it's very cool. This is basic old-time country fiddling, full of energy and fire.
3. **Seamus Egan, "To An Old Rose"**. Seamus Egan is a brilliant Irish musician; he's one of the finest Irish flutists in the world, and he also plays tenor guitar, regular guitar, banjo, keyboards, lap steel, and who knows what else. This is a tenor guitar waltz, very mellow, very beautiful.
4. **Hamster Theatre, "La Sacre D'Merde"**. Strange but brilliant band. They're a Rock-in-Opposition spinoff of Thinking Plague with very heavy early music influences. I also love their titles... "La Sacre D'Merde" is basically "The Rite of Shit"; the title of the album is "The Public Execution of Mr. Personality".
5. **Rachel's, "Old Road"**. "Rachel's" is another of those post-rock ensembles that I'm so wild about. They're a very classical one; the closest comparison would be to the Clogs, by Rachel's is *better*. In fact, they're by far the best of the PREs that I've found so far. There just aren't words for this kind of music, it's too good. And I discovered them entirely by accident! I was looking for something else, and just happened to notice this thing tagged "PRE".
6. **Dirty Three, "Stellar"**. Yes, more post-rock. Dirty Three is wonderful.
7. **John Corigliano, "Elegy", 2nd movement of the Clarinet Concerto .** Corigliano is one of the finest composers in the world today. As a clarinetist, I'm particularly enamoured of his clarinet concerto. This is played by Stanley Drucker. I used to think that Drucker wasn't such a great clarinetist, based on his recordings of Mozart and Weber's concertos. This recording completely changed my mind; Drucker is the very finest performer of modern compositions on the clarinet. It's obvious that he's just not as *interested* in the older stuff; the modern stuff is what he loves.
8. **The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra, "Galitzianer Chusud"**. There was also a piece from this group in last week's FRT. I'm particularly fond of this one, because my father is a Galtizianer. (Galitzianers are Jews from the Galicia region of what was Russia when they lived there. My mother's family are Litvak's (Latvians). The Litvaks and the Galitzianers were traditionally rivals; the old joke among Litvaks is that if you're not careful, your children will grow up to marry a Galitzianer.)
9. **Rachel's, "And Keep Smiling"**. Two Rachel's tracks in one FRT! Hurrah!
10. **Psychograss, "Stroll of the Mudbug"**. Psychograss is yet another Darol Anger project, also featuring my former banjo teacher, Tony Trischka, not to mention David Grier, Mike Marshall, and Todd Phillips. A group of musicians with more skill than this gang is damned hard to find, and they have a *great* chemistry as a group. It's newgrass with a good bit of jazz.

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  • Blake Stacey says:

    I know several people for whom the phrase "the best stuff [Steven Reich] has ever written" would be damning with faint praise. (-;

  • Albert says:

    "damning with faint praise"
    You know, I can totally understand that. I think it's more fairly applied to Philip Glass, but still I get it. Personally, I am a Reich devotee (although I've met him and he was an asshole, but I doubt I would have cared much for Beethoven either), but over the years I've run into much opposition to my praise for his music. Although I do have a degree in music theory/composition, I have to admit that justifying my admiration for his music has grown tiresome. I just like it. It is useful to know why you like something, but it doesn't always add significantly to your enjoyment of it. To this end I must say that such "faint praise" is par for the course for the fans of much modern and contemporary music. Surely the music of Steve Reich is, at worst, unmistakably his. Still, if someone doesn't like his music then that's perfectly fine. He didn't write it for them.