Further services to music

Handel – Complete Sonatas for Wind Instruments (Camerata Köln).

CDs which I bought in the 1980s often had a fairly minimal amount of information about the music on them in comparison with what I consider to be currently adequate for MP3 files. Handel’s Complete Sonatas for Wind Instruments by Camerata Köln (1985) has been a long-standing example of such lackadaisical labelling, which I’ve gradually been correcting.

When I started trying to identify the pieces on the album, GFHandel.org had little more than a list of works by HWV number. More recently, the site has come to included lists of works by instrument, which allowed me to find some of the more recalcitrant pieces on the album, in particular the sonatas vaguely labelled “Fitzwilliam”.

Last night, after I found that the albums of Handel’s harpsichord suites had no HWV numbers (an easy matter to resolve), I decided to try and find the remaining catalogue numbers for the Complete Sonatas. Some information I got from the same pieces on other albums, but a few tracks continued to resist easy identification.

GFHandel.org did help to some extent, but the Sonata in G major was particularly puzzling until I discovered that it is now considered to be a violin sonata – HWV 358. Not far behind that was the mysterious Trio sonata in F major for 2 recorders and b.c.

That was the catalogue numbers sorted, but I also wanted the movements. Unlike most albums on which the movements are in separate tracks, the Complete Sonatas has one track per work.

Because I now know all the catalogue numbers, tracking down the movements for each piece was a fairly simple matter. As before, as a public service, here are the details. (01.05.14 Changed the table to a numbered list, and put the tracks in CD order.)

Disc 1

  1. Sonata in C major for recorder and b.c., Op. 1, No. 7 (HWV 365)
    1. Larghetto
    2. Allegro
    3. Larghetto
    4. A tempo di gavotte
    5. Allegro
  2. Sonata in G minor for oboe and b.c., Op. 1, No. 6 (HWV 364a)
    1. Larghetto
    2. Allegro
    3. Adagio
    4. Allegro
  3. Sonata in D major for transverse flute and b.c. (HWV 378)
    1. Adagio
    2. Allegro
    3. Adagio
    4. Allegro
  4. Sonata in G minor for recorder and b.c., Op. 1, No. 2 (HWV 360)
    1. Larghetto
    2. Andante
    3. Adagio
    4. Presto
  5. Sonata in C minor for oboe, Op. 1, No. 8 (HWV 366)
    1. Largo
    2. Allegro
    3. Adagio
    4. Bourée angloise. Allegro
  6. Sonata in D minor for recorder and b.c. (HWV 367a) (“Fitzwilliam”)
    1. Largo
    2. Vivace
    3. Furioso
    4. Adagio
    5. Alla breve
    6. […]
    7. A tempo di menuetto
  7. Sonata in G major for transverse flute, Op. 1, No. 5 (HWV 363b)
    1. Adagio
    2. Allegro
    3. Adagio
    4. Bourée
    5. Menuetto
  8. Sonata in G major for recorder (violin) and b.c. (HWV 358) (“Fitzwilliam”)
    1. Allegro
    2. Adagio
    3. Allegro

Disc 2

  1. Sonata in E minor for transverse flute, Op. 1, No. 1b (HWV 359b)
    1. Grave
    2. Allegro
    3. Adagio
    4. Allegro
  2. Sonata in A minor for recorder and b.c., Op. 1, No. 4 (HWV 362)
    1. Larghetto
    2. Allegro
    3. Adagio
    4. Allegro
  3. Sonata in B flat major for oboe and b.c. (HWV 357) (“Fitzwilliam”)
    1. [Andante]
    2. Grave
    3. Allegro
  4. Sonata in F major for recorder and b.c., Op. 1, No. 11 (HWV 369)
    1. Grave
    2. Allegro
    3. Alla Siciliana
    4. Allegro
  5. Trio in F major for 2 recorders and b.c. (HWV 405)
    1. Allegro
    2. Grave
    3. Allegro
  6. Sonata in B minor for transverse flute, Op. 1, No. 9 (HWV 367b)
    1. Largo
    2. Vivace
    3. Presto
    4. Adagio
    5. Alla breve
    6. Andante
    7. A tempo di menuetto
  7. Sonata for oboe and b.c. in G major, Op. 1, No. 5 (HWV 363b)
    1. Adagio
    2. Allegro
    3. Adagio
    4. Bourée
    5. Menuetto
  8. Sonata in B flat major for recorder and b.c. (HWV 377) (“Fitzwilliam”)
    1. […]
    2. Adagio
    3. Allegro

More and more beddy gooda!

The Bagman.

Robert de Niro tells John Cusack to go to a motel in the middle of nowhere, wait in Room 13, and not look in the bag which is in his care.

Cusack finds himself in Bizarro World, killing everyone from dodgy FBI agents to corrupt policemen to weird motel managers while acquiring some six-foot-tall Amazon as a sidekick.

The film ponders dully along, and eventually de Niro turns up and reveals the ghastly truth – he’s murdered Cusack’s girlfriend so that she won’t distract his most faithful employee. There’s a gunfight. Our heroes get US$5 million.

I think the film was meant to have been a black comedy, but it was all black and no comedy worth mentioning. It was dull. Even the exciting bits were dull. Why would the likes of John Cusack and Robert de Niro even bother with such a soggy celery stick of a film?


Ender’s Game.

Ender is a creepy, skinny 14-year-old child who looks like he escaped from the Boys from Brazil. Stick a toothbrush moustache on him and he’d be Hitler with blue eyes.

Instead of being a normal 14-year-old, he’s fast-tracked through the military to become High Commander of Earth’s forces as they prepare for a strike against some race of insects from another planet.

“It’s the final test,” says Han Solo. What was the final test? Actually destroying the alien planet and committing genocide. “Well done, Hitler. Sorry, Ender,” says Han Solo. “We’re promoting you to admiral even although you only arrived a couple of days ago and haven’t even reached puberty.”

Meanwhile, in cinemas across Japan… “Dude, this is like a total rip-off of Neongenesis or RahXephon.”

Ben Kingsley is apparently meant to be a Maori, although he has a South African accent.


Now You See Me.

A group of illusionists commit a series of robberies in the hope that they’ll gain admittance to an ancient guild of magicians.

The FBI and professional sceptic, Morgan Freeman, are after them, but always a step behind.

Ultimately, showy but shallow. The audience had no real reason to empathise with any of the characters or even care why the illusionists wanted to get into such an exclusive club.


The Wolverine.

Logan goes to Japan. There’s lots of fighting, ninjas, and a mecha made of adamantine.

Er, well… That’s it!


Kick-Ass 2.

Kick-Ass is back in an uncomfortable combination of gags and ultraviolence. This time, the Motherf_cker, who dresses in his mother’s bondage gear, wants to kill Kick-Ass in revenge for the death of his father (by bazooka) in the previous film, and recruits an army of wannabe supervillains to help him.

Kick-Ass teams up with a small group of superheroes, wishing that Hit Girl would join them. But her foster father has clipped her wings and she promises not to get involved.

Yes, of course she gets involved when Kick-Ass goes to confront his rival. There’s a fight. The Motherf_cker falls into a shark tank and gets eaten… by a shark.

Hit Girl decides she’s had enough of New York and rides off on her purple motorbike.

I need to watch the original film again, but this seemed to be a reasonable sequel to that even if the novelty is no longer there. The tone did feel inconsistent with the violence being cartoony on some occasions, and nasty and vicious on the other, The Motherf_cker was a sad specimen where Kick-Ass really needed his archenemy to have a proven record of evil behind him.

Beddy, beddy, beddy, beddy gooda!

Preface.

Having missed a bunch of films of late, I thought it was about time to catch up with Hollywood’s latest quality cinematic offerings. I don’t like going to my local DVD shop because DVD先生 insists that everything he has in stock is “Beddy, beddy, beddy etc. gooda”, which it never is. Quality cinema to him is a low budget, right-wing American epic with a lot of guns. He seems to think that I must want to accept all of his ill-considered recommendations without question.


Seal team 8: Behind Enemy Lines.

Lex Shrapnel (no, really) leads a mission to rescue a CIA agent who has been captured by a Congolese warlord. As the audience instantly realises, the secret agent is the real villain and the Americans find themselves in deep, deep doo-doo. Basically, it’s a long cutscene from a video game.

DVD先生 gives this a 5-beddy rating because this film requires no thinking. Mr Bamboo says, “Not fit to be used as a dog-turd scraper.”


Blue is the Warmest Colour.

This is the winner of a Palme d’Or from Cannes. Why did it win? Was it the excruciating length (three hours) and the general dullness of the film? Was it the rambling storyline? Was it the clichés about confused lesbians and inflexible relationships?

DVD先生 would probably give this a 3-beddy rating. Lesbians, good; rest boring. Mr Bamboo says, “Boring.”


The World’s End.

Gary King persuades all his old school mates to return to their hometown to do the Golden Mile, a pub crawl which they attempted but failed to complete after leaving school. During the course of their journey through the town, they find that almost everyone has been replaced by robots. King is determined to complete his quest at the end of which he tells the aliens to bugger off.

King is that stock character of British cinema, the annoying plonker who ploughs through everyone else’s lives without a second thought. Simon Pegg also gets a little too much screen time, it seems, as the rest of the cast merely orbit him like small asteroid-sized moons.

The film is obviously a satire on the uniformity of modern life. The pubs are all the same and people have been assimilated. Hot Fuzz dealt with a similar theme.

DVD先生 has no opinion. There are robots, and there is fighting, but there are no Americans and no right-wing subtext. Mr Bamboo says, “All right to a point, but might’ve been better if the tone was serious or poignant with, say, Gary King dying of something terminal at the end of the film.”


Lone Survivor.

Based on a real-life mission into Afghanistan to whack some Taliban commander, it goes pear-shaped almost immediately, and the four-man squad is pursued by the Taliban, which kills them one by one until one man is left. He falls into the hands of some Pashtun villagers who are honour-bound to protect him. The Taliban aren’t pleased and start an assault on the village just in time for the US military to arrive and see them off the premises.

DVD先生 prefers a 4-beddy rating. He likes all the guns and ammo, but isn’t so keen on the human dimension and the lack of super-soldiers. Mr Bamboo says, “More depth than the first offering, but really another American film for Americans which should’ve stayed in America.”

Burnt offerings 2014

The return of Qingming.

Nothing kills of the anticipation of a long weekend like a pile of exam papers, and once again this year, there are piles to be marked in the after­math of the mocks this week. I’m already a little ahead on the marking, having dispatched the A2s’ reading papers in a day, although that’s not quite the feat that it appears to be. I also made deep inroads into AS1’s reading, and that is a feat because there are five texts, and the paper is a bulky, clumsy thing to handle.

The exam this time has also been different because we included a writing paper. Normally, to spare ourselves a good deal of bother, we set some recent text type as the writing so that we can mark it beforehand. Although I like splitting things in this way, such exercises are only partial tests of the students’ ability to produce the text type correctly because they’re only dealing with a single type and don’t have to do it under exam conditions.

Although I told the classes to focus on the topics which we have covered in class (Health and Cultural Diversity), A2(2) mostly chose the Cultural Diversity topic or the Science and Technology one. The popularity of the latter was because the text type was blog/diary entry, which is no doubt regarded as an easy option because of its supposedly amorphous nature. A2(1&3) split themselves roughly evenly across four of the text types, but had the brains to avoid Leisure, which was a pamphlet giving advice and thus something akin to guidelines or instructions.

AS1 favoured the nature vs. nurture question about homosexuality; the blog entry reacting to newspaper reports alleging that Justin Bieber is gay; and the review topic (“review the film of the book”, meaning To Kill a Mockingbird; answers – anything but). The other two topics got a smatter­ing of attention.


A musical interlude.

When I saw that the exchange rate had improved in my favour, I went on a music-buying spree.

  1. Garden of Early Delights (Pamela Thorby and Andrew Lawrence-King; Linn Records) – this is an album of early Baroque music which includes some fairly familiar pieces (in fact, the only name I don’t know is Johann Schop), and combines the recorder with the harp.
  2. The Nightingale and the Butterfly (Pamela Thorby and Elizabeth Kenny; Linn Records) – Thorby unites with a lutenist on an album of French pieces from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This is mostly new music from composers who I have previously not heard of (e.g. Charles Dieupart, Louis Caix d’Hervelois) or who were only slightly known to me (e.g. Robert de Visée).
  3. Locatelli, Concerti Grossi, Op. 1 (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – I don’t often go to Hyperion because they charge VAT regardless of your point of origin, but the exchange rate was a little more benign than it has been. I had previously had a single example of Locatelli’s output prior to this and bought several albums all at once.
  4. Locatelli, L’Arte del Violino (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – This is Locatelli’s Op. 3, which is the composer showing off his technical skills with the violin. It is not, though, one of those works of this nature in which all sense of musical quality is abandoned in favour of some clever screechy sound which very few violinists – apart from Locatelli – could achieve.
  5. Locatelli’s Op. 4 (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – This is a combination of six Introduttioni Teatrali which, according to the accom­p­anying booklet, have an obscure history. The remaining six Concerti are just as obscure with no clear reason why they were included in this publication.
  6. Locatelli, 10 Sonatas Op. 8 (The Locatelli Trio; Hyperion Records) – Like Op. 4, this is a mixed bag, being a combination of ten violin and trio sonatas which, as the notes say, was contrary to the usual practice of six or twelve pieces of the same genre.
  7. Marin Marais, Pièces de Viole du Second Livre (Markku Luolajan-Mikkola et al.; BIS Records) – Having quite liked Marais’ Pièces de Caractère, I thought it was worth trying some more music from him and filling in a gap in my musical arsenal.
  8. Marin Marais, Pièces de Viole du Cinquième Livre (Wieland Kuijken et al.; Accent) – This album includes a piece which was inspired by the oper­ation in which Marais’ gallbladder was removed (Le Tableau de l’Oper­ation de la Taille). I was listening to the album when I heard what sound­ed like someone speaking French. I thought it was coming from outside, but it was commentary accompanying the music.
  9. Rameau, Pièces de clavecin en concerts (London Baroque; BIS Records) – This is an album of six concerts which are largely character pieces, although it’s often impossible to tell who in Rameau’s circle they refer to. The first concert is probably a tombeau, a genre of which the French seemed to be particularly fond. There is some overlap with Rameau, Complete Works for Harpsichord (Trevor Pinnock; crd).
  10. Italian Lute Music G.G. Kapsberger – A. Piccinini (Konrad Junghänal; Accent) – Lute music always gives me a sense of warm summer afternoons when the sun is setting, the light is just so, and the world is quiet and comfortable.
  11. Telemann, The twelve Fantasias for Transverse Flute without Bass (Bart­hold Kuijken; Accent) – This is another album in which “fantasia” has been misspelt in the file name. Probably it’s just a typo, but it smacks of a lack of attention.
  12. Telemann, Trios & Quartets (Epoca Barocca; CPO) – What is says on the box. Unfortunately, the accompanying booklet (an occasional inclusion from CPO) is cut off at the end of the first page of the German section, which means there. The CPO website is barely any more enlightening. This seems to be chamber music for the musically inclined burgers of Hamburg to bash out of an evening.
  13. Telemann, III Trietti metodichi e III Scherzi (Parnassi musici; CPO) – These are light pieces which Telemann published in 1731. The CPO website says they are “full of dancy swing”. CPO must’ve been on a budget because the cover for this album is the same as the cover of Telemann’s Complete Violin Concertos Vol. 4.
  14. Hotteterre, Complete Chamber Music Vol. 1 Suites Op. 2 (Camerata Köln; CPO) – This is a very recent release from CPO and marks the first in a series of four CDs from Camerata Köln. I haven’t listened to the album properly yet, but it is very chamber music in style.

My attempt to acquire Boismortier, Flute and Harpsichord Sonatas Op. 91 has been unsuccessful. I downloaded an album from Presto Classical, but what I got sounded late 18th century. I then had a listen to samples of the album on line, which confirmed that what I had was probably something by Haydn. I’m waiting for Presto Classical to let me know when the actual album will be ready for download.


The Sekkereterry of Stayte for Edgercayshun.

Last year when the PISA report came out, much was made of the results which showed that Asian school children were geniuses and British school children were barely able to hold a pencil without stabbing one other person (including themselves). As was observed at the time, the quality of life for Asian children is generally dreadful and, in the case of China, the results were based on children in Shanghai. Michael Gove wants GSCEs pegged to results in China and other successful economies from 2017.

As I’ve observed in the past, Chinese school children are good at anything a computer could do, but rarely good at anything else. Maths – tick that box; Physics – tick that box; Chemistry – tick with less certainty; Biology – don’t tick it at all because the language is beyond them. Arts and Humanities subjects? Not likely.

Even the dimmest students here can still do maths with a reasonable degree of competence, but only a few of them are capable of doing Further Maths according to the Head of the Maths Department at school. While they may be good at maths, that doesn’t make them intellectual giants. Anything requiring imagination and creativity is beyond all of them unless they’ve been taught some sort of procedure for mimicking something just as they are taught procedures for writing TOEFL and SAT essays.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Gove’s favourite sci-fi characters are the Borg from Star Trek and the Cybermen from Dr Who, both races of soulless cyborgs who can solve maths problems in the blink of an eye, but haven’t got a milligramme of creativity or joie de vivre among the lot of them. The man seems to want Borg school children rather than human beings.


Bloody China Mobile.

I’m regretting the recent switch to China Mobile. The latest wheeze is that all .co.uk websites have been blocked. I’d been on Presto Classical the other morning, but couldn’t get on it in the afternoon without Astrill. The same block (or, impediment) seemed to be affecting music sites in general, but I found, for example, that The Register was also out of bounds. .org.uk sites seemed to be partly affected. At school, which I assume goes through China Telecom, there were no problems with any of these sites. Great­fire.org claims no blocking, either. I suspect this may be some sort of filter­ing cockup. Something to do with a DNS update?


But at the end of the day…

I need to get on with some marking.