Day 315: Violin Concerto, Concerto for Violin, Cello & Orchestra

BrahmsCD9I’ll say one thing for Brahms: he loves to fill his compositions with lots of notes.

But not in a Mozartian way so that the compositions are still melodic and memorable.

They’re just busy.

Perhaps the word I’m looking for is jumbled.

In my opinion, Beethoven – my favorite Classical composer – used notes more judiciously, with lots of space for shading between the light and dark, the somber and joyful. More importantly, Beethoven had a tremendous knack for writing melodies that touched me deeply.

Brahms, on the other hand, seems to have a profound grasp of the instruments – sort of like how a potter works with clay – yet he lacks an awareness of how the instruments could be used to create an aural landscape so compelling one could not possibly turn away.

Art for art’s sake.

In other words, competence, perhaps even mastery, yet Continue reading

Day 193: Midnight in Paris

61WHnlZzQHLMidnight in Paris is a perfect movie, one I’ve watched dozens of times since it was released in 2011.

It is my second-favorite film by Woody Allen, second only to Annie Hall.

The Academy-Award winning script (Best Original Screenplay) is tight, witty, clever, and intelligent.

The casting is exceptional, although at first I couldn’t see Owen Wilson as Woody Allen, the stammering, gesturing writer looking for inspiration. He eventually grew on me.

Even the soundtrack is outstanding – so much so that I bought it as soon as it became available.

Midnight in Paris combines everything I love in a movie – including the kind of magic that could transport someone back in time…in this case, Paris in the 1920s, the city filled with ex-pats like Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Cole Porter. Other characters making an appearance are Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Matisse, Gauguin, Degas, and others.

The cast is remarkable:

Owen Wilson … Gil
Rachel McAdams … Inez
Kurt Fuller … John
Mimi Kennedy … Helen
Michael Sheen … Paul
Alison Pill … Zelda Fitzgerald
Tom Hiddleston … F. Scott Fitzgerald
Marion Cotillard … Adriana
Corey Stoll … Ernest Hemingway
Kathy Bates … Gertrude Stein
Adrien Brody … Salvador Dalí
Tom Cordier … Man Ray
Léa Seydoux … Gabrielle

Standout performances were turned in by Tom Hiddleston as Scott Fitzgerald, Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald, Corey Stoll as Hemingway (possibly the greatest performance in the film), Adrien Brody as Dali (the second best performance), and Marion Cotillard as Adriana, one of the sexiest woman ever to Continue reading