Pop music notes (8/2009)

August 25th, 2009  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

I enjoy Rodrigo y Gabriela‘s classical guitar cover of Metallica’s instrumental “Orion” (get the cd or mp3 from far more than I should admit. I will resist the temptation to point out how extensively mid-period Metallica and similar artists have borrowed the melodic and vertical materials of flamenco and just note that — except for some ill-advised signal processing during the bridge (on the recording, that is, not in the live video) — this song is wholly entertaining.

Scarlatti eruption

August 7th, 2009  |  Tags: , , ,  |  2 Comments

Keyboardist Enrico Baiano is apparently known for flexible tempi and unconventional interpretations. His live recording of Scarlatti’s sonata K.119 at the 2007 Scarlatti Music Festival in Japan (iTunes link; it is not in print on physical media as far as I can tell) is pretty over-the-top, in a great way. K.119 is one of Scarlatti’s more guitaristic works, and Baiano’s performance dramatically accentuates this element, presenting Scarlatti as a sort of proto-Romantic, Iberian Eddie Van Halen. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard in a while.

I’ve attached a video of a slightly less incendiary Baiano performance of this piece; it, too, is excellent.


June 25th, 2009  |  Tags: , , , , ,  |  Leave a comment

One of the finest achievements of western art is Bach’s d minor Partita for solo violin (BWV 1004); in particular, the Chaconne is technically dazzling, emotionally loaded, and sublime. (For a fun middlebrow musicological excursus on the piece and its relation to German chorales, check out the Hilliard Ensemble’s amazing Morimur album — but be sure to get it on a physical disc; the liner notes explain the project and are spectacular.)

Below are a few beats of Antonio Sinopoli’s guitar transcription of the Chaconne. Unlike Segovia’s famous and idiosyncratic arrangement, Sinopoli eschews scordatura and transposes to e minor; he is otherwise far more faithful to the original. The score I have was published by Ricordi Buenos Aires; it identifies the piece as “Chacona” and the author as “Juan S. Bach” (!)


RIYL: Music for the rest of your life.