Old folk at lunch

Sunday, April 19, 2009

De rerum novarum



Sorry to misappropriate the name of a Papal encyclical for my heading above but today WAS a day of new things for me. We had our Westside classical music gathering tonight and one of the performers brought along a real live Basset Horn and played it. Mozart is the only composer who wrote much for the Basset Horn and it fell into disuse soon thereafter -- so very few people even had much idea of what it was until recently. Someone found some originals in an old castle somewhere, though, and it has now been revived -- with fingering the same as for a clarinet. It was the first time I had seen one. It looks like a small sax but has a surprisingly bass range. The guy who bought it along is a clarinettist and he played us some Mozart on it.

The second surprise was that we had a young composer among us who played us some of his music. That would normally be a trigger for some big groans but this guy was surprisingly good. I actually enjoyed some recently-written music tonight! His conventions were of the 19th century, however -- not the raucous screeching that usually passes for modern music. One hopes that the agonized substitute for music that characterized the 20th century died with that century. I speak of MOST 20th century music however. Exceptions like Philip Glass and Joaquin Rodrigo were of course brilliant.

And the third but much more minor surprise was that our usual Asian contingent comprised this time a violinist and a cellist. A Jewish violinist and an Chinese pianist would be our more usual pattern.

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