Saturday, October 10, 2015

Whiny Ass Cry-Adults

Yesterday I called Bill O'Reilly a "Whiny cry-baby" and someone pointed out that it was an insult to cry-babies.   Considering the article at Salon in which Alanna Weissman,  recent graduate of the Columbia GRADUATE(!) School of Journalism put her enormous Ivy-league grad-school level erudition together to tell the world she hated babies and that they had no right to hate her because she hated babies,  I wonder why whiny ass cry-adults couldn't be a thing.   I doubt that such a thing would have ever crossed my mind before going online and reading the unedited thinking of large numbers of WACAs expressing their inner spoiled-brats.  They seem to be everywhere.  I used to remember when we made fun of those PBS shows where people were taught to get in touch with their "inner child," little did we know that so many were totally in touch with them.  

I suppose I could mention that she's also an only-child, no doubt the apple of her "older parents'" eyes.  Only I've known only children who did grow up.    

Imagine, she had to go to Columbia Grad School to learn to write something like that.  

Mostly Mauro Giuliani - A Recital by Franco Fagioli and Pablo Gonzalez Jazey

I haven't listened to all of the songs in this playlist of  a recital consisting mostly of songs of the guitar composer and virtuoso Mauro Giuliani with, so far, one by Domenico Cimarosa arranged by Giuliani.  Pria Che Spunt'in Ciel from Il Matrionio Segreto, an opera I'm not at all familiar with.   I will listen to all of them. 

It was nice to stumble across something that sort of tied yesterday's post about Schubert sung to guitar with the previous posts about male sopranists, I hadn't looked for one. That an artist of Franco Fagioli's status went to the bother of presenting a whole recital of Giuliani songs supports the idea that he was a real composer, not just a specialist in studies for guitar.   He was close to many of the leading composers of the first decades of the 19th century, including Beethoven.   

You can find scores for all of the songs here, as well as just about all of his many compositions.  You'll notice that a lot of his pieces are based on opera, many variations and his sets of "Rossinianae" which are some of his most often played pieces, so it's no surprise he wrote some pretty good songs.  

Notice, too, that Fagioli still had hair back then and no beard. 

Hitler's Time Table Included Destroying Christianity As Certainly As It Did Judaism

On gaining power, Hitler, whilst most certainly not sharing Koch's belief, seems to have been concerned most of all about the potential power of the church in Germany – Catholic and Protestant – as an oppositional power-bloc to his ambitions rather than as a spiritual force.  For some years Hitler encouraged the placement of clergy who were out and out Nazis in senior positions within the Protestant church in Germany.  But by 1937 it was obvious to Hitler that the German Protestant church would never be as acquiescent as he desired, and his rhetoric – in private – grew more overtly anti-Christian.  And whilst in public Hilter was still ambiguous about where he stood in his relationship t Christian God , a number of other leading Nazis were outspoken in their dislike of Christianity.  Martin Bormann, who would become Hitler's secretary, Alfred Rosenberg, a leading party ideologue, and Heinrich Himmler, would all openly condemn Christianity.  Members of Himmler's SS were not allowed to say they did not believe in God, but equally they were not encouraged to say they worshiped a Christian God.  The preferred option was for them to proclaime that they were “gottgläubig” or “God believers”  - without any need to specify the exact nature of the God they believed in. 

As time when on, Hitler's true feelings about Crinstianity became ever more apparent within the Nazi elite.  “The Führer is a man totally attuned to antiquity,”  wrote Goebbels in his diary on 8 April 1941.  “He hates Christianity because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity.”  That same year, chatting to five of his cronies – including Ribbentrop and Rosenberg – Hitler said,  “The war will be over one day.  I shall then consider that my life's final task will be to solve the religious problem.”  Declaring that “Christianity is an invention of sick brains,' he said that “the concrete image of the Beyond that religion forces on me does not stand up to examination.”  Instead Hitler said, he dreamt “ of a state of affairs in which every man would know that he lives and dies for the preservation of the species.”

However, since Hitler knew that if he openly expressed such anti-religious views his own popularity might suffer, what he did was to mingle two justifications of his authority – a religious one and a scientific one – together.  On the one hand Hitler claimed legitimacy from “Providence,” which millions of German Christians could take to be their God, but on the other he also claimed that the fundamental laws of nature supported his beliefs – hence the dual views presented in Triumph of the Will of pseudo-religious iconography and the raw animal power of healthy young Nazis...

Hitler's Charisma: Leading Millions into the Abyss
Laurence Rees

What?  You think he told the truth to the German people?

Nazism was, in Hitler's view, applied science, a matter of Survival of the Fittest, something which the most conventional of science had been asserting as having the reliability of science since the 1860s.  If you want to get into that again, I've got lots of notes I never used in the previous two go-rounds and it could get really, really unpleasant.

Friday, October 9, 2015

If it's not wrong to hate children why isn't it all right to hate people who hate children

Schubert's Guitar

When I was looking for a recording of Schubert's song Nacht und Träume the other night I came across a version of it with the accompaniment played on guitar instead of piano.  

As a piano player I've got to admit it sounds as good as the song when accompanied by a modern piano, an instrumental sound that wouldn't have been as familiar to Schubert as a modern guitar.   On this song the really difficult task of playing quietly comes a lot easier to a guitarist.  Though a modern instrument sounds different enough from the guitar of Schubert's time as to make a different effect the difference isn't as drastic as between a piano of Schubert's time and a modern piano.   

From back in my college days I knew some of Schubert's pieces for male chorus had provided an alternate guitar accompaniment for some of them so I wondered if maybe he'd done the same for some of his solo songs.  Apparently a number of his songs were published with guitar accompaniment during Schubert's lifetime, some with a guitar accompaniment published BEFORE a version with piano was.    While there has been some assertion that Schubert didn't play guitar, the evidence is that he did, he is known to have owned one made by Johann Georg Staufer, one of the best guitar makers of the period.  It is preserve in the Schubert Museum. The description of the difference between Staufer's guitars and others given here is especially interesting in regard to Schubert's music.

Stauffer guitars were exceptional, as are the modern reproductions. There is no bracing on the top; it is a simple design with only a harmonic bar, but it works well, and the back is sloped somewhat like a violin. The sound is very different from the Spanish school, as is the construction. Spanish guitars have a slow response (particularly in the trebles). This means that during a split second, the sound starts softly, then grows in strengh and fades away more slowly after the string has been plucked. This is what contributes to the singing, mellow quality of the Spanish intruments. The Stauffer on the other hand is much quicker. The sound is immediate when the string is plucked; it speaks quickly. Therefore the Stauffer does not have the same singing quality, but this is not what the Austrians wanted (think romantic piano music, e.g. Beethoven.) They wanted an instrument that could play dramatic music, with a lot of expression. The basses are solid and deep to provide a foundation to your music. The Stauffer projects exceptionally well and many surviving originals as well as replicas are easily as loud as a modern classical guitar.

You can find youtubes of people playing original Staufer guitars.  

I doubt Schubert would have had a guitar if he didn't know how to play it. He lived a pretty modest, and somewhat homeless and all too short a life, depending on the kindness of friends.  I doubt he'd have kept an instrument he couldn't play but which he could have sold for much needed money.  I also know that he must have been familiar with the fret board layout of the guitar because it is the same as for the arpeggione, a bowed instrument invented by Staufer, is tuned like the guitar for which Schubert's one sonata is, beyond doubt, the most significant composition.  

As to the use of a guitar instead of a piano, apparently that was a common practice in Vienna which Schubert certainly was aware of,  I'm unaware of any instance in which he expressed an objection to it.   Even if he didn't make those arrangements he knew others did.  There is some indication that it was expected, especially at amateur performances in the home, that if a much more expensive piano were not available, an accompaniment on guitar might be made or even improvised.  There is some indication that he might have done that, himself.   It is also known that in the decades after his death, Franz von Schlechta, one of his sometimes collaborators and friends made a large number of such transcriptions for his own use.   I don't think anyone today has the standing to second guess the judgement of someone who actually knew Schubert, especially if the results are a musical success. For all we know he based what he did on what he heard Schubert either doing or approving of.  

Here is a really interesting arrangement of Der Lindenbuam which uses harmonics and other effects which I doubt Schubert could perform but which I can't imagine he'd object to if he heard it.  Perhaps his friend, Mauro Giuliani could have done it.  

I would certainly rather have people singing his songs with a guitar than first hearing them from one of the myriad recordings of his songs played on instruments, with no one singing a syllable.   Schubert wrote songs to be sung to texts he wanted to be heard and thought about.   That was one of the things that finally got me to stop listening to the morning music show on our local public radio station where they seemed to have a policy against ever playing a recording of a singer singing Schubert, instead playing recordings by celebrity violinists, flutists and cellists playing the lines no where near as interestingly as hearing a singer singing them.  If there's a violation of musical intent, that's it. 

Why It Is Impossible To Stop The Serial Mass Gun Murders In The United States Is Obvious

that is as true this morning with its merely most recent mass murder as it was with the one less than a week ago.

1.  The Supreme Court allows the promotion of violence through its enablement of corporations and entire industries to meddle in politics, driving out the most responsible politicians who are replaced by the most irresponsible.  Corporate person hood, the permission to lie, making it impossible to either punish or outlaw lying in politics and in broadcast or print media.  

2.  The Republican Supreme Court we've had for a long time now, has baldly enabled the gun industry which backs their party.  It has a direct role in the promotion of serial mass murder in the United States.  It is way past time to stop lying about that.

3.  Our Constitution has not only failed to protect us from the combined forces that have conspired to produce these serial mass murders, it has defects that make it simple for thugs in robes and in legislatures and executive offices to do what has been done.  Our Constitution which didn't prevent the Supreme Court from making corporations immortal, super-persons and, specifically, the horribly written Second Amendment and the idiotic permission to lie given by some of the most muddle-headed pseudo-liberal rulings of the past half century combined to produce the epidemic of mass murder by gun which is the real terror campaign against the American People.   

4. The foolish founders believed that a sense of honor would be a sufficient replacement for a sense of morality and explicitly written legal documents, even as their own actions disproved that belief.  Their attempts at poetry as legislation are in the most serious need of correction from the two centuries and more of living with their bad decisions and, in their foolishness, they made it almost impossible to do that under the rules they made.  Our Constitution is most in need of being knocked off of the pedestal that the beneficiaries of the status quo which is killing us have glued it to. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Palestrina - La Cruda Mia Nemica - Allesandro Moreschi and other soloists

You'll read a lot of nonsense about Allesandro Moreschi having been a great singer when, if he hadn't been the "last of the castrati" I doubt anyone would look on the recordings of his voice as much more than a miscellaneous curiosity.   After having listened to all of the available recordings of his voice - or as close to those as you can get online, I think this is the he one that gives you the best idea of how really mediocre an artist he was.  The tenor and bass on this recording and even the countertenor-alto are better singers, even with the pretty anachronistic romantic-operatic qualities of all of them inappropriately used for Palestrina's counterpoint.   Moreschi obviously made up for a lack of training and taste with hamming it up.  This has nothing in it that compares with the record of written music sung by and composed for the castrati of the earlier centuries.   The male-sopranists of today are a closer approximation of those abilities, if not of the actual voice, and there is no way to know that for the best of them.   I couldn't find a recording of that particular madrigal that I wanted to post, though there are better ones on Youtube.

Here is one of the very best of those who sing in the top register,  Franco Fagioli (yes, the beard is real) singing one of the last roles written for the castrati, Arsace in Rossini's Aureliano in Palmira from 1813.

And Michael Maniaci, one of the very, very rare natural adult male sopranos, singing in full chest register the very last of the classical castrati roles, Armando in Meyerbeer's Il crociato in Egitto, composed in 1824.

When the last of the operatic castrati for whom those two roles were written, Giovani Veluti sang it in London, he got bad reviews, it was the first time in more than two decades that a castrato had appeared in an opera there and musical tastes had changed, drastically.   He continued performing on the continent with better reception and in concert for a number of years after that.   He died about 1860.  With him the golden age of the castrati ended, the recordings of Moreschi not even a shadow of that.

Update:  There is a really odd BBC program about the castrati and a really stupid attempt to "recreate" the voice using computers that proves, if nothing else does, that when a techie puts his hand to something like making a computer sing like a person, the results will be stupid.

This Is Your Country Entertained To Death

This is going to be short, it's a horribly busy week here.

That woman who shot up the Home Depot parking lot in Auburn Hills, Michigan is a product of a number of things, all of them getting back to paranoid, idiotic ideas fed to the susceptible by TV, Movies and hate-talk radio.

She obviously saw herself as an adjunct law officer, packing a 9mm handgun, I assume enabled by the gun-industry sponsored carry laws that have sprung up like poisonous mushrooms all over America.  Those sold through TV and hate-talk radio and, to an extent, the movies.

She obviously had some kind of fantasy heroic idea of what she was doing, again as sold through a long series of movies, TV shows and later hate-talk radio and, now, the internet.  

That the police as of the last time I looked,  hadn't yet charged the nutcase who is packing is probably also a product of the media, I'm sure they're wondering what kind of FOX style hero this dangerous person will be turned into, they being the villains in a story line pitched to other insane people with guns.

This is all the product of crappy hack writers who work in the media churning out crap with the most facile and unrealistic story lines, story lines which never have to face what real people face, the real results of things like psychotic would-be vigilantes who are packing heat.  It is also the result of the "news" arm of that media who are as unrestrained by reality and responsibility as the "entertainment" arms of it.  Once broadcast and other media were released from any kind of responsibility to the communities and the country in which they operate, they did what any intelligent person could have predicted they would, they drove the media and the country straight to the bottom where the easiest money could be found.


Related to this, we now know that Laurel Harper, the mother of the latest serial mass murderer, was an open-carry, paranoid gun-nut who expressed all of her multiple symptoms on Face-book.   I think when someone publicly announces themselves as an open-carry gun nut with symptoms of paranoid delusions their neighbors and other members of the community have a right to know it.   I suspect the police can't and, perhaps, shouldn't monitor the online rantings of these crackpots who haven't, yet, killed anyone, that shouldn't stop private citizens from keeping a watch list based on the self-given, voluntary, information that these people self-publish.  I wouldn't even be especially concerned if the police did keep a list of those people but since the government enables this class of violent psychopaths they permit to roam, armed, among us, we have a right to know who they are.


And, finally, that terrible story about the bigot posting a selfie with a 3-year-old boy for the edification of himself and his racist, dirt-talking twittering, fellow bottom scum goes several steps lower than the Palin-Dawkins-Maher bullying of a 14-year-old boy.   That's another class of people who should be considered to have opened themselves up for unwelcome publicity of the kind that, I read, got him fired.

The internet, the "information age" has turned out to work at least as well for the worst of human pathology as it has for anyone looking for reliable information and ways to improve life.   Anyone who has seen American media in the post-Sullivan decision, post-Fairness Doctrine, post- community service era should have seen this happening.  It's the same thing the vaunted free-press did with its freedoms, it's no wonder that the people whose minds are formed from the content they got there would do what they do.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Schubert - Nacht und Träume

Tenor: Ian Bostridge
Piano: Julius Drake

Heinrich Schütz - O Lieber Herre Gott, Wecke Uns Auf, SWV 381

Dresdner Kreuzchor
Rudolph Mauersberger, director


My favorite recording of this and other six-part motets by Schütz was recorded by Emanuel Music conducted by the great Craig Smith.  I don't know if it's still available.   It started going through my head yesterday and I wanted to post it.

The First Person Who Says "Nones" Loses

It just happens that I came across several posts and articles about "Nones" yesterday, the category in surveys which means those who are unaffiliated or don't self-identify as any of the religious categories provided by those designing the surveys, quite a grab-bag of religious believers who are unaffiliated, people who merely don't believe in "any particular thing" but who fail to identify as agnostics or atheists, a small percent who do self-identify as agnostics and an even smaller percentage who self-identify as atheists.   Anyone who has read much of my blog may know that the category was invented by an active promoter of atheism, Barry Kosmin, for what I hold are the most obvious of ideological reasons.  I'll repost my argument below.   It is clearly not a scientific description of any real, coherent group, it is an artificially created set, not even a real representation of the people in the set as what defines their inclusion in that set is not any set thing, in itself.  The non-affiliation of a religious person, such as myself, who has chosen not to choose any of a number of very worthwhile religious affiliations is clearly not the same as that of an atheist who hates all of religion, yet, if I would be one of the about 8% of those who will even take a poll on this topic, Pew or Gallup or some other polling outfit would put me in the same category as them on the topic of religion.   Even the sub-categories are ill defined as I was surprised to find last night when I took another look at it, for example, 14% of those who call themselves atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit.  If it were me and I got those results it would lead me to the logical conclusion that self-reporting, self-identification was, in itself, unreliable and could not generate anything legitimately considered data for any scientific purpose.  But, then, I don't make my living by pretending that surveys and polling are science.

At any rate, the category "Nones", clearly and successfully introduced for purposes of the promotion of atheism at the expense of religion, was always a phony PR effort, not science.  Anyone in sociology who uses the term is clearly in on the fraud as it is a blatantly illegitimate categorization of disparate people lumping them together for dishonest purposes.   Here's why.

I Accuse Kosmin of Ideological Distortion In Creating the "Nones"

You will certainly in the next few days or weeks hear some reference to the "Nones,"  that category in the Pew surveys that is often claimed by atheists as proof-positive that they're going to win, man because the "nones" are the fastest growing group of people in the United States and.... something.  You know, the group which includes pretty much anyone who doesn't claim membership in a particular denomination of religion.   I have pointed out, many times, that, by the definitions provided by the Pew and other polling organizations, I'm considered a "none".

Well, I hadn't given a lot of thought as to who came up with the category until I came across this piece which names the man who invented the term, Barry A. Kosmin.   The piece describes him as:

...  the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and a professor at Trinity College, Kosmin had been helping to conduct the American Religion Identification Survey for nearly three decades. 

I was familiar with Kosmin for a different reason which I'll get to in a minute. 

His reasoning in coming up with the term is given as:

Once they’d evaluated data from the 1990s, Kosmin and
his team were determined to name a new category.

“Nonreligious” was a possibility. So was “non-faith” and “non-affiliated.”

But Kosmin rejected all of these. The “non” part bothered him. “Non-affiliated” would be like calling people “non-white,” he said. “We didn’t want to suggest that ‘affiliated’ was the norm, and every one else was an ‘other.’”
“Nomenclature,” he added, ” is quite important in these things.”

So Kosmin began calling this group the “nones,” a shortened version for “none of the above” — which is what people often said when asked to name their religion. He never thought the term would stick.

“It began as a joke,” he said, “but now, like many of these things, it has taken on its own life.”

Indeed. Today, “nones” are everywhere. Both in a literal sense and a literary one.

I will point out that, having looked up the dictionary meaning of the word "norm",  in the context of what Kosmin is engaged in doing, purportedly coming up with sociological and statistical information, based on the results of his own data, being religiously affiliated is the norm in the United States and, indeed, in most countries.  He might not like that but it is a fact, though like so many on his ideological side,  the actual meaning of words don't matter nearly as much as their ideological preferences.

If he had gone with the other alternatives he mentions and put only those who had no religious belief in that category, the percentage given as "Nones" would be less than half of what it generally is claimed to be and less newsy.  More of those included as "Nones" express some kind of religious belief than the percentage who are atheists, if not both atheists and agnostic combined, in most of the times I've seen a percentage break down given. 

Which gets me to how I knew of Kosmin, he's a member of the board of directors of the Center for Inquiry, one of the alphabet soup named groups begun by Paul Kurtz to promote atheism, primarily by attacking religion.  So the conflict of interest you may have suspected in his creation of that category so useful in atheist propaganda, is documented. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hate Mail On Male Sopranos

You can count on one thing if you raise the topic of men who sing in the alto and mezzo-soprano range,  snarky comments mocking the practice.  But the very same people who give full vent to their inner-12-year-old-boy on the topic are the very same people who grooved to some Frankie Valli, Roy Orbison, Neil Young, or some other rock singer who sang in the same range, only, perhaps Orbison excluded, no where near as competently, vocally, certainly not as interestingly, musically.   The difference is that you have to pay attention to someone singing Handel (I mean the pieces you haven't heard a zillion times and stop hearing due to over familiarity) or Marcello or Monteverdi, or the other composers who I've been posting.   The need to pay attention is the real issue dividing pop music and classical music of any complexity, they don't want to pay attention at that mental age anymore than they wanted to do their homework in any subject they didn't like or find easy.

Benedetto Marcello - Chiaro e Limpido Fonte

Philippe Jaroussky & Max Emanuel Cencic, voices
Les Arts Flourissantes, William Christie, director

That this began with me finding Philippe Jaroussky singing music outside of his specialty, something any musician with the technique and curiosity to do it does, including those who do rock music, should tell you something about the difference between an intelligent, curious musician and an mindless pop guzzler.  And, it being a bit on the forbidden side, raising it was irresistible to a thought criminal like me.  I knew the reaction it would get with the usual flyspecks as I decided to go there. They never, ever, say anything new or slightly interesting.

By the way, the biggest motive in the horrible industry in castrating boys wasn't the church, it was the very secular opera industry, the musical comedy - Hollywood type spectacle media of the 17th and 18th centuries.   The opera was generally more in danger of being shunned and banned by religious authorities than supported by it, at least before the 19th century.  The church use of castratos, mostly in Rome and other Italian cities, grew out of the secular creation of castrati.   It was, of course, a bad idea, it was grotesquely immoral - many young boys died of the operation and very few, perhaps one percent of those who were castrated, went on to have significant careers as opera stars.

Less significantly, it led to some really awful church and religious music, as heard in the few recordings that Allesandro Moreschi* left.  That is especially true in 19th century Italy where the remnants of the practice persisted into the 20th century.   Religion and theater music is most often a recipe for bad music and bad religion, the theater will tend to win out over religion in that contest.  It takes a real musical genius to make that reconciliation and they aren't in any more abundance than vocal genius among castrated boys.

Instead of using the issue in some brainless and historically uninformed Christian bashing it would be useful to point out that the international sex industry that all right-thinking sex-positive folk are supposed to support carries out a trade in boys who are abducted, castrated and prostituted, quite often to western men in sex tourism.   And, I'll point out that bashing Jews for it is especially stupid because, almost uniquely among people in the ancient Mediterranean basin, Jews forbade the practice for humans and even for animals.   Most of the enormous numbers of males who were castrated were slaves kept to labor of for sex with men, not to sing.  But concentrating on the real and present evil of the prostitution and porn industries isn't kewl, the uselessness of snarking over things done three or four centuries ago is a lot less work.

*  I made an error in my post the other day, Moreschi wasn't an old man when he made those recordings, he was in his 40s, which should be a competent singer's prime.   I'm prepared to believe he never sang any better than that.   One of the contemporary descriptions of his singing when he was in his 20s mentioned there being " a tear in every note", which describes his recorded sound.  I also read there is some indication that he was castrated as a result of medical practice, to treat a particular type of hernia for which, I also read, castration was the only scientifically recognized treatment.  All I can say is that if it were me, I'd have tried to do more with my voice than produce those tacky, melo-dramatic effects.   He clearly had a voice, he clearly lacked the training to do more with it.  Too bad he didn't study with Pauline Viardot who could have steered him in a better direction.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Handel - Come Nube Che Fugge Dal Vento - Philippe Jaroussky

Jaroussky as that ultimate bad-boy Nero in Handel's opera Agrippina.   This sounds a lot more convincing as an approximation of the discription of the baroque castrati's singing than the old counter-tenors of fifty years ago.   If you think the costume and wig are a bit over the top, it is opera.

If you want a sort of battle of the male sopranos, here's another of today's biggest stars, Max Emanuel Cencic.

And here's Jennifer Rivera singing it as a pants role

Update:  OK, here is the late Alfred Deller singing Handel in 1953.  He was a great singer and artist, you have to grant him that, but he was no coloratura singer, a good part of that could have been the lack of training - he was pretty much a pioneer in counter-tenor singing.   It's impressive, considering his training in the English choral tradition,  that he managed to learn how to pronounce words clearly, especially at that pitch range.

Update 2:  The stupidity of the Brain Trust on this topic is predictable.  The value of the life of no-mind.   But they'll tell you how smart they are.  Since there is no evidence to that effect.

Neo-Integralist Catholics and Neo-Atheists Have A Common Cause of Discrediting Pope Francis

The continuing online obsession with the brief meeting that Kim Davis had with Pope Francis proves that it is extremely important for two groups of people generally taken to be enemies of each other have something important in common.  Those groups in this case are the right wing of the Catholic hierarchy and the Catholic and Pope hating neo-atheists.   The right-wing of the Catholic hierarchy and the atheists have something in common, a mutual desire to discredit a very popular and liberal pope, to take him down as a popular, world figure, to discredit his focus on economic justice and environmental protection, justice for the stranger among us....

That both groups would like him to concentrate exclusively on the topics of abortion, sexual practice and other legalistic topics that made Benedict XVI unpopular is obvious.   It's even true that the two groups have a similar interest in the results of that concentration.  Pope Benedict was openly prepared for the Catholic church to lose members.  He was a reactionary who clearly didn't like the changes that came with the Second Vatican Council and who pined for a romantic, never extant "pure" church which would be small in numbers and controlled by his own, romantic and fictitious orthodox definition of real Catholicism. He'd been writing things to that effect since the late 1960s.   Since his vision of Catholicism was what he was known for, his elevation by John Paul II, who more or less named him as his chosen successor, it was also what Benedict's predecessor favored.  That those two had a similar goal as the neo-atheists makes their similar dislike of Pope Francis somewhat less surprising, perhaps.  That both groups see other goals as more important than the Catholic church following the instructions left by Jesus and his apostles, in short, to remember the poor, the oppressed, the stranger among us, and the protection of the environment makes their common cause less surprising than it might otherwise be.

I hope that this incident shows Pope Francis the need to move quickly to replace many of the bishops and cardinals appointed in the past two decades.   One of the worst aspects of the last two papacies was the elevation of hacks who were incompetent pastors but who could be counted on to toe the line as set by the insiders of the Vatican.    This incident was a reminder if not an introduction into the internal politics at the upper reaches of the hierarchy which became a massive series of scandals under those two would-be purifying popes. The lesson for Catholic conservatives should be that they should have removed the beam in their own eyes before they called out others for the spec in theirs. Though, like the neo-atheists, they are rigidly resistant to that because their position isn't really concerned with things like justice and the necessities of life, certainly not with the rights and real lives of real people, it is with getting their own way.

The lesson for the rest of us is that those two groups are not to be trusted, neither of them are basically concerned with real life or even their claimed values.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pauline Viardot - Havanaise

Cecilia Bartoli
Pianist, name not listed

Phillippe Jaroussky,  male soprano
Jérôme Ducros, piano

The past few decades have certainly seen a huge development in the recovery of the art of adult men singing in the alto and mezzo soprano range.  Phillippe Jaroussky has brought that far, far farther than old Alfred Deller ever did.   It's interesting to hear him in 19th century, romantic style music instead of the  baroque arias and operas he usually sings.  I would guess he's a lot closer to how the legendary  baroque castrati sounded than even the available recordings of the last of those surgically created male sopranos singing in a rather horrid, over the top way well into his old age.

But I was going to concentrate on Pauline Viardot instead of male sopranos.   A number of Viardot's songs are a reminder that she was Spanish and was able to give first hand advice to other composers about "Spanish music" of the type that would be more often composed well after she wrote this song, probably in the late 1870s.

She wrote a lot more music than what I read led to believe last week.