I was chatting with the soloists who sang at my church Sunday. One of them remarked that it must be satisfying to accompany a large group of singers at church services. I replied that it was.  It is one of the rare times in our culture when everybody gets to do music. In the course of this conversation I pointed out how lucky the three of us were to have music in our lives.

I thought of this yesterday as I was playing through piano music of Shostakovich and Prokofiev.

On the drive back and forth to Grand Rapids on Monday I listened to the Califax recording of the Shostakovich 24 Preludes and Fugues. These are amazing piano pieces which the group Califax has transcribed for their reed quintet.

Subsequently I played through some of the Shostakovich on Monday and Tuesday. The first prelude and fugue is simple but beautiful.

Here is Shostakovich himself playing it.

This music made me think of Prokofiev’s piano sonatas.

From time to time I rehearse them. The slow movement of his Sonata 2 in D minor is beautiful.

Performed by Frederic Chiu, Piano.

Recently I was thinking of my high school Wind Ensemble and our performance of a suite by Gustav Holst. I think learning this piece with a Wind Ensemble had a formative effect on me. Over the years one  sometimes calls up similar materials for improvisations. I realize that the ascending figure of the first movement is probably where I first heard an easy  happy theme to improvise on.

I recall a trumpet solo I played in the slow movement, but it sounds like the trumpet may be doubled with clarinet and other reeds in the recordings I have heard. Also I think the way Holst combines Greensleeves with a little dance in the last movement is charming.  It would make a cool transcription for an organ piece.

I made a treadmill playlist which included the Holst Suite, a couple of the Planet movements I like and Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony movement one. I remember playing a piano transcription of the latter when I took lessons as a kid. But that’s another story.

1. Jim Jeffords, Who Altered Power in Senate, Dies at 80 –

One of the old breed, someone you could possibly believe was acting on principle.

2. In China, Myths of Social Cohesion –

Bending ancient myths for contemporary purposes.

3. Study Details Elephant Deaths –

The Oryx and Crake trilogy makes me look at these ongoing tragedies even more intensely. In the trilogy there is an important online game called “Extinctation.”

4. Is Gov. Rick Perry’s Bad Judgment Really a Crime? –

All reports I have read about this seem to indicate that Perry is indeed the subject of partisan attack by elevating his misconduct to a felony charge.

5. 5 common self-sabotaging statements – Waking Up in Wonder

Flattering that this blogger linked in an old post of mine when she was looking for online copies of Mary Oliver poems. I love the interwebs.

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