A pan of brownies in the oven...

It's coming out in three minutes. Another beautiful day, with a touch of Fall in the early morning.

Pope Saint Zephyrinus, Martyr, pray for us. 

I fell asleep listening to Beethoven's Sechs Lieder von Gellert op 48 last night.  



Four more minutes. The toothpick is not quite spotless. 

The jays are eating me out of house and home, as the expression goes; probably ought to purchase peanuts in bulk. I didn't notice, the last time I was at Kiva downtown, whether they have their bulk bins still open. What I do recall is that they were fussing because I brought my own (Kiva-branded!) bag into the store: the 'protocol' at that point was to use only their own (presumably, cleaned after each use) baskets inside the store-- as if I am going to read the page of small print explaining their nonsense on the doors, in the middle of adverts for Woke This and Woke That. 


Will listen to Ingolf Wunder at the Warsaw Festival in a couple of hours; Beethoven's Appassionata, two Chopin Nocturnes and the Polonaise in A flat major op 53, Liszt's Mephisto waltz and his Sonata in B minor S 178. Am chiefly interested at the moment in the fact of his surname, which is in English what it looks like in German; to my knowledge I've never heard him play although I have seen the name. Looking at his website, I'm impressed that he occupies himself with marriage and business in addition to the piano and conducting: he's very good doubtless but has decided to remain at a certain level of play without attempting to reach the Empyrean glories. Good for him that he knows his mind and hasn't let the critics and marketers use it for their purposes.


In mid-May, the pianist's wife Paulina Wunder wrote a very interesting post on their blog, speculating about the consequences of the plague and of the response to the plague. 

“Where are you going next?” a slightly bored assistant of a manager of a renowned orchestra asked us while driving us to our hotel after a concert.

“Well, we’re going to X in a few days.” my husband answered.

“And what’s next?” the assistant asked again.

“After that we’re going to Y!” my husband informed her.

“And what’s next?” the assistant continued in a stubborn and dull manner.

She repeated the question a few times more.

In that moment I felt there is something terribly wrong: an ex-junior manager of an important artist agency, who happened to work now in a lower-level management of an important orchestra sees the act of going for concerts as a routine, no matter how impressive and important the venues of the concerts are. There was no respect in her voice, no excitement. Only “business as usual” approach. What’s even more disappointing-- many artists talk exactly the same way: ‘what’s next?’ asked and answered in an unexcited, unimpressed way. Sadly, for way too many artists playing concerts is just a routine. Or rather… it was....

Well worth the read, although there are a few infelicities in the English, due either to the fact that English is a second language for Frau Wunder or to machine translation; but one can see what is wanted to be said.

‘You have to deliver’ this is one of the circle’s favorite sayings.

Now, there is nothing to deliver. The racetrack has been brutally closed, throwing musicians around and leaving them on their own. The planes don’t fly. The venues are closed. The managers don’t have anything to manage, the record labels cannot profit from the concerts, neither can they make new recordings. The PR agents can still put some effort in promoting artists, but artists’ income has been severely limited or stopped altogether, so their willingness to pay PR bills is questionable. The whole cycle is off the rails: 


Listening to András Schiff's recital at Salzburg, at Arte; Schubert and Janáček's Piano Sonata 1.X.1905. The unpleasant government of Herr Kurz doesn't prevent Maestro Schiff from performing at Salzburg; I wonder if Viktor Orbán remains persona non grata in Schiff's book. I suppose so. 


One learns something new every single day. To 'soft pedal' a thing or notion I had always understood, I think, as the analogue of 'hard sell' i.e. 'soft sell', 'soft peddle'-- even though doubtless Mrs Brenton Hoyt Smith instructed me about the soft pedal in the course of my lessons, even if I've used the term, even though I must have seen 'soft-pedalled' in print, a hundred times over the course of fifty years. And of course that's not right at all: the term does indeed derive from the 'soft pedal' of the piano, the leftmost pedal designed originally to cause only one or two of the three strings to be struck by the hammer, reducing the volume and force of the sound thereby: hence the notation una corda, due corde in Italian. 

The Dictionary points out that pedlars trade in, peddle small items, giving rise to the second meaning of the verb, "to occupy oneself with trifles... to engage with something in a cursory or ineffectual manner, to dally", in which sense peddle is from piddle. 

"There is," the Dictionary continues, "much semantic overlap in the group of words connected with pedlar n.2 and peddle v.1, probably arising from the trifles often sold by pedlars." Indeed.





Have moved on to today's Vienna Philharmonic concert at Salzburg, conducted by Christian Thielemann and featuring the spectacular Elina Garanča, who sang Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder. I thought the flowers at the shoulders were spectacular, too. Bruckner's great Symphony no 4 is upcoming.