About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

25 May 2013

The Music of Korngold

For the past month, Classic FM has been inundated with adverts for a chamber concert featuring the music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold - and the ads were annoyingly bad too. As noted in the program (and for that matter in the Wikipedia article also), although he had very notable success with film scores, his work is largely forgotten, and not often performed. South African based pianist,  Luis Magalhães together with Priya Mitchell (Violin from UK), Daniel Rowland (Violin from UK/Netherlands) and Julian Arp (Cello from Germany) have started the Korngold Project - to record (and perform) the music of Korngold. The first performance was in Johannesburg last night, and will be followed by performances in Cape Town and Stellenbosch this weekend.

The show was supposed to start with Schubert's String Trio in B Flat Major, but that was scrapped as the musicians felt that they were not prepared enough. Given the overall length of the concert, it was not exactly being short-changed. The concert started instead with Mahler's (unfinished, as narrated by Daniel Rowland) Piano Quartet in A Minor. It is a sad, but beautiful piece - of something lost that was greatly treasured - something unexpected from a teenage composer; and to be honest, it didn't feel unfinished.

Korngold's Piano Trio in D Major, was the first Korngold piece of the evening. It is a fairly long piece (over 45 minutes IIRC), and quite a fun piece - in complete contrast to the Mahler. It was also written by a young prodigy (program notes state, Korngold was 13 years old), and it does have the childlike enthusiasm and energy. Korngold's Suite for Two Violins, Cello and Piano Left Hand, was at least as long as the Piano Trio, performed after the interval. It was a collection of 5 pieces, with contrasting styles. The last two pieces of the suit were particularly impressive and my favourite of the Korngold pieces. 

I have been to many classical concerts, but they generally tend to be large productions. A chamber concert, with four performers at times looked lonely in the large Linder stage. But the concert was somehow more intimate than the orchestral performances, and each musician was more expressive and more energetic than even most soloists in orchestral performances. As to the composer - the music is certainly interesting; and having heard some of the film scores (on radio) this week - I think a larger Korngold project encompassing the various styles of music he created would certainly be worthwhile.

19 May 2013

Body Worlds - The Cycle of Life

I have seen the Body Worlds display before in Barcelona, and the display is now in Johannesburg. The displays were not all the same, but the overall theme and content was. Starting with conception, ending with death, well actually the act of conception; it is a celebration of the complex machine of the human body. In a short span of time and space, the exhibition manages to teach the visitor a lot about the human body, with some jaw dropping displays, and some not so pleasant displays (that still gets the point across).

In the section on lungs, there was a display on the differences between a non-smoker and a smoker's lung - what I found interesting, was a number of models used, especially in the athletic poses, seemed to have been smokers!

Even though M and I went in the afternoon, it was very busy, and it took us a good 2 hours to go through the full exhibition. There were a lot of kids, and at least one parent was a doctor, giving her kids a more detailed discussion on the various displays. There is only one "adult" section, featuring a couple in coitus, and most of it is rather medical in nature - just a lot more accessible than a cadaver in medschool.

Mind Games @ SciBono

Most of the exhibits at SciBono are geared for kids; with a lot of hands-on exhibits demonstrating concepts of electricity, physics etc. 

Mindball is different; reading the alpha-brainwaves from the participants, the object is to relax more than the other player, and the person with the lower value moves the ball. It is quite eerie in how it works; especially as the only way to win, is not to think of winning ...

House of Baobab

Located in the Maboneng precinct, House of Baobab is an African restaurant featuring food from across Africa. On Sundays, they have a buffet with some absolutely delicious food. At R80 a person, it is great value too!