Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bolero's Mesmerizing Crescendo

Best of the tales repeat post from 2015 

Bolero's Mesmerizing Crescendo - March 7, 2015 :
I honor this Tales Classical music weekend to my wife, Sheralyn, as we are celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary on March 8, 2015.  Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" is my wife's favorite classical music piece of all, so this post will feature the great "Bolero."   Also, as this post will cover the entire weekend due to this special importance, I will have a surprise great piece at the end, which is my wife's second favorite piece. 

Sheralyn and Me #33 going on eternity--UPDATE: #36 in 2018
Notes from my previous post, Bolero For My Wife

It is ironic that Bolero, which has a definite Spanish flavor, was written by the great early 20th century French composer and pianist, Maurice Ravel.  While considered one of the great French impressionist composers, like Claude Debussy and Jacques Ibert, Ravel also revealed his love for the classical style in his works. He actually considered himself a classicist.  Ravel had many beautiful great piano and chamber music works, but his orchestral piece Bolero is his most famous and one of his most beloved works.

Bolero is a wonderful teaching piece too as it contains a couple of musical ideas well developed in the classical era and still evident today. Bolero is also a very unique orchestral piece, as we will explain.


The two musical terms I am talking about in Bolero are those of dynamics and crescendo. Dynamics is the volume or intensity of sound [soft, loud, moderate].  The musical term for soft is piano and for loud is forte. A note or passage that is played very soft is called pianissimo and very loud is called fortissimo.   Bolero starts out pianissimo and ends in a fortissimo explosion.  Since this orchestral piece begins very softly, you have to listen closely to hear the opening beats of the snare drum.


The second teaching musical term that you obtain from Bolero is that of crescendo. Crescendo is a passage that is played with a gradual increase in volume or intensity.  Bolero doesn't just have a passage or phrase that is played in a crescendo style.  It is the whole piece that is the crescendo.  As I said Bolero starts out pianissimo [very softly], then piano[softly], then to a moderate sound, then to forte [loudly] and culminates in a fortissimo climax.


Crescendo symbol - means play this measure gradually louder to ff [fortisimo]
The uniqueness of Bolero is that it may be the only piece in the classical or Romantic era that the crescendo dynamics of the piece covers the whole piece. Most of the time when a phrase or section of a Classical or Romantic piece contains a crescendo of sound, it is followed by a decrescendo [gradually lowering of the volume of sound] coming back to it's original intensity.  But this is not true with Bolero.  It never returns to the softness of the opening.  

In this mesmerizing composition, the same theme is repeated over and over for the entire piece.  At first realizing this, you might think "oh, what a boring piece."  To the contrary, when you hear the piece, you will say to yourself, "Oh, what a brilliant, beautiful piece."    


The fact that the same motif is continuously repeated throughout the piece, makes more important and brilliant the use of the crescendo dynamics used by Maurice Ravel.


Here is the great Maestro Gustavo Dudamel leading the Wiener Philharmonic. This for Sheralyn, my love. 


Please turn up the volume and play in full screen and enjoy. 

Maurice Ravel: Bolero:


And for a classical music weekend special bonus piece, my wife's second favorite classical music piece of all, George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. 

George Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue:




Thursday, July 12, 2018

Maybe The Craziest Walkoff You Will Ever See

Alex, "Mr. Walk off", Bregman does it again.  The third baseman and 2018 All Star of the Houston Astros, who has five walk offs since and including his stirring walk off hit in the key 5th game of the 2017 World Series may have come up with the craziest one yet [if you can even call this a walk off] in Tuesday night's game against the Oakland A's.

Alex Bregman, Astros All Star Third Baseman
Alex Bregman has had a single, double, home run, and a pop up that crazily dropped on the infield near home plate, for his other walk offs but wait until you see this one.

Set up: the Astros had a 4-0 lead going into the 9th but gave it up as the A's rallied for 4 runs.  In extra innings, it looked like the Astros would face a demoralizing defeat as the A's hit a HR in top of 11th for a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the 11th.  But a big walk by Josh Reddick [against one of the best relievers in MLB-Blake Treinen] was followed by an even bigger hit by rookie hopeful phenom who just came up from AAA, Kyle Tucker, followed by a FC [throw to home-safe] on a ground ball up the middle by Tony Kemp that tied the game and gave the Astros a huge chance to win the game in the 11th.  So, Alex Bregman was up with runners on first and second and 1 out with a 1-2 count,

when this happened:


Thanks to ATT Sports Net Southwest for the video and thanks to Astros TV Broadcasters, Geoff Blum and Todd Kalas for the great call!


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

This Rendition of 'Side By Side' Will Have You In Stitches

This short video on the Gospel Harmony Channel on You Tube, of the late country and gospel bass singer, George Younce, singing his rendition of "Side by Side", is hilarious.  Although only a couple minutes long, I guarantee it will leave you in stitches.

George Younce [1930-2005]

George Younce' Rendition of "Side by Side":


I told you.   :-) 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Spencer Tillman's Brilliant Analogy Using An Itzhak Perlman Concert Performance

Repeat post from Oct. 5, 2015

Radio and TV sports broadcaster, and former NFL great RB, Spencer Tillman, is a regular on the Texans All Access show on our local CBS 610 radio network with hosts Marc Vandermeer [voice of the Texans] and John Harris every Monday to talk about the Texans and the NFL.

National TV and radio sports announcer, Spencer Tillman
On this Monday, October 5, 2015, Spencer was on to talk about the Texans utter debacle against the Atlanta Falcons.  Marc Vandermeer, the Texans radio announcer, asked Spencer, 'with all of the QB problems and injuries among the wide receivers and after such a disastrous performance given in every aspect of the game [offense, defense, special teams, coaching], what can the coaches possibly say to the team to get them ready to play [with confidence that they can win] against their division rival, the Indianapolis Colts, on Thursday night?' 

Spencer Tillman, without missing a beat, gave this brilliant analogy, using the words from virtuoso legendary violinist, Itzhak Perlman, during one of the concerts he was performing in.  

As I was doing my morning walk while listening to the show I hope I can paraphrase Spencer's answer close to what he exactly said.  Spencer said that he was at this classical concert featuring Itzhak Perlman as violinist in a sonata [with piano].  During the beginning of the second movement of the sonata, Itzhak Perlman's violin broke a string-noticeable to the audience.  Oh, no, how can you possibly play a virtuosic violin piece with only 3 strings.  After a pause, Perlman took his bow and pointed it to the pianist to start the movement over again.  This got a huge ovation from the audience. With only 3 strings, he was able to adjust playing the rest of the piece and played it brilliantly.  When it was over, the crowd stood up giving him a thunderous ovation.  Itzhak took his bow and this time pointed it to the audience, as if telling them to be quiet.  

virtuoso violinist  [and philosopher] Itzhak Perlman
What Itzhak Perlman told the audience, is what Spencer Tillman said the coaches of the Texans should tell the Texans players to get them ready for the game on Thursday night.  Itzhak Perlman told the audience, [again I am paraphrasing], 'Sometimes out of adversity, you can show your true worth [as a great violinist -or whatever you are] by performing your best with what you have available.'   

Wow, what great insightful words from Itzhak Perlman and what a great analogy by Spencer Tillman relating that to a struggling football team.  

Bravo, Itzhak and Spencer!