Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bartok: Piano Concerto No 3

Martha Argerich, Piano
Toho Gakuen Orchestra, Cond. Yuri Bashmet
April 14, 2007

Sunday, October 4, 2015

YouTube’s Copyright Hypocrisy!

Photo: C. J. Papachristou

Here is a story of injustice, humiliation and hypocrisy that many of us have experienced at YouTube:

1. Say, you are a teacher and you need to post a short video clip for educational purposes. It is basically your own production but contains some material whose copyright you don’t own. You submit the video to YouTube...

2. The sophisticated YouTube system inspects it and finally approves publication. They send you a mail congratulating you and urging you to disseminate your work as widely as possible!

3. On your admin page, a message appears informing you that your video contains copyrighted material but you needn’t worry about this. All you have to do is acknowledge this fact and accept a few on-screen commercial messages...

4. Suddenly, a few years later, you receive a less than kind mail from the YouTube admin accusing you of copyright infringement and threatening to close your account, which is severely compromised and put on probation. To even have mere access to your account, you are required to go through the humiliating process of watching a childish cartoon and taking a multiple-choice test!

A naive question: If a giant site like YouTube, possessing the most sophisticated system of copyright detection, cannot assume responsibility for what they publish, how can a “common mortal” like yourself be held responsible for not having predicted a distant-future change of policy of some stupid copyright holder?

Epilog: Perhaps the most dignified response to this humiliating, hypocritical treatment is to withdraw all your material and close your YouTube account yourself, anyway. I know this is extreme, but it is certainly one thing to consider...

Costas J. Papachristou

Monday, August 31, 2015

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

The story of one man who believed he could make a difference, and in doing so, stood up to the entire United State government. A great story about how the American rule of law works and how one man can bring change the course of human events.

Dir. Frank Capra

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Woman in the Window (1944)

Director: Fritz Lang
Writers: Nunnally Johnson (written for the screen by), J.H. Wallis (novel)
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey

When a conservative middle-aged professor engages in a minor dalliance with a femme fatale, he is plunged into a nightmarish quicksand of blackmail and murder.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Anatoly Lyadov: The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62 (1909)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
Jonel Perlea, Conductor

Comment on YouTube by user "Myaskofiev":

This fine performance of Liadov's masterpiece is enhanced by the appropriate and suitably atmospheric vision. The Enchanted Lake (along with Kikimora) premiered in St.Petersburg in Dec.1909. I'll let Nikolai Malko provide the little-known details of event: "I remember very well the first performance of 'Enchanted Lake', conducted by Siloti. The audience was actually transported by the enchanting sound and mood of this charming work...The audience acclaimed the composer with a great ovation and called loudly for him. He did not come. (After prolonged applause) finally Liadov appeared, walked slowly onto the platform and sheepishly took a bow. His manner was not a pretense. Liadov was a genuinely modest man".

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Life is a wonderful adventure as seen by a vixen!

By Thanassis Vavlidas

Following a series of successful productions, such as “Gioconda’s smile” by Manos Hadjidakis and “Tristan und Isolde” by Richard Wagner, the Greek National Opera presented a marvelous new production of Leos Janacek’s “The cunning little vixen” in collaboration with the “Welsh National Opera” and the “Scottish Opera”. This opera, composed by Janacek between 1922 and 1923, is based on a serialized novella written by R. Tesnohlidek and illustrated by St. Lolek, which was first published in the newspaper “Lidove Noviny”. The composer himself wrote the libretto, creating a fairy tale suitable for the whole family. A female fox is captured by a forest ranger and is obliged to learn to live among humans. The vixen finally escapes to freedom, grows up, falls in love, creates a family and finally meets an unexpected death. The forest ranger is the only person who really feels sad for her death. Each animal in the opera has its own behaviour and is not just a naturalistic or smart sketch of an animal. The colourful music includes folk music and rhythms, leitmotivs transformed skilfully and themes of a nostalgic atmosphere created by instruments such as harp, celesta, horn and viola. It is an insightful study of the relationship between the restrictions of human life and the freedom of the animal kingdom.

There is a lot of discussion regarding the opera’s name. There is no mention in the Czech title of a diminutive ("little"), although this term appears since the 1980s in both the German (Das schlaue Fuechslein) and the English version of the opera's name. It was, however, the German name, used for a movie (1965), which established the English "cunning little," ignoring the important double meaning in "Sharp-Ears" of the original title. The first three audio recordings, all from the Czech company Supraphon (Neumann 1957, Gregor 1972, Neumann 1980) used, naturally, the original Czech name. Then, Decca recorded the opera with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1981, and this widely circulated release made the “cunning little vixen” its standard name.

The director David Pountney, assisted in the wonderful sets and costumes by Maria Bjornson, created a land of dream, a symphonic fantasy of voices and colours. At the same time, the cunning vixen becomes the model of a woman who is trying to emancipate at the beginning of the 20th century, trying to control her own life without external restrictions. There is a fine line between tragic and comic actions and Pountney decided to move this line back and forth. The choreography of Stuart Hopps created a moving vision of the music and we are thankful to Elaine Tyler- Hall who revived successfully both the director’s and the choreographer’s ideas.

The young conductor Ondrej Olos took advantage of most melodies in order to show the broad range of orchestral colours while keeping in touch with every single note of the voices. It is not surprising that he was rewarded for conducting this very opera in 2006. All the singers, as well as the choir, made every effort to give an excellent performance. Although it was the first time this opera was staged by the Greek National Opera, one can certainly admit that the vocal parts were successfully performed.

The composer himself described “the cunning little vixen” as “a comic opera with a sad ending”. However, we left the theatre with a feeling of love for nature, as well as a feeling that we love life more than ever!

Thanassis Vavlidas
Member of the “Union of drama and music Greek critics”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Piano Concerto No. 1

1st Movement: Allegro giocoso
2nd Movement: Andante molto cantabile
3rd Movement: Toccata con fuoco

Friday, April 10, 2015

P.I.Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony

Xian Zhang, Conductor
Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
London, PROMS
Royal Albert Hall 2013

Chinese-American conductor Xian Zhang directs the 'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi' in the Byronic epic that closes the season's Tchaikovsky symphony cycle.
Written between Tchaikovsky's Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, Manfred is Russia's Harold in Italy, a work inspired by the programmatic symphonies of Berlioz and depicting the death of a tormented Faustian hero with supernatural gifts and a guilty secret.