Friday, October 20, 2017

Line Mar Match Box Construction 070 - Signal

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

070. Signal

Although the instruction sheet calls this model a signal, I'd consider it more of a semaphore. The picture shows a signal arm and lever linked by a taut piece of string (or thread). 

Well, compromises needed to be made. There's no way the fragile construction below could stay assembled if there was any stress added to it. So I went with wire instead of a string. 

 The cool thing about this build was that it possibly could have worked. At left is a detail of the lever. The original illustration is a little blurred, but it was possible to have a lever that rotated on an axle.

And it was also possible to build the signal arm so that it, too, would rotate. The problem was that there was nothing to hold back either the arm or the lever.

The fiberboard collars didn't grip the pieces tight enough to offer any resistance to the wire.

If you look closely, you'll see that only the top of the base is preventing the level from being pulled all the way up.

That wire is also keeping the signal arm in place.

When I tried, ever-so-gently to push down on the arm, the support post gave way. It's built of two long dowels joined together by a wooden collar. And the collar doesn't hold them together very well.

If you look closely at the photo, you'll see where I used clear tape to thicken the diameter of the dowels. It did prevent the collar from sliding down, but it was never a very solid joint.

I used wooden discs on the top and bottom of the dowels to add additional support, but it still wasn't enough. This toy works as a static display. But the first time I tried to signal with it, it signaled the end of the piece.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Draeseke Quintets - Music Whose Time Has Come?

Conductor Hans von Bülow was a champion of Felix Draeseke's works. Yet he considered Draeseke's music "a hard nut to crack." Because of that, von Bülow predicted that Draeseke would "never be popular among the ordinary".

After listening to these quintets, I don't agree with von Bülow's first assessment. Although the second's true enough.

Draeseke was a student of Franz Liszt and an early admirer of Richard Wagner. Draeseke's use of Wagner-like leitmotifs and his fondness for counterpoint may be von Bülow's "hard nut."

Wagner's music puzzled many contemporary audiences. It makes sense that Draeseke's might also.

A century later, though, it doesn't elicit the same response (unless you really hate Wagner).

Draeseke's quintets aren't slavish imitations in any way. His music builds logically, heaping line upon line in masterful polyphonic construction. While the key may not always be clear, there's still a strong sense of forward motion. And everything seems to resolve satisfyingly in the final cadences.

If you like the tried-and-true, Draeseke's works may not appeal to you. But if you want something beyond the ordinary, these quintets might be just the thing. Draeseke's music seems to flow from one idea to the next.

The performances on this release are well-executed. The ensemble has a robust, full-bodied sound that makes loud passages especially exciting. And yet the players can play with delicacy when necessary. That ability provides clarity to some of the especially thick contrapuntal sections.

Felix Draeseke: Quintets Op. 48 & 77; Scene Op. 69
Solistenensemble Berlin; Breuninger Quartet
CPO 555 107-2

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Carl Abel Op. 7 Symphonies -- Better than Mozart?

For quite a while the 6th symphony of Carl Friedrich Abel's Op. 7 was attributed to Mozart as his third. It's a logical error. Young Mozart hand-copied the work in 1764 for study while visiting London. When the manuscript was found in his papers, stylistically it matched Mozart's and was in his hand, and so...

Carl Abel's Op. 7 collection represented the current state of the still-developing symphony. In the 1760s the symphony was in transition. It was growing from being part of a Baroque suite into a self-contained four-movement work.

Abel's contribution in his 1767 publication was the development of the slow movement. They become more lyrical and song-like, pointing the way to the symphonies of the 1790s and early 1800s.

No wonder the 11-year-old Mozart wanted to study these works further.

La Stagione Frankfurt directed by Michael Schneider does Abel's symphonies justice. They play the opening movements at breakneck speed. The ensemble races up and down scales and patterns with incredible precision.

Their performances of those slow movements are beautifully executed. The long, flowing melodies seem to sing at times.

 La Stagione Frankfurt eschews a galant style interpretation. Instead, they present Abel's symphonies as substantial, full-bodied Germanic works. And in the process, do Abel's music a great service.

My impression? Abel's Op. 7 symphonies might even be better than those of pre-teen Mozart.

Carl Friedrich Abel: Symphonies, Op. 7
La Stagione Frankfurt; Michael Schneider, conductor
CPO CX 7993