Friday, June 23, 2017

Line Mar Match Box Construction 056 - Yarn Winder

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.

056. Yarn Winder

The past few builds seem to be inspired by industrial machinery. A hand-turned yarn winder might be a little archaic, but it's definitely part of that trend. 

The build itself had some problems. The winding posts would have been easier to assemble with smaller fingers, but it wasn't impossible. 

As it turned out, the illustrator was a little optimistic about the crankshaft. Since all four of the long dowels are used for the yarn winders, I only had short ones left for the crank. That meant the crankshaft dowel could only pass through one hole on the post -- it wasn't long enough to fit through the other side, which would have stabilized it.

Even so, I thought the photo came out pretty well, resembling the illustration in most aspects.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

May 2017 #ClassicsaDay #SovietaDay annotated list - Part 3


One of the ongoing Twitter hashtag groups I participate with is #ClassicsaDay. The idea’s pretty simple: post a link to a classical work, and – in the body of the tweet – provide a little info about it.

For May 2017, some of the participants decided to use the theme #SovietaDay. Part 1 fills in the background behind my selections.

 Below is the second group of composers I shared. For the most part, they're the generation born just after the Revolution and grew to maturity during the Second World War.

Soviet composers born 1904-1931

Aleksey Semyonovich Zhivotov (1904-1967) 
Zhivotov was a member of the Leningrad Composer's Union. He's best remembered for his song cycles.

Gavril Popov (1904-1972) 
Popov was considered to be just as talented as his contemporary Dmitri Shostakovich, but not as disciplined. His first symphony was immediately banned after its premiere in 1935. In order to survive, he tried to write as conservatively as possible, and keep himself sedated with alcohol. It worked. He won the Stalin Prize in 1946.

Tikhon Khrennikov (1913-2007) 
Khrennikov was never adventurous as a composer and was well-suited to his role as head of the Union of Soviet Composers. He was politically adept (eventually becoming a deputy of the Supreme Soviet), and claimed Stalin "knew music better than any of us." The fate of many a Soviet composer was determined directly or indirectly by Khrennikov.

Georgy Sviridov (1915-1998) 
Sviridov was best known for his choral works, which drew on the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. His 1959 Oratorio Pathetique won the Lenin Prize.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996) 
Weinberg was a Polish Jew who fled East from the Nazis in 1939, eventually arriving in Moscow. He became a protege of Shostakovich, who protected him as best he could. He survived arrest as a "formalistic and cosmopolitan" composer in 1949. After the Stalin era, his music returned to circulation.

Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006) 
A student and colleague of Shostakovich, Ustvolskaya spent most of her career on the fringe. Her style was too modern for official sanction. Only after the fall of the Soviet Union was her music played with any frequency. the Grand Duet for Cello and Piano by

Mikael Tariverdiev (1931-1996) 
Tariverdiev was an important film composer as well as a classical music composer. He scored over 130 films and headed the Composers' Guild of the Soviet Cinematographers' Union. His catalog also includes four operas, two violin concertos, and a sizable number of chamber and vocal works.

Sofia Asgatovna Gubaidulina (1931- ) 
Gubaidulina had a rocky relationship with the Soviet authorities. She had to hide her interest in spiritual practices that inspired her music. Gubaidulina won a Stalin fellowship to study composition, but later her music was called "irresponsible." She scored some of the most popular films in the USSR but was blacklisted from the Union of Soviet Composers for unauthorized participation in Western music festivals. In the West, her reputation -- and popularity -- steadily grew, and she's now recognized as one of the most important composers of her generation.

Next: Soviet composers born after 1931

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Silesian String Quartet launch Mieczyslaw Weinberg series

This release is the first of a seven-disc traversal of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's 17 string quartets. It's an ambitious project, and it's off to a good start.

The Silesian Quartet pairs two chamber works by Weinberg: his 1959 String Quartet No. 7 and his youthful Piano Quintet in F minor. Both provided catharsis for the composer, which can make their emotional power almost overwhelming.

Weinberg completed the piano quintet when he was 20. He had left his native Poland, just barely escaping the Nazis. His immediate family was not as fortunate -- they perished in the Holocaust.

The quintet has an undercurrent of sorrow, punctuated by outbursts of rage. And yet all tightly contained in a meticulously organized score. No wonder Shostakovich saw something of himself in Weinberg.

The seventh string quartet of 1959 marked the first time Weinberg returned to the genre after being jailed for "formalistic and cosmopolitan" tendencies. Shostakovich's intervention eventually secured his release and possibly saved his life.

The quartet has a superficial attractiveness to it, but -- like late Shostakovich -- there's a strong undercurrent of resistance in the work. Albeit, it's buried very, very deep -- but the Silesian Quartet bring it closer to the surface. The result is a performance full of vitality and restless energy.

The quartet has a steely tone, well in keeping with the music. These are performances that connect -- both with the emotional state of the composer and with the listener. While Shostakovich and Weinberg were kindred spirits, Weinberg's music is not just an imitation of his mentor. Weinberg has a unique compositional voice that manages to punch through the restrictions placed on it by Soviet doctrine.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg: String Quartet No. 7, Op. 59; Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 18
Silesian Quartet; Piotr Salajczyk, piano
CD Accord ACD 239-2