A Raft

June 24, 2012 at 8:12 AM | Posted in Meditation, Personal Development | Leave a comment
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Jim and Huck

I am struck by so many of the Buddha’s teachings but most of all that his words are not something to be followed nor are they necessarily the truth. He says that they are a raft that can take us from illusion to understanding.

Once there, we leave the raft, and the words, behind.

Gunnar Johansen, where to start?

June 19, 2012 at 4:18 PM | Posted in Music, Piano, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The pianist Gunnar Johansen was a completest’s completest. There are some pianists and Sviatoslav Richter, one of the greatest of all time, comes to mind who are famous for not completing cycles. In Richter’s case, he did not record all of Beethoven’s sonatas and only three of his concerto’s. Given a long career and companies waiting in line to record him, this speaks to his mindset and his temperament.

But Johansen recorded all of Bach (as did Gould, more or less) and 51 albums of Liszt (did Gould play any except the Beethoven Symphony transcriptions?), 7 LPs of Busoni and all of, the famous for being a great pianist, Ignaz Friedman.

A reader of my prior post introducing Johansen asked if I had a recommendation as to where to start with him. I am new to him and his recording and so I am not the one to ask – and yet I have an answer. Just recently the Johansen Trust has issued a CD with a wonderful representation of the great pianist’s works. Here you will find:

  • Johansen’s own transcription of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor
  • a 1928 recording (in very good sound) of CPE Bach’s Rondo in G Major
  • Liszt: After a Lecture of Dante (tremendous)
  • Busoni’s Variations on Chopin’s C Minor Prelude
  • Pearl Harbor Sonata by Johansen and completed the day before the bombing!
  • Friedman’s transcription of Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits
  • Chopin’s Black Key etude, again from the far-off year of 1928

Ah, now you must have it? Click here and you will find your way. Sometimes an Amazon click does not do a treasure justice.

Gunnar Johansen

June 16, 2012 at 7:52 PM | Posted in Connections, Music, Piano | 2 Comments
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Gunnar Johansen,  a Dane, a pianist who came to the United States in 1929 and died in 1991 at 85 in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, outside of Madison, where he was Artist in Residence for many years at the University there, made 150 recordings, including the complete keyboard works of Bach and 51 (!) Liszt recordings.

Johansen composed 750 works.

Prior to three weeks ago I had not heard of him. Here is the string of events: David Dubal played something by Johansen on his show, The Piano Matters. He mentioned that he had once met him and that he was a great gentleman. That struck me and I looked him up on Arkiv, the Amazon of classical music, and came up light. I googled and found that he had made an enormous number of recordings and they were available from The Artist Direct in Blue Mounds. I sent an email and for a few days, silence. Then James Colias contacted me. His is the trustee of the Gunnar and Lorraine Johansen Charity Trust and — I was in luck – he had just arrived in Blue Mounds and could help me.

He did. Mr. Colias is a former student and friend of Johansen and he was wonderful on the phone. I ordered (though that is too strong a word) a number of recordings, mainly LPs with one CD (and Mr. Colias gave me one as a gift), and they arrived just yesterday. I’ve listened to the first album of Liszt and I am enchanted.

These are my first steps on a new path of discovery and connection. Another world has opened its door to me.

What is a ‘za to do?

June 13, 2012 at 7:45 PM | Posted in Baseball, Food | Leave a comment
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Imagine Casey Stengel, after managing the magnificent Yankees of The Clipper, Mickey, Yogi, Whitey, Roger, Elston, Moose, Billy, Allie, Eddie, Old Reliable, Cletus, the Scooter, now managing the hapless Mets and looking down his bench, and looking down once again, to find no one who could play the game. Now imagine me, in my sixth year in the Auburn Hills/Rochester area, thinking of where to have dinner.

And yet, and yet.

Fresco’s is a great pizzeria with pies that a New Yorker would wait in line for. A pie that would not cause looks in Siena. And yet, there are no lines, no crowds. My concern, it is true, is selfish.

Have you eyes and do not see? Taste buds but do not taste?

Remembering Jacqueline du Pré

June 9, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Posted in Cello, Music | Leave a comment
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There are artists who burned so brightly, who made such a tremendous impression from the beginning that it seems beyond credibility that they died so young – but that is if they died, which they haven’t.

I write now of the English cellist Jacqueline Du Pré and I will write later of that other wonder, the singer Kathleen Ferrier. EMI has just released Du Pre’s complete recordings for that label and in those 17 discs we have virtually all of her but, of course, they just touch upon her life force, upon the moments she played before the microphones.

In the film, Jacqueline du Pre in Portrait, we see her play Elgar’s Cello Concerto, the King Lear of concertos, with her husband Daniel Barenboim conducting. It is here, for me, that the chills of recognition and emotion strike (YouTube). A more open, effusive, rich, deep, connected, touching, scorching performance is not conceivable.

She was struck with Multiple Sclerosis at the top of her powers at 26 years old. This is true but misleading. She was always the tops, as the great ones are, and has never been silenced.

(In a minute-by-minute age of novelty and yet endless repetition, there are yet things that are virtually a secret, yet sublime: the 17 CD complete Jacqueline sells for $54. new. This includes the Elgar she recorded at 20 with Sir John Barbirolli, always considered one of the greatest recordings of all time, which is worth trillions).

Strokesaver tip: Letting go of tactics

June 5, 2012 at 7:37 PM | Posted in Annals of Sales | Leave a comment
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This is a note I recently sent our Team. The occasion was the end of a sales period. I suggested, that if a customer failed to subscribe and it was a surprise either to us or to the customer, we should consider the following:

  1. Let go of tactics.
  2. Let go of the tactic of letting go of tactics.

What should we do? See above

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