Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Review)

Eagerly Awaiting Season Two, January 10, 2016
By Ed Luhrs

This review is from: The Man In The High Castle - Season 1 (click HERE for link)

I always wondered how an adaptation of The Man in the High Castle would look. This first season exceeded what I could imagine. It expands on the novel fantastically, in ways that have me wondering what’s next - especially after the trade minister wakes from his little nap in the park. Satirical twists and paradoxes are what Philip K. Dick’s work is all about. If you don’t get that, you might have a hard time here. As for me, I watched the pilot a few weeks ago and the other nine episodes all in one shot. I understand binge-watching is a thing these days, but this show is really something else, from the cinematography, costumes, and settings to the choice of music and the casting. I couldn’t hold back.

I hate to dock it even a star, but the writers need to work on the dialogue a little and get the characters’ decision-making skills tightened up a notch in spots. The acting more than makes up for it. Juliana and Frank are quite good actors, though as characters they’re the two who need to work on making better choices the most. Joe Blake is AOK. He’s listening to Brucker’s 5th on the truck radio in the pilot: that’s a crafty bit that foreshadows which side he supposed to be on if you know your history. (Poor Bruckner was one of the Reich’s favorites.) Trade Minister Tagomi is a favorite character of mine, though what’s going through his mind in the series is largely still a mystery to the audience. Chief Inspector Kido is like the character from Mishima’s Patriotism, ready for death before dishonor. Wegener’s story line is brilliant, and Obergruppenführer Smith… wow. What an actor, up there with Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones in the hall of bad guy greats.

As for one-star reviewers, I can accept if the grim style didn’t catch them. I can accept that some were excessively irritated by one-too-many dopey decisions made by some of the characters. I can accept their being squeamish about violence. I can also accept if they don’t like though-provoking literature and slept through history class in high school or even if they think everything written today is part of some liberal conspiracy. Some people really can’t help themselves. But I absolutely won’t accept people complaining about potty language and sex. Stop it already. In this series there is almost none of either, and still the complaints. I cannot stomach the righteous. I’m deeply thankful for every great foul-mouthed, doggie-styled work of cinema, music, and art that offends them.

From what I see, the story arc will build on Dick’s genius and do it proud. I guarantee some wild stuff is ahead. With the overwhelming number of the 52,000+ reviews being positive, I think we’re looking at some recording-breaking viewership next season. I couldn’t be happier.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Rockwell Automation

Here's the kind of guy you need to sell the Illudium Q-36 Space Modulator.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Water Street

A new composition for baritone ukulele... by Ed Luhrs!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vocal Playlist with Notes

Happy spring! It has been a long time. I'll leave off excuses and just give some brief, choppy notes for the playlist above along with some links to lyrics and other stuff:

1. Second piece in Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne (in Provençal). Frederica von Stade, soprano.
2. Hymnus Amoris. A complete joy of a composition. Denmark's own... Carl Nielsen.
3. Veljo Tormis, Estonian. From Forgotten Peoples, one of my all-time favorite choral works. The text of the larger work is in a number of near-extinct languages related to Finnish and Estonian.
4. The opening of Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610). Latin.
5. Medieval music in Catalan. Read the video's liner notes on this one!!! Jordi Savall conducts. The singer is Montserrat Figueras. I wrote about this before HERE.
6. Swedish folk tune “When I Was Eighteen” sung by Elina. Here is a very good sung translation:
7. Jean Sibelius, Finland. This is from the Kalevala. Lyrics and translation are in comments. Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano.
8. Strauss. The last of the Vier letzte Lieder… classic version!
9. Anúna, arr. Michael McGlynn. This piece uses a choral technique called heterophony.
10. William Walton. Wild. This sounds like a really good version.
11. From Herbert von Karajan’s version of Haydn’s Creation from the late sixties. Gundula Janowitz is one of my favs.
12. Karajan conducting Bruckner well may be no surprise, but wow is this good. Check out the finale of this piece (last minute or two) – it is memorable experience.
13. Pretty sure this is the Charles Dutoit/Montreal version – from Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé.
14. Kathleen Battle ends Mahler 4 perfectly. (Max Emanuel Cenčić too – both great interpretations…)
15. Take a trip to the 13th c. with Jordi Savall. The man is a wizard. In Galician/Portuguese -
16. Folk tune from Finland. The Finnish language puts stress on first syllables – always makes for awesome a cappella music.
17. Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil. Russian Orthodox music - gives me chills.
18. Gustav Holst.
19. Still Gustav Holst. The Hymn of Jesus is a really really awesome work – some chant text in the beginning, then it gets all sorts of fun. Great orchestration. Great article here: Text begins on pg. 17 here:
20. Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass is a really bizarre and thoroughly engaging 20th c. work that uses Old Church Slavonic text –
21. A cappella version of the Cantigas (see track 15) from Alfonso X’s court. Sequentia is tops – love their album Edda.
22. The Otto Klemperer version with Christa Ludwig. This is the last movement of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. A 19th c. German translation of medieval Chinese poetry by Hans Bethge. I would have put THIS version first because of Janet Baker being so perfect and the impeccable woodwind sound that the Concertgebouw gives, but in Klemperer’s version, you can hear the mandolin at the end. I think that’s important. Either one gets me teary-eyed.
23. Handel aria from Kathleen Ferrier’s last recording. She was dying of breast cancer when she sang this. What a deep and powerful voice! All-time favorite.
24. The last part of Faure’s Requiem, sweet and gentle -
25. The conclusion of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. John Barbirolli conducts, Janet Baker sings. The text by Newman is poetically challenged in oh so many ways, but the “be brave and patient, brother dear” ending together with the final “praise to the holiest in the height” chorus in this performance is something else. This needed to be the concluding piece of the playlist.