Aug 29

Die Zauberflöte WA Mozart by H. von Karajan and Wiener Philharmoniker

The performance was made in 1950, soon after the war, and at the support of Walter Legge from EMI.

The recording was technically the best possible for 1950, and still has a warmth that is appropriate. This recording omits the dialogue, thus shortening the work, but certainly not diminuting the piece. It is a young Karajan, with a touch an warmth that few Magic Flutes’s since have experienced, including Karajan’s later production of the same piece. This is a valuable piece to all Zauberflöte collectors.

 

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Aug 29

Lulu, by Alban Berg, with Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Andrew Davis????

This opera, written by the Viennese composer Alban Berg, represents the life of a society hostess, in her rise and fall to eventual murder. A tragic tale, the music was most fitting to the piece, though often in a serial or atonal style. The opera was by Mozartian standards a bit strange, yet was completely fitting for expectations of 20th century works. If you are not familiar with 20th century opera and expect standard solos, duets, ensembles, etc., this piece will not fare well with you. Certainly the lead role of Lulu, performed by Christine Schäfer, was impeccably done, with a very demanding and challenging part performed  to perfection and with greatest finesse. Christine herself gets 5 stars. The opera itself gets only 4 stars from me, not because of any performance problems, but only because 20th century serialism is not exactly my favorite cup of tea, while the plot and story line itself focused on the gutter elements in society, not exactly transcending the soul to greater thoughts and loftier ambitions.

 

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Aug 28

The Chopin Collection, by Artur Rubinstein ???

This is not a bad collection, and certainly worth the price. Some of the recordings have not been well cleaned up, and still have very prominent record scratch, serving as a major distraction. I suppose that those noises were left in the delight the ever persisting insistence of vinyl-philiacs that records indeed are a better media for storing musical sound than CDs. Bless their hearts. I have complete sets of Idel Biret (a female Turkish pianist), and Ashkenazy. Ashkenazy is definitely the best of all the sets, with Biret coming in second and Rubinstein third. I also have single CDs of Horowitz on Chopin, which are absolutely superb, and Perahia, also superlative. Rubinstein is mechanically a master of the art of Chopin keyboarding. Though Wikipedia introduces him as “widely considered as one of the greatest piano virtuosi of the 20th century”, I don’t think so, and it was a label afixed more out of his Hollywood popularity rather than his interpretative abilities, and others in the 20th century, such as Horowitz, Brendel, and Ashkenazy had a much greater sensitivity to interpretive qualities of a piece than I ever find in Artur R. For Chopin, I would recommend the Ashkenazy set, or better yet, pick up individual pieces, such as Horowitz’s “My Favorite Chopin”.

 

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Aug 25

It’s been a busy but wet August, probably one of the wettest that I can remember. I did a moderate amount of training for the Portland Century, but often had to fight the nasty rain. The Portland Century was dry, but it started raining quite heavily as soon as we completed the ride. You can read about the Portland Century in the “Bike Rides” section. I noted that after riding the Century, there were those that had done only 25-50 very flat miles, and were struggling to get up a very mild hill on Broadway in downtown Portland as it goes south. Oddly, that would have been me a year ago. Fortunately, except for minor leg cramping, I couldn’t have felt better on this ride. Other outdoor activities have been limited by the amount of rain that we’ve had.

The top photo shows progress in the construction of the hospital addition. Note the cloudy skies in late August. The construction goes on feverishly, rain or shine.

You might notice that I rearranged my website to make my other events more accessible. In particular, I added a number of movie reviews, music reviews, book reviews, a pitifully failed hike, besides my bicycle rides, to the respective pages.

After great reflection in the past month I probably will NOT
a) hike the complete PCT at one time ever
b) ride my bicycle completely around America ever
c) sail all the seven seas ever
This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to do some serious hiking or cycling. I’d like to get a real touring bicycle (Cannondale Touring I), and possibly a real road bike someday-I’m currently looking at a bicycle that would be a Torelli frame with Campagnolo Chorus components, and Campagnolo Eurus wheels. There is a shop in Tacoma that assembles the bicycle for you if you buy their components, and they are reasonably cheap.

My heart is becoming increasingly desirous of
a)  doing time in a foreign hospital, the current list being possibly China, Bangladesh, or Cameroon. Any would work for me, and hopefully, Betsy and I could try out several places.
b) spending more time in Europe, especially Germany, possibly taking language classes, and hopefully having a decent bicycle to ride around Europe with.
c) taking a break from American medicine. I’ve never felt more at peace about a decision than when I decided to check out of my practice for a while. I am absolutely decided not to continue practice with call at Good Samaritan Hospital, or any other hospital in the US without adequate compensation and limited work hours (less than 12 hours/day) on call. I don’t think that will happen soon at GSH. So far, my group has agreed to allow me to drop to courtesy privileges at GSH as of 01NOV08, and then take a 1 year Sabbatical during the 2009 calendar year. This will give me opportunity to explore a) and b) above, and to also consider what to do with the rest of my life.

 

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Aug 24

24AUG2008 –

At last! My last scheduled ride for the year. And, in one of my favorite places, Portland, Oregon. The ride looped around the greater east Portland area, and in spots often quite familiar to me. Many of the bicycle trails were completely new to me, such as the Springwater trail, and the trail along the Columbia River. The ride was offered in 25, 50, and 100 mile versions, with the 100 mile version offering the only real hills on the ride. Of course, Lucas Anderson and I did the full Century. This was probably my hardest century, the hills being tedious but never completely undoable. There were really three serious hills, all occurring before the half-way mark of 50 miles. Interestingly, one hill that used to kill me as a kid, the ride up out of the Sandy River basin right at the end of Stark St. really wasn’t too bad at all, and we kept a 8-10 mph pace on that hill, all the way up past Mt. Hood Comm. College. Fascinating areas from places as a kid was going through the Sellwood area, riding out Johnson Creek, riding around Dabney State Park on the Sandy River, going by Blue Lake park where we used to swim as kids, riding the Columbia past the airport, and riding around U of Portland. All of these areas brought back vivid memories, but were not like I remembered them as a youngster. The total time was 7.5 hours of riding and rest. We did quite well, and my only problem was a little more severe cramping than ever. Here are photos of Lucas and myself at the half-way point, on the top of the last big hill. We really didn’t look terribly tired.

The ride was mostly downhill or flat from here, with other hills, such as the Stark St. Hill, that really were minor. All in all, Lucas and I had a great time with beautiful weather. Interestingly, coming back was terrible weather, and traffic along I-5 had slowed to <10 mph from before Chehalis to the Nisqually basin.

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