Igudesman & Joo Will Entertain You!

Probably the most popular pioneers in the neglected genre of Classical Comedy Duo! “A Little Nightmare Music” is one of those programs you can watch over and over again and laugh every time. Your abs will thank you for the workout after watching Igudesman & Joo’s slapstick skits that break the “stone wall” of the concert hall. The audience is absolutely involved and enjoying every second.The Classical world really needed these guys and they perform all the humor with virtuosity. They’re both real world-class musicians and I appreciate it so much that they ditched the stoic concert life for one that reflects how classical musicians are behind the scenes. Really! We know how to have fun!

Ah, I heart them.

Milos, Classical Guitarist + Mediterranean God

Ladies and Gents, I think I’ve hit gold. Did it get hot in here, or is it just me? Oh my, this one is a keeper. Classical guitar may just be one of the sexiest arts ever. The dexterity involved is so incredibly obvious and the repertoire is infallible. And that’s just classical guitar in general. Get specific with Miloš and I think the sexiness factor just upped a little bit.
Miloš is a Montenegrin guitarist educated at the prestigious Royal Academy in London. Besides his good looks, another reason to admire him is his involvement in breaking the “bubble” around the world of classical guitar and putting it on the bigger map of the classical music world. Everyone knows classical music rockstars like Joshua Bell or Yo-Yo Ma, but ask about guitarists and most likely you’ll hear some mumblings like”Segovia..? Didn’t Paganini play some?” Partly, I think it’s because guitar has kind of been given a bad rep from classical musicians, it’s kind of given a “heathen” kind of attitude from the classical realm for a variety of reasons, one of them probably being the fault of string players who look at the instrument, see frets, and turn up their noses in disdain. I think this is rude, because, though I don’t know much about playing guitar, I can see and hear that it requires a lot of ability to play separate voicings smoothly  and cleanly, so it’s kind of like playing Bach exclusively in a variety of styles (at least to this ignorant violinist). Anyways, I hope in the future, classical guitar can become a bigger feature/involvement in the orchestral, or chamber, or even solo worlds of classical music.

Miloš is just the guy that classical music needs right now. He’s young, handsome, and very passionate about his art. He is a great ambassador in the effort to keep the ways of classical music alive and kicking in these dark times. So he’s young and you can hear the vivacity in his playing a bit too much, but the greats always mellow out with age, and Miloš makes up for it with his great performer presence. His playing is a little bit too rubato but it’s still clear, and his oozy romantic-ness may be more likeable to others. Small criticisms aside, I will definitely be adding this artist to my watchlist! Please come to America sometime!

Check him out here. (No worries, there IS a gallery!)

Piazzolla, Please

Piazzolla never disappoints, but this piece is on a new level of sexiness even for Piazzolla. Rachlin is definitely playing like an Argentinian in the throes of tango, and it’s a pleasure to listen and watch. The aesthetic factor is one I think is too-often neglected in live performances, but Rachlin may have just made up for the rest of the world’s statue violinists, it also doesn’t hurt that he is major eye-candy. Rachlin deserves as many fangirls as Joshua Bell, for sure. He captures the tango spirit so well.

Although Piazzolla is not “classical” music of the norm, he is mostly performed by classical musicians, and I find this sometimes leads to stiff interpretations that are ultra-clean but lack the passion and depth of tango. Four Seasons of Buenos Aires is an homage to Vivaldi that takes the famous Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, puts a strappy black dress on it, and challenges the violin to bring the dancer to life. Tango is fire and pleasure and pain.

I wish I could post twenty smatherings of Piazzolla at a time, but I will attempt to restrain myself.

Check out Julian Rachlin here. He is a quality human being. (Warning: You will develop a major crush.)

The Butcher Knives

Whoo! Here are some real entertainers! They followed me on my much-neglected Twitter, and I was immediately interested, so I searched ’em up. I really dig the bluegrass influence with the banjo and the gypsy guitar. I am impressed and wish them much success as they grow in artistry and popularity. However, the band name does not make for fun search results, as I had to dig to find videos that weren’t actual meat butchering tutorials. Hopefully, that too will change when they are the absolute #1 search result for “Butcher Knives” and the raw-meat handling tutorials will be the background to their glory. Their music reminds me a lot of Gogol Bordello, who are one of my favorite groups to see live, and I hope I’ll have a chance to see the Butcher Knives live sometime soon! They’ve only one music video on Youtube right now, but I look forward to seeing more in the future. Other suggestions I would make is to seek out a fiddler (cough cough, I’ll play for y’all!). But seriously, violin is present in all of the styles the Butcher Knives profess to be influences, but I don’t hear any face-melting fiddle solos! Sergey from Gogol Bordello would be disappointed!

Lack of violin aside, this group is young and emerging and I can’t wait to see them grow into a group as ground-breaking as Gogol.I am particularly excited to see where their style takes them, and am interested in seeing a ballad/more mellow style song soon.

I know what I’m listening to on my run!

From Russia, With Daft Punk

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI9nFOzz1t8]

I’ve got to confess, I’ve got the entire Red Army Choir discography in my library, and it’s all good stuff. I am a sucker for folk music and Russian male choirs. Oh, and men in uniform. This is great. It’s funny, cause them Soviet disco shoulder moves and they’re all excellent, excellent singers. No super-techno effects on the voices, these guys capture Daft Punk in a whole new light. Great Sochi opening act, too! Да-ft Punk!

True Blues Aussies

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbFzjzEcHAo]

This is a great song for this cold, cold weather. In fact, I sing it to myself every time I wake up and am forced to abandon the 3 large blankets that kept me from getting hypothermia over night. All right, so the cold isn’t that drastic inside, but sometimes it does feel like that, and this song puts it into music for me. I’ll Surely Die is a sexy, blues-y rock that just wants you to unleash your inner cowboy and smoke a Marlboro with your finger on the trigger at your latest stand-off. The Rubens are an Australian blues rock band that capture the old spirit of blues rock and twist it for today. They have the HD sound with just the right amount of artificial effects paired with the soul of the past. Recently they’ve gotten exposure from being the opening song for an episode of The CW show, Supernatural.  Well deserved feature for them.

In the future, I can see these guys maybe sharing the same amount of stardom as say Muse or Coldplay if they eat their wheaties and floss everyday. Let’s hope their sound and style won’t suffer as a result.

Check The Rubens out here! Rubens Official

Movin’ with Movits!

What more could a girl ask for? Good-looking Scandinavian guys rapping, saxing, and swinging! Movits! (Yes, the exclamation point is part of the name), is a three-man group from Sweden that has a truly unique style. Sammy Davis Jr. may not show it as much, but these boys mix all that’s best of hip hop, swing, blues, even reggae. Frontman Johan’s flow is simply pristine. Then there’s Anders the DJ/Multi-instrumentalist, and Joakim the saxophonist. Saxophonist. Cool combo groups popping up all over the place! I’ve seen him mostly playing on a tenor, and he’s killin’ it. Svenska really lends itself to rap, I think. I’d really like them to tour the U.S. soon. Them Swedes got soul.

Here’s a more mellow track from Movits!

Baby Got Bach

Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006 (J.S. Bach)
Hilary Hahn, solo violin

Hilary Hahn is the Queen of Bach! Her Loure is incredible! Her playing is so clean and tasteful. She’s not one of those big meaty sounds, her style is much more elegant and intimately passionate. She is certainly an inspiration as an artist and also as a person. I saw her in concert in 2010 (Bach, of course!) , and she blew me away. I got a CD signed and she was absolutely lovely and gracious, perhaps even demure. She definitely hasn’t fallen into the “holier than thou” philosophy of some musicians. Hilary is definitely a gem in today’s virtuosi rank fiddlers.

Bach created some of the most demanding pieces in the repertoire, works that require incredible maturity in technique and showmanship. Mastering the unaccompanied works, 6 Sonatas and Partitas, is probably the ultimate rite of passage for violinists. My friends and I used to joke that Bach took an entire orchestra score and condensed it into a piece for solo violin. Even the greatest masters have had awkward hiccups with Bach. But Bach is Hilary’s thang, so I’m willing to bet her interpretations are among the most hiccup-less. Of course, one thing that makes Bach so difficult is that you have to keep in mind that Baroque instruments were different, as were general techniques used at the time. I’ve heard magnificent violinists totally butcher Bach because frankly, their playing was too complex. All right, so playing a chord that looks like you need 12 fingers to play it is pretty complex, but to play in the spirit of Baroque, you have to make it sound like gilded chambers and courtly grace – save the huge portamento and love-sick vibrato for Sibelius. To capture the Baroque style as effortlessly and beautifully as Hilary does it is gold for ears.

When I grow up, I wanna be just like Hilary Hahn.

Lush & Lovely

One of my favorite interpretations of Finlandia. I can see the ruggedness and serenity of the Scandinavian wilderness in the exposition and as the piece develops, there’s a big, happy feeling of pride and glory. Petrenko is a premier conductor, if a bit bigoted. Oh, the Russians.

The irony is that Sibelius may have never written this if it weren’t for the Russians, as the tone poem itself was a protest against Russian censorship. I think of it a Shosty 5 without the death and terror. (cause Shosty’s great, but let’s be real, he wasn’t a happy fellow)

I mean, here’s Sibelius. Smiling Romantic composer who basically put Finland on the map for music.
Happy Sibelius w. cigar

Here’s Shosty. Lookin’ like Harry Potter who never got the Hogwarts letter.
Dmitri is unhappy.