Langrée Conducts Mozart


As a student of counterpoint, I am in awe of the last movement of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony.  It is not just that it ends with a fugue combining all the motifs from earlier in the movement; there are lots of amazing fugues in the repertoire.  But this fugue is so effortless!  To the casual listener, it is simply a delightful, lively finale.  The detail, though there in plain sight for anyone who cares to notice, is woven into the texture so naturally that it doesn’t sound complex at all, and the whole movement seems to spring forth effervescently.

However, Langrée takes it a such a breathtaking speed that there is no opportunity to savor this detail.  True, it is marked Molto Allegro, and the orchestra can play it at this incredible tempo, and do so with grace. The effervescence was there, but the detail that I find so marvelous was so crammed together that it became clutter, lost in the large scale sweep and technical virtuosity of the performance.

They played two Mozart symphonies in C major; the great (Jupiter, no. 41) and the little (no. 34).  Though I complain only about the final finale, I found all of the tempi on the fast side. To be honest, most top conductors today would side with Langrée’s tempi: it is as if the mark of a really fine orchestra were how quickly they can run through the well known classics.  In this performance, occasionally, the charm of Mozart came through .  For example, in the trio of the minuet in the Jupiter Symphony, there was a delightful little pause in the beat, not too much to spoil the dance, as the oboe and strings began their little melody.  However, too often, such delights were lost in the full head of steam, as Langrée barreled through.  The technical brilliance of the orchestra notwithstanding, I would have enjoyed the evening more if Langrée had given us more time to luxuriate in the elegance and grace of Mozart.

If you really want to go that fast, I suggest Rossini.

Andre Previn Conducting  Loredo Robinson

Between the symphonies, they featured a world premiere by André Previn, a double concerto for violin and cello, played by Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson.   I am pleased that this orchestra has participated in commissioning a new work, and I think that composers who have served the movie business also have something to offer the classical concert literature.  Previn’s varied career certainly qualifies him to receive such a commission.  However, I do not expect this particular piece to enter the repertoire.   Previn’s writing for the soloists, though romantic in tone, seemed strained and a bit awkward, especially in the first movement.  He is more comfortable with the full orchestra, where his writing was colorful and imaginative.  Previn’s skill at sketching a mood was well displayed, but the mood kept changing, and I did not get much of a sense of direction or inspiration.

If you want to commission a movie composer, I suggest John Williams.

CSO Violins  I have on occasion been worried that my reviews would become boring variations on “Oh, what a marvelous orchestra!”.  So I am grateful to have something to complain about.

It is still a marvelous orchestra.

The Democrats’ Lost Opportunity


“It’s the economy, stupid”.  But not this year.

The economy is doing so well that even Forbes magazine, hardly a friend to the Democrats, declared, “Obama Outperforms Reagan On Jobs, Growth and Investing”.  Nevertheless,  Republicans all over the country, ably assisted by Fox News, were able to mount successful campaigns founded simply on “Obama, Bad”.  Bizarrely, many Democrats apparently agreed. Instead of countering the Republican disinformation with the very real achievements of the last few years, many Democrats ran away from the president, treating him like a pariah.

Allison Lundergan Grimesmeet-mitch-m

For example, in south western Ohio, we were subjected to the dueling ads of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes.  McConnell’s job approval rating was even worse than Obama’s, so there was a reason for the Democrats to get excited about her prospects.  But the campaign was ridiculous. McConnell spent his time chaining Grimes to Obama and bashing the president. Grimes countered McConnell’s “Obama, Bad” with “McConnell, Worse”, though she seemed to agree with McConnell on the things that mattered, such as guns and coal, and even on how bad Obama was.  Grimes put as much distance between herself and Obama as she could, to the point of refusing to say whether or not she voted for Obama in the last election.  The whole strategy was based on the voters ignoring her party affiliation: it was doomed to failure.

The Republicans and their allies at Fox News are very skillful.   After six years of constantly undermining Obama, occasionally  pointing out real missteps, but more often resorting to half truths and outright fabrications,  they have succeeded in convincing many Americans that Obama is a disaster.

However, the Republicans are not just character assassins: they have an agenda.  Concerning the changing climate, they advocate a head in the sand approach, ignoring or denying the evidence that human activity is having any effect.  In economics, the Republicans subscribe to a “trickle down” policy that first protects the “job creators”, anticipating that the bounty will eventually reach the rest of the economy.  We have had over 30 years of experience since this approach was introduced, the evidence is that it benefits only the wealthy. I could go on, but that is not the point.  The Republicans have candidates who stand for something, and even when these candidates loose, they affect the debate and the direction of the country.

What is most galling about the Grimes campaign and others like it is that it does not really stand for anything.  It wastes an opportunity to present a clear alternative to the bone headed policies advocated by the Republicans.  As a result, the voters drift a little further off course.

The Bush administration, starting from a booming economy and a budget surplus, drove the economy into near collapse.  The Obama administration, despite Republican attempts to sabotage everything he did, succeeded in rebuilding the economy.  Employment is up, and the stock market is at record highs.  This is the kind of success the party should be embracing, not running away from.  The Democrats should be running on their vision for the future, like they did so successfully in 2008.  Then, even if they had lost a midterm election where the prospects were rather dim, they would have had an impact on the long term.  Instead, they ran away from their strength and offered nothing but bluster.  It is no wonder the well oiled, well financed, Republican machine rolled them over.

This year, the Democrats lost more than an election, they lost an opportunity to shape the debate among the American people. In this election, the Democrats deserved defeat.

Hamilton County 2014 Election: the Judges


Fanon Rucker

In 2010, I was so mad at the nonsense being spouted by the so-called Tea Party that I voted the straight Democratic ticket, without examining any details, just like those “Yellow Dog” Democrats I grew up with in the south. The reality was that I did not have the time to research the candidates carefully, so I relied blindly on the recommendations of the party.

Thus, I voted for Tracie Hunter. She won an extremely close election, so close that it was held up in the courts for a year.  So, my vote mattered.  She proved to be a terrible choice.  Less than two years after taking office, she was indicted on nine felony counts, including theft in office, tampering with evidence, and unlawful interest in a public contract.  The jury reached a verdict on only one of the counts, but her stormy tenure on the court is over.

This year, I am taking the time to make informed choices.   However, in the local judicial races, useful information is not that easy to find, and there are a lot of judgeships to vote on.  Impartiality and fairness, the qualities that you want in a judge, do not bring a person notoriety.   For state supreme, bar associations take the trouble to publish evaluations, but, as far as I know, such are not available at the county level.  I end up making judgements based on their resume and their writing style.  Here are my choices for the contested races:

Court of Appeals (1st District)
  • Russell Mock (Rep)
  • Fanon. A. Rucker (Dem, i)  better qualified
Court of Common Pleas
  • Patrick Dinkelacker (Rep)    better qualified
  • John M. Mereness (Dem)
Court of Common Pleas
  • Pat Foley  (Dem)
  • Carl Stich, Jr. (Rep, i)   better qualified

    Ohio Superlawyers, Top 100 in Ohio for 2010

Court of Common Pleas
  • Jerry Metz  (Dem, i)        better qualified
  • Charles Miller  (Rep)
Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division
  • Jennifer Branch (Dem)  

    Branch’s law practice specializes in cases involving employment discrimination, civil rights, police misconduct, and women’s reproductive rights.

  • John M. Williams (Rep, incumbent, appointed by Kasich)
Court of Common Pleas (Probate Division)
  • Charlie Luken (Dem)
  • Ralph Winkler (Rep, i)  more qualified

    2008: Judge of the Year – Hamilton County Trial Lawyers Association

Court of Common Pleas (Domestic Relations)
  • Ray Pater (Dem)     my recommendation 

    currently Attorney/Executive Director Metro Child Support Agency

  • Amy Searcy (Rep,  incumbent appointed by Kasich)

    endorsed by Right to Life

Here are my main sources of information

Since it is late, I don’t have time to write up my choices for the rest of the local ballot.  However, they are pretty simple.

For the legislators, vote Democrat.

For Hamilton County Commissioner, James Tarbell, a write-in candidate.

For county auditor, Dusty Rhodes, (Dem)

For School Board, Pat Bruns.

For the issues, just say “Yes.”

I hope you find this helpful.  Even if you disagree with me completely, vote!