I felt a strange urge to update this

Well, it's about time for fall quarter to start here. I just got back from an overall pretty enjoyable 3 weeks in Seattle with my family. For some reason I'm really not looking forward to the start of school... it could be that last year around this time is when my tortured descent into insanity began, or it could be... well yeah, that's probably it. (It could also have something to do with the fact that my summer was relatively fun and relaxing, with two great trips, and that has all come to an end quite suddenly.) The frustrating thing is that I feel nervous and stressed for NO LOGICAL REASON.. I could literally do nothing for the entire quarter other than carry out my TA duties, and be fine. One thing I am looking forward to is to start interacting with my (hopefully) future advisor, and possibly talk to him about the math that I've been working on over the summer. I'm trying to understand some of the more subtle aspects of the so-called McKay correspondence (which was discovered around the 80s and is tied into the long history of Kleinian singularites, Dynkin diagrams, Lie algebras and the symmetry groups of the Platonic solids), and with a little luck and some more work, might be able to publish some of the stuff I've looked at. It would be great to have a published paper in addition to my thesis at the end of grad school. Anyway, I suppose I might start updating this thing a little more regularly in the future.


I'm finding Mompou's "Paisajes" (Landscapes) to be so haunting that I actually may be unable to learn it for the sake of my own well-being.. It's not helping that it's just 7 pages of relatively simple piano music and the dude took 20 years to write it.
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I decided to post this here since Amazon no longer allows anonymous reviews (boo!)

I'm still trying to comprehend the implications of Fredrik Ullen's monumental release of the first 25 of Sorabji's 100 Transcendental Etudes. We had glimpses of Ullen's Sorabji playing in his "Got A Minute" recording of Chopin transcriptions, which contains two typically Sorabjian pastiches on Chopin's Minute Waltz. Sorabji's interpretations of Chopin's rather nonchalant original, especially the technically formidable "Pasticcio Capriccioso", turn the piece into an apocalyptic yet hilarious battle between the pianist and the piano. Ullen's technical command of the piece is incredible, and it's difficult to imagine a better perfomance even from the likes of, say, Marc-Andre Hamelin. Michael Habermann also recorded this piece on a CD of several other Sorabji transcriptions, but I believe Ullen's recording is superior, truly bringing out the scathing humor of the piece.

Ullen's technique is just as amazing on this CD. It's hard to pinpoint even a single slip of the fingers even though several tracks contain passages that basically sound unplayable. The pieces are quite serious however, and even for Sorabji devotees it may take some time to digest all the music here. One does get the feeling that some of the pieces could benefit from slightly softer-edged playing than Ullen usually provides, especially on the slower numbers. It seems like Habermann's softer approach could really bring out the dreamy and imaginative nature of these tracks. However, Ullen's performance of No. 20, one of Sorabji's famous nocturnes and in my opinion the most beautiful of the slow pieces on the disc, is excellent. Ullen's temperament is perfect for other pieces, such as the agitated No. 1, the technically perilous No. 10 and in a lighter vein, Nos. 6, 7 and 9.

Although many of these pieces do not yield their secrets as easily as some of Sorabji's other works, such as, for instance, the pastiches, the nocturne "Le Jardin Parfume" and his earlier "Prelude, Interlude and Fugue" (Habermann's recording of which was what turned me into a disciple), this CD provides practically endless listening opportunities. Though the pieces are rarely easy on the ears, it's pretty much inconceivable that they could ever make you bored. If Ullen succeeds in recording the complete cycle of all 100 etudes, which would span 8 CDs, it would be understatement to say that he is setting a benchmark for all future piano recordings.

2006 - it sucked

It was not a good year for me. I've endured mental states and ups and downs that no one should have to endure. But I'm still alive, and still want to live.

One reviewer said about Lutoslawski's Symphony no.3, one of his better known works, that nothing happens until the end. Someone else responded that this was, in fact, not true - most of the piece is devoted to "filling in the cracks" of the traditional symphony, exploring all the quiet, hidden corners of existence that were considered too undramatic by other composers. This makes the ending, when all the instruments finally come together in an explosive surge of energy, all the more powerful and stunning. In college, and in fact, until very recently, I thought of my life as "filling in the cracks" of my own consciousness, by tapping the seemingly infinite mystery, strangeness and wonder of simple things like cold, wet Seattle nights and walking through the U District or the UW campus, and my memories of the Terry Hall dorm (where I first became acquainted with some of the music that I really respect now, like Lutoslawski). I remember thinking that I could be lost forever in this mysticism. But by itself, this is not life. Carl Jung said that he often saw people become neurotic when they contented themselves with wrong or incomplete answers to the questions of life, and I think that's exactly what happened to me over the course of college. This year has been a violent but necessary jolt to my ways of thinking. From now on, I will try to embrace the realities of human existence in all their sloppiness and imperfection, and I will respect myself and the way I've been all these years, but try to change for the better. (Or at least so that I can stop flipping out so much.)

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Hmm.. it's been a while since I've posted. I guess mostly because socializing with ppl in SD has supplanted my need for journaling in some way or another. So, let me give a rundown of major events from the past few months or so... Read more...Collapse )

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And yes, I resolve to talk to that girl tomorrow if I see her again. I WILL NOT GIVE UP. Thank you my friend; I love you. (Borat quote)