The Galaxy – Breathing in a new mentality – if Hendrix counts as a new mentality

Cover of "Lost in the Sound of Separation...

Cover of Lost in the Sound of Separation

We started the evening with some UnderOath.  Listening to their material is so much fun for me because their music has such a scorched earth mentality, yet at the same time their lyrics break through the emotional haze with at times striking clarity.  They take interesting chances with their music, with thick layers of chordal harmonies on top of intriguing rhythmic departures from the groove.  So, we heard Breathing in a New Mentality (from Lost in the Sound of Separation), In Division (from Disambiguation), The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed, Vacant Mouth, and My Deteriorating Incline.  Naturally, we are saddened to hear of their decision to disband, but we can enjoy their legacy.

Cover of "Axis: Bold As Love"

Cover of Axis: Bold As Love

It has been a while since I’ve played some Jimi Hendrix, so we heard some live Hendrix tonight, from the Winterland box set.  From the October 12, 1968 set, we heard Manic Depression, Sunshine of Your Love, Little Wing, Spanish Castle Magic (both interesting selections, as Hendrix did not often play material from Axis Bold As Love), and Red House.

I find it appropriate that we follow Hendrix with late ’60s era Miles Davis, not just because they shared a similar mentality that crossed musical genres, but also because there apparently had been some discussion of the two getting together.  At one point there apparently was agreement for a $50,000 advance to Miles in exchange for studio time, but it never came together, and then Jimi ultimately passed away.  It could be agonizing to imagine the sort of material that would have come out of such a collaboration.  So, I find it extremely fitting to follow ’68 Hendrix with ’69 Miles Davis, Shhh/Peaceful from In A Silent Way.

We then heard a few Beatles cuts, starting with a song that my girlfriend brought to mind with her complaints about a “hole” in her head.  So we played Fixing A Hole, from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, followed by The Night Before and You’re Gonna Lose That Girl, both from Help.

Basset clarinet in A, anonymous, perhaps Frenc...

Basset clarinet in A, anonymous, perhaps French, probably late 19th century, cocus. Presumably made for a performance of La Clemenza di Tito. Philip Bate loan. Photographed at the Bate Collection at the University of Oxford. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We closed tonight’s show with an exquisite piece of music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622.  It was composed in 1791, the year of his death, thus becoming one of his last compositions, and his last purely instrumental composition.  Mozart wrote the piece for the noted clarinetist Anton Stadler, who used a special clarinet that featured an extended range in the lower register (going down to low C, as opposed to stopping at low E like most clarinets).  While the concerto had been for years edited to transpose the unusual notes back to the normal clarinet range, recent musicology has revealed the extent to which Mozart wrote the piece for the extended-range clarinet (generally referred to as a basset clarinet), and in fact this concerto may in fact be the most significant piece written for the basset clarinet.

The recent interest in performance with authentic instruments has inspired instrument makers to produce basset clarinets, and devices that can turn standard clarinets into basset clarinets.  However, I suspect that tonight’s recording, a 1972 edition by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, directed by Sir Neville Marriner, and with Jack Brymer featured on clarinet, might not be using a basset clarinet (there is no documentation on the matter, one way or the other).

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