Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Golden Compass

Just finished reading Phillip Pullman's page-turner "The Golden Compass." My daugther tells me she read it in sixth grade. Well, it wasn't written yet when I was in sixth grade. Regardless, it's a fabulously engrossing story written for any age with all the ingredients that books that have complete worlds within have. The richness of detail and likable and detestable characters along with the exotica that usually pops up in any good tale. I read this book in two sittings and it is compelling all on its own. Now I'll have to go back to finishing up "Last Temptation of Christ" which I thought I was reading first until I read the first chapter of this book. I don't know if I'll read about the rest of Lyras travels but this first bit was fun.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

I went to see director Ken Loach's new epic on the Irish revolution on Sunday. The age old story of brother pitted against brother is recast yet again. Damien and Teddy are the main protagonists in the story and as brothers wind up having differing views on how to achieve what is best for their beloved homeland. Damien winds up being converted to the IRA in the most impressionable way after a British brigade busts up a train station. Teddy was already in the IRA and welcomes Damien to its ranks. The film begins in the 1920's and follows the progression of Irish politics from there. Its very clear from the directors point of view that the English were nothing short of storm troopers harassing the locals and torturing where necessary. The interesting bit is beyond the two dimensional depiction of the Brits and all about the evolution of Irish politics on into the Republican days after the signing of a truce with England for peace in most of Ireland. There is a scene where the truce is discussed that is a history lesson all its own.

Dohnanyi and Mozart

Attended the Chapel Hill Chamber Music Workshops opening concert on Sunday afternoon in the Graham Memorial. It was a perfect setting to hear two really different chamber pieces. First up was Serenade in C Major by Enro Dehnanyi. The intensity and beauty of this piece immediately put me in mind of Dvorak. The complex harmonies of the 3rd and 4th movements are a wonder to hear. It was played crisply and clearly by a trio of cello, viola and violin. I do not know this composers work but this piece has inspired me to learn more.

The second piece of the afternoon was Mozart's Horn Quintet which was much less challenging to the ear. A brisk 3 movements where the latter two felt almost like rondos of the first. Again beautifully performed but not quite as interesting to the ear as the first.