Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges - Clube de Esquina (#7): A double one, and not my favorite. I took it on Embryonic-style, one side at a time to deal with the sheer volume of tracks. It's a mixed bag. The two men sound more similar than I'd like, although the general rule is that Nascimento goes up and Borges, down. (I've heard a couple of Milton's albums already so I should have his chest voice down). The meatier tracks are usually quite memorable; as for the more frivolous, they're inoffensive and hold the album together. I don't like the fourth side, probably not out of fatigue since the disc is only about an hour long and none of it is particularly demanding. It's ok. (Ed: like Embryonic or Exile on Main Street, it's seeming to click now that I'm listening to the whole album, not record side by record side, and have gotten to know the tracks. It actually flows very well and the material is solid. "Dos Cruces" is a hell of a grower, and the fourth side ain't half bad, just not as strong as the earlier ones.)
Beethoven - Piano Sonata 29 (Daniel Barenboim) (vinyl)
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas 31 & 32 (Gary Graffman) (vinyl)
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas 27-32 (Artur Schnabel)
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas 27-32 (Solomon)
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas 27-32 (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet)
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas 28-32 (Maurizio Pollini): The Pollini -- which I picked up in this HAUL, and is the reason I'm listening to these -- is a very well-known recording of very well-known music; Schnabel's and Bavouzet's are from complete sonata cycles: they weren't individually released. The mononymous Solomon's (mono) recording of this music (recommended) includes no. 27, the absence of which is really no great loss, but I've included it in the Schnabel and Bavouzet. The Pollini cover art is pretty badass. The sound quality in the Schnabel (don't know the exact reissue because my pirated copy didn't have that information; your sound quality may vary) is pretty rough, even by 1930s standards; given the lo-fi sound quality and surface noise, the set is hard to recommend as a first choice. The overall winner is easily Solomon: his is a mono recording, but one of those mid-'50s ones where you can hardly tell, given the excellent recording. (They really had basically perfected the mono recording process when stereo came along.) Solomon's "Hammerklavier" is one of the best Beethoven recordings I own, and that's my least favorite sonata of all of the five or six here (too long and demanding, and it's back-loaded). While Solomon's recordings are the best interpretively and Bavouzet has the best sound quality, the Pollini is just sort of in the middle (like IMO Nathan Milstein's Bach sonatas and partitas from roughly the same time) -- (I take that back, nos. 31 and 32 are excellent. Passionate and very sensitive to the diverse moods.) I don't regret buying it but there are better recordings out there.
Ron Carter - Piccolo: "Blue Monk" was cut from the CD release for time, this 1977 (live) album being a double-LP. I didn't know record labels still pulled that shit in 1999. At least they asked Ron which track to omit, but I'd have liked to have heard it. The abridgement is really unfortunate, because the rest of the album is ####ing awesome: you have a separate rhythm section, including a non-Ron bass player. Carter himself plays the piccolo bass (which I had never heard of before buying this, and which gives the album its title) that's like midway between a bass and a cello, played both plucked and bowed. However it is, the two instruments are easily distinguished, even in casual listening. The first two tracks are sidelong and good if you're in the mood; the rest of the album consists of four shorter numbers. "Laverne Walk" is based on "Walkin'", but who is Laverne? Inquiring minds want to know. (This is probably in the liner notes). Anyway, great grooves and great playing. Carter, who solos on something like the disc, with only the piano competing for time -- all the more astonishing that the 18-minute tracks come off so well -- and is not to be missed. Highly recommended.
The Young and the Restless: Can I be honest? I love this show. I ####ing adore it. If you're chronically unemployed (with no plans to change that) it serves as the midway point for your day (assuming you get up early) and provides mental stimulation -- not to mention much-needed structure -- stories to follow day after day; it may be aimed at middle-aged women but it's not just maudlin love scenes/romance-novel shit, and anyone can enjoy it; there are maudlin love -- and sex -- scenes and catty women, but there's murder and intrigue and corporate executives stabbing each other in the back and all that shit. It's a drama (the production company is the Bell Dramatic Serial Company, after all). Injured athletes often get into soap operas. DVR it if you want. There are dozens of characters, most of whom at any one time have a storyline going, and it would probably take a few weeks to figure out all that's going on, but here's a tip: watch it with captions on. They'll tell you who's speaking so you can easily learn the characters' names: audio alone would be frustrating and take forever to figure out who's who, especially when you're already hard-pressed to get up to speed in those beginning few weeks. The scripts are very well written, balancing the different storylines and often giving a heaping dollop of irony with complex characters. Also, recently there was a minor fictitious company called Private Image, Ltd. I totally marked out for that. Rock on.
The Bold and the Beautiful: I probably shouldn't be writing about this show given that I haven't been watching it long, but it's easy to watch, at only a half-hour compared to Y&R's hour. It comes on right after that show, is made by the same people (here, Bell-Phillip Television Productions), and is a kind of sister show and was created as a spinoff, occasionally crossing over with Y&R. There are some important differences: the cast is younger and the show is set in LA at a fashion house that mostly makes high-end and bespoke dresses. If that sounds like a pussy show premise, it kind of is. Generally The Bold and the Beautiful is more of a chick show and not as good. But hey, it's easy and convenient to watch, coming on right after Y&R. The closed-captions trick works here as well.