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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Top 5 from October 16, 2013

Fort Tyron Park on the northern tip of Manhattan.

Get off the subway at 190th street, learn from my mistake and take the elevator, although the neighborhood is nice, it's a long, steep, winding path up. A rocky, leafy, hilly park with many paths going up and down and around, with a spectacular view of the George Washington Bridge and the NJ Pallisades. All paths lead to the Cloisters, a fantastic little museum (now run by the Metropolitan) of medieval and renaissance and earlier art.

Annunciation Triptych (aka the Merode Altarpiece) by the workshop of Robert Campin, at the Cloisters

The reason we have abstract art today is because they were doing things like this in 1430. I remember talking about this painting in my college art history class. Amazing in its detail – the tiny angel delivering the cross to just conceived Jesus, the candle smoldering to life from the divine presence. The patron and his wife watching through the doorway on one side panel, Joseph working away not knowing what's about to hit him on the other. Tournai appears through the window rather than Nazareth. I leaned in far enough to set off the YOU'RE STANDING TOO CLOSE whistle and took an ipod photo after staring gob-smacked for about 15 minutes (as opposed to the guy who was walking through the galleries taking a picture of each object seemingly so he could look at it later at home on his computer).

The Forty Part Motet’’ a sound installation by Janet Cardiff at the Cloisters

A recording of Tallis' Spem in Alium played with each of the 40 singers given his own speaker, laid out around the perimeter of a reconstructed 12th century chapel. The next best thing to hearing it live, rendering mere stereo or even a 5.1 recording cheesy facsimiles. I can honestly say it's the first time I've really heard the piece and all the forty parts and how they work together. It may even be better than live, as a singer is not going to let you stand directly in front of him to hear how his voice relates to the others as he sings it for the fourth time this hour, the 20th time today, only to have you move over to hear someone else's part. (and then of course you go to the gift shop and see the "Tallis Scholars sing Tallis" is for sale with its “as mentioned in 50 Shades of Grey” sticker and sigh).

Rothko Chapel by Morton Feldman - Christophe Desjardins, viola; Basler Madrigalisten; Collegium Novum Zürich; Jonathan Nott conducting

Needing to take a nap or something I put this piece by a classic NYC composer on repeat play and zoned right out, following the flowing melody between viola and choir.

Tim Berne's Snakeoil at the Jazz Standard, NYC

One of the best jazz composers and saxophonists of the day. A chambery group (alto or baritone sax, clarinet or bass clarinet, piano, drums or vibes) but still capable of a mighty noise if called for.

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