Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer days and Sergei Rachmaninov

The summer heatwave had surprisingly (to me, at least) turned humid and quite a bit less heatwavy than expected, much to my heat-wimp delight.
A cool batch of jellyfish clouds out near Mt Helix a couple of days ago.
Somehow the weather and the varieties of clouds (yes, we have some serious clouds this summer! Not quite like the old cloudless brilliant blue summer sky of old) had been putting me in the mood for the music of Sergei Rachmaninov when I should have been listening to the new CD by Anna Bonitatibus that arrived in the mail a week ago. I think I'm saving her for when the dry weather returns later this week.

Anyhow, I started with Rach's two famous piano concertos, of course. There are so many wonderful performances of them on Youtube, though running into a series of orchestra-free version of them by Valentina Lisitsa was a special treat. It's obvious why the music is better with the piano and the orchestra (the two are always complimenting and communicating with each other, so just hearing one is like listening to someone talking to someone else on the phone... You feel excluded and it's hard to get the whole picture of what's being said), but at the same time getting to hear all the millions of notes (because Rachmaninov never wrote just a handful of notes when he could fit in a a whole keg of them) the piano plays - which you wouldn't be able to hear in the presence of the orchestra - really highlight how difficult a piece of music the concerto is for the pianist to play!

After a while I moved on to Rachmaninoff's many wonderful songs... The first, Spring Waters, being a personal favorite. Alas, that thing is really hard to sing and I had to go through many Youtube clips before finally finding one that does him justice. It was no surprise that it was performed by a really amazing singer (because, really, you'd have to be bloody out-of-this-world brilliant to be so enthusiastically endorsed by Astrid Varnay in her autobiography), Lithuania's Violeta Urmana.

What is more? Other clips of her from the same Rachmaninov songs recital were also uploaded and I got to discover a few more gems. Here is today's favorite earworm, 'It's So Nice Here.'

A Smorg can really laze around happily listening to that all day long (well, maybe not... with the current uptick in work load, but definitely in about a week or two!).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer evening on top of Mt Helix... Les Miserables!

A few fellow hills-crazy cycling friends and I have been riding up and down Mt Helix in La Mesa a lot lately. It is such a beautiful place with sleepy streets and friendly locals. I don't need a lot of incentive to head that way as soon as I hop on my bike in the morning. All I need is < 87F weather forecast, and I'm there!
 There is an additional incentive to dropping in on Mt Helix this week, though. The Christian Community Theater is putting on a run of Les Miserables at the Nature Theater.

Even if you don't like musicals, it's still a super cool place to be. Usually you are ushered off the mountain withing 1/2 hr after sunset, but during the shows, of course, you can stay longer. Check out for tickets. The show goes on at 8 pm on July 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, Aug 1, 2.

I'm afraid there's no parking up at the theater for this (there's a lot, but it's way too small). You'll have to park off Vivera opposite from the fire station near the base of the hill and take the shuttle bus up.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Around Town: Nebo

I was messing about Nebo Hill in La Mesa the other day, rediscovering the area's hidden staircases when I spotted this...
'Beware: Pickpockets and Loose Women'
It lies! I swear I looked everywhere for the loose women. They were all in hiding or something!

Oh, I did find the staircases, too, of course.