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In Brief: Spring Has Sprung Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.
  • For the 325th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach today, there is this wonderful if slightly odd performance of the first movement of BWV 54, Widerstehe doch der Sünde, with countertenor Russell Oberlin and pianist Glenn Gould, televised in 1962. Most delightfully, it is introduced by Gould himself, who makes some great observations about the harmonies. Bach composed this cantata for the Third Sunday of Lent, at Weimar on March 24, 1715, and its opening line (text by Georg Christian Lehms, not as Gould states, possibly by Bach himself) is appropriately Lenten: "Stand firm against sin, / otherwise its poison seizes hold of you." [YouTube]

  • Opera News has a piece that tries to answer the question of how opera fans find the time to indulge our passion for that most extravagant of genres? "Opera, it seems, requires a slower world. It hides vast amounts of time in its form — not just the duration of the music but the astonishing hours of preparation, the rehearsals and the private study (years, decades, whole lives) upon which every scintilla of music is predicated." Indeed, we do love opera "because it has become a refuge from time." A beautiful essay on the topic. [Philip Kennicott]

  • Matthew Guerrieri has some marvelously formed thoughts on Chopin's use of rubato and how pianists use it when playing his music. [The Faster Times]

  • You may have seen the news that Robert De Niro won a legal battle to reclaim some of his late father's paintings from the Salander-O'Reilly Galleries before they are sold in a bankruptcy auction. Lawrence Salander has been charged with taking them unfairly from the artist. The actor showed up in Nice last week for a private viewing of the Musée Matisse's exhibition devoted to the work of Robert De Niro, Sr. [Le Figaro]

  • Frances Carlin says that Mariame Clément, in a new staging of Rameau's Platée for the Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg, "gamely turns this story of a self-deluded frog who imagines herself wooed by Jupiter into a satire on post-war consumer-obsessed America, a nation that deluded itself into thinking the party could go on for ever." Nice. Dutch soprano Judith van Wanroij, who stood out in Opera Lafayette's recent performance of Gluck's Armide, was strong as Juno. [Financial Times]

  • Hahahaha. With hat tip to Boing Boing, an interview with a proctologist about what gives farts their distinctive bouquets. Seriously. Probably, one has to have been a middle school boy at some point to find this funny. [Viceland]

  • Rocco Palmo has the best take-off on the season of March Madness: a bracket that seeds the contenders who are likely to be named to succeed Cardinal Mahony as Archbishop of Los Angeles. One side of the bracket is Anglo, and the other is Latino. [Whispers in the Loggia]

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