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from Wednesday, November25th of the year2009.

For the past week, I’ve been staying in Eindhoven, in the Southeast of the Netherlands, rehearsing with Teitur and the Holland Baroque Society. Teitur and I have co-written fourteen songs, loosely arranged around videos people have put up of themselves online. Usually, the videos are, either inadvertently or intentionally, confessions of some sort: one man loves the smell of his printer in the morning; another woman loves her cat more than her cat loves her. The songs are beautiful and the ensemble sounds great; our first show is tonight and I’m really, really looking forward to it.

Teitur and I have developed something of a routine here “” we’re staying in a hotel next to the old Philips Light Tower, and, in said Light Tower, somebody has put a bougie bistro/café called Usine. We’ve eaten, I think, every single meal there (with the exception of the duck I ate in a design store yesterday afternoon). Now. We are obsessed with this place. We sing songs in its honor (to the tune of “Jolene”) and look forward to taking meals in it. However. This place has some comedy bad service. It’s one of those situations where the waiters and waitresses sort of glide around aimlessly, deliberately avoiding eye contact. The other night, we arrived at 9 PM, ravenous for food and drink; in the twelve (!) minutes between when we were seated and when a waitress brought us a menu, don’t they think we would have ordered a drink each, and some wasabi nuts? Don’t they want our euros? I sort of want to write them a fan letter with a long PS, but is that inappropriate? This morning, at breakfast, I watched three people walk out because it took too long for them to get asked if they wanted coffee (is there something else that people want in the morning? In America, if you sit down at any restaurant before noon, they are right there with the coffee and juice offers.)

Last night, we went to a concert of Concerto Copenhagen and the Lets Radiokoor performing Pärt’s Magnificat Antiphons, a Bach Suite, and the Bach Magnificat. I would say that of Bach’s works, the orchestral suites are among my Least Favorite and the Magnificat is among my Most Favorite. The Pärt was beautiful, and dangerously dry in the space, but really wonderful to hear live. The Bach Suites were whatever; am I crazy in never having been very moved by these pieces? But! The director? Of the Concerto Copenhagen? Had some of the most severe moves I have EVER seen. He was conducting from the harpsichord but he looked like this here:

meets this here:

HOWEVER. Despite all the theatrics, I have never, ever heard a more precise and excited “Omnes Generationes,” and the fugal stuff at the end was so good. The soloists were interesting: random nordic maidens with too much vibrato for me, then a countertenor (Iestyn Davies) with just the right amount of vibrato, an anonymous tenor, and a skinny South African bass with a lot of heft behind the voice. Listen to how beautiful this trio is:

[audio:Suscepit Israel.mp3]
Suscepit Israel from Bach’s Magnificat
Monteverdi Choir / Gardiner

One thing about the Bach Magnificat: there exist these four Christmas interludes in German which I just love love love. Sometimes people perform them and sometimes they don’t; I’d have thought that a wintertime performance would have included them. And it didn’t, and I was Sad. They should put it somewhere on the program so as not to Fall Short of Expectations. It’s fine, though: I went home and listened to Leontyne Price sing “Von Himmel Hoch” so fast:

Leontyne Price & the Wienna Symphêrny / Karajan

Holyshit on re-listening to this this morning I realize that this is completely outrageous. Who made this arrangement? What is that organ, @JamesMcvinnie? The first organ pedal entrance eleven seconds in is totally the Wonderful Wurlitzer, isn’t it? Is this how Bach “went” in the Past? @nadiasirota, can we talk about this vibrato? And finally: Leontyne

What is the deal with how great her hair is in this picture? How many processes did she undergo to get it that tousled? Love her. Speaking of processes: everybody needs to watch this unreal video. I imagine you wearing some wonderful neutral.


  • Great update, thanks so much for the trio – really enjoyed that! Looking forward to tonight very much now, best wishes to you and Teitur! It’ll be fantastic 🙂

  • Good Luck with the Tour! I am curious to see and hear the Confessions next Saturday.

    I hate to say it as a Dutchman but service in Dutch restaurants/cafes is rather poor. 🙁

  • I must be well bored that I find the time to still read this stuff you are posting. But it’s just so addictive.

    Have a nice time in the Lowlands.

    Customer service in London is much worse.
    The tea people here don’t even know what good coffee has to taste like…

    See you soooooon.

  • I love the confessions stuff up on the tube already. Are you guys going to release the other 12ish songs some other way, like on youtube or a CD?

  • Karajan did some crazy Bach. I love his St. Matthew from the early 70s with Fischer-Dieskay, Berry, Ludwig, Janowitz, Schreier and the BPO. Totally not ‘comme il faut’ anymore, but it still gets me every time.

  • Mizrahi is one of the greater fashion flukes ever known.

  • BLESS #themightywurlitzer. I am majorly flashing back to Lutheran Childhood Christmas. Can we talk about that concertmaster and the last phrase?? Do you think this is the same guy???

  • Nico, I would really encourage the letter with the looong P.S. Diplomacy leaves a lot to be desired in situations like this. How are they going to know their service is a fail if no-one tells them? Be the one 🙂 (When I worked in retail, I told one customer he looked like a Village People reject with our clothes on. He laughed, my manager didn’t… but he appreciated the honesty.)

  • Wow, this is really funny. Maybe not of any interest to you, but I’ll try to explain why this is so funny: I follow a course at the conservatory of Utrecht with Frank de Munnik which is called American Music, Art and Culture. Your confessions tour fits perfect in that subject so I’ll come to the concert tomorrow in Utrecht (still not a funny story untill now, I know). I’m following a course music journalism as well and that’s why I’ll write a critic tomorrow about your concert but don’t worry, I’ve only had a few lessons and I’m still pretty bad in clearly saying what I think and feel. Just before I came to your website (I wanna be well prepared for tomorrow) I was reading the critics of a fellow student on the concert of … (here it comes) the Concerto Copenhagen and the Lets Radiokoor which was in Utrecht yesterday! How different is it to you to write a good and clear critic on a concert, we can learn a lot of your writing skills, while I actually expect(ed) to learn from your music. We’ll see, tomorrow…!\n\nBest wishes,\nImke

  • The most hilarious conducting style is what I call Steering A Spaceship, where you guide your baton through the air like an eight-year-old boy flying his model airplane through imaginary outer space. Not naming names.

  • Love the visuals as always. Thanks for being my distraction for finals.