Friday, December 30, 2005

Ensemble Ambrosius
Finland's fabulous Ensemble Ambrosius

Just a quick note as NYE barrels down upon us and I drill myself on the melody and words to my vocal selection, "What Are You Doing New Year's." It's not a bad song; it might be amusing, toward the end of a pious Christmas program, particularly if I were more than just wishfully Jewish. Singing the song *ON* New Year's Eve itself makes no sense to me at all, but predictably enough, no one's asking for my opinion.

One takes one's New Year's Eve employment where one can, and tomorrow mine will be on the outskirts of Sacramento, playing for the contra dancers there. A world away from my old milieu of martinis and neon, the contra dance is proof that nerds need someplace to flirt, too. But I digress.

I recently had the chance to view "Downfall," a great, recent German film about the 1945 fall of Berlin, seen from the vantage of a politically apathetic German stenographer. I can't quite reconcile my keen, lifelong interest in World War Two with not knowing until now that Finland's army did deal a decisive blow to the forces trying to hold Berlin against Russia's invasion. Thank you, Finland.

Ensemble Ambrosius is a septet of Finnish classical musicians whose early-music group scored a minor hit with their transcriptions of music by Frank Zappa. The performances are nearly flawless, yet pulsating with vigor and rich with expression. It would seem these youngsters really LOVED their Zappa. I love what they've done with it. You can buy this record online with US Dollars now.

Ensemble Ambrosius
I said "LOVED" because I'm told they've moved on to concentrate on presenting their own compositions, and may be sore over a dissipation of their popular acclaim. Still, those of us who hoped for so much when the classical world began to play Zappa's music have much, at last, for which to be grateful. Thank you, Finland.

Inca Roads (excerpt) - Ensemble Ambrosius
Ensemble Ambrosius home page

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