Nine Questions

We admit that interviewing our arts editor is a bit incestuous. But James Reel has a lot of other stuff going on that merits his inclusion. He's the classical music morning man KUAT-FM (90.5/89.7 FM). And he's blogging about the arts for KUAT, too; check out "Cue Sheet."

What was the first concert you ever saw?

Back during my misspent childhood in Yuma, it was one of those "community" orchestras, full of bank tellers and gynecologists rather than professional musicians. ... I remember Smetana's "Moldau," which I love to this day.

What CDs are in your changer right now?

I do have a big pile of new classical discs I'm supposed to review, and what I like best are reissues: 45-year-old Mercury Living Presence recordings, like Janos Starker playing cello concertos by Schumann and Lalo.

How many total albums do you own (CDs, vinyl, cassettes, 8-tracks)?

No 8-tracks, although I did have half a dozen in the 1970s. ... I can tell you that I'm down to 4 linear feet of vinyl and about 87 linear feet of CDs. There'd be more, but I'm married.

Do you download music, and if so, legally or illegally?

The only time ... was with LimeWire for a research project I was helping a professor-friend of mine with--female vocalists from the 1920s and earlier, possible influences on Ethel Merman.

What was the first album you owned?

Not counting the theme from Quick Draw McGraw on a little yellow 78, the first album was probably Glenn Gould playing the piano reduction of Beethoven's Fifth.

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?

I just want to be cremated and flushed down the toilet. So maybe the old Alka-Seltzer jingle: "Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh, what a relief it is." Either that or Mahler's Ninth Symphony.

Musically speaking, what do you love that your friends don't know about? What's your favorite guilty pleasure?

I actually like Leonard Cohen. ... At least I can understand the lyrics. Insofar as Cohen's lyrics can be understood.

What band or artist changed your life, and how?

Probably a secondary early-20th-century French composer named Albert Roussel. I found some scratchy LPs of his music ... when I was a kid. ... I realized that the big-name composers didn't write all the great music.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Zubin Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic playing Franz Schmidt's Symphony No. 4--voluptuous, depressing German late Romanticism that's perfect when you don't have time for Mahler.

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