Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sir Tristan meets his match

Love this story about the Tristan monument in Cornwall, England, being moved to make way for a bus stop.

He apparently fought Lancelot (see picture above) but now he must fight the transit system!

It sounds totally like something that would happen in Buffalo.

The story is not as bad as it sounds considering that the stone has already been moved at least once. Isn't it the whole point of a gravestone that you can stand there and think whose body lies there? So that was already lost, if what I am reading is true.

Meanwhile, I am watching that post-Apocalyptic looking clip they put with the story. Whoever staged that "Tristan" production did not break the bank on it, that is for sure. What is that in the middle, a chair with a sheet over it?

I like that entire site, "The Wagnerian." I had never seen it before. It seems to be run from England. I just might have to subscribe to it to keep up to date on all my Wagner news.

This got me laughing:

The Wagnerian is published by S.M. Moran. Educated at Eaton and then Oxford,  Seb has had a long career in a range of professions, but specializing in public relations. While, much of that career has been spent in the UK, he has also spent  brief periods  in the Middle East, India, Africa, the Himalayas and Switzerland. Now retired, Seb spends much of his time divided between Wagner, sports and his club in London. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Soprano goes overboard

 It is a long story why, but I wound up just now looking at this video of Lotte Lehmann and Eleanor Steber discussing their work with Toscanini.

Again, amazing, all the stuff on YouTube! You can sit around all day listening to dead musicians and if I had my druthers that is what I would do.

Although I have to say this: Sometimes these people annoy me.

Here is Lehmann at the start of this video. Lehmann sang "Fidelio" with Toscanini in 1935.

"It is rather difficicult to talk about the Maestro Toscanini. Can one describe ze beauty of ze sunset -- or, more appropriately, ze beauty of ze thunderstorm?"

Oh, Miss Lehmann. You're great and everything, but put a lid on it, you know?

But then she continues:

"I heard him say, as he said once to me, that I expressed my admiration for him in glowing terms, 'Don't exaggerate. Don't you see that I am nobody to be glorified? I am just a good conductor, that's all.' He was quite annoyed with me ..."


Toscanini felt the way I do!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mozart turns up at the gym

I was in Pilates class and the best part of it is, at the end you get to lie on your mat. You just lie there and the teacher tells you to relax.

And there is this soundtrack with this kind of world music, this cello wailing and groaning, and these drums in the background.

So I am lying there, my eyes closed.

And suddenly the cello stopped moaning and twittering and it soared into a theme I recognized.

It can't be, I thought.

It can't be!

But it was!!

It was "Voi Che Sapete," from "The Marriage of Figaro." One of my favorite pieces of music in the world.

Here is a clip from the video of the opera I saw when I was 15. It knocked me over.

One day I will start a whole separate Web log for "The Marriage of Figaro." It will be the "Marriage of Figaro" Web log. We will share information every day about the history of the opera, performances of it and ways in which it impacts and reflects our everyday lives.

I do not think I have seen that production between now and then. But I love the end of this clip -- cut off, alas, too soon. I like how the Countess, Kiri Te Kanawa, is kind of gazing at Cherubino, the boy who just sang the song. You are supposed to be a little bit gaga after hearing "Voi Che Sapete." Mozart built that into the music. Maria Ewing acts it beautifully and as one commenter on YouTube points out, she looks enough like an adolescent boy to be believable.

It is funny how a chance event can influence you.

I heard that weirdo cellist playing "Voi Che Sapete" and the whole rest of the day, I could not stop thinking about it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

'It is I, your piano'

There is this funny and sweet old audio show put out by Capitol Records, "Sparky's Magic Piano," that I ran across because of my research on Leonard Pennario. They made the radio show into an animated film in the 1980s, with Mel Blanc, and Pennario played the piano for it.

The show, and the cartoon, seem to have something of a cult following. And I can see why!

What happens is, this little boy Sparky gets frustrated with practicing, and his piano comes to life and does the playing for him, allowing him to come off sounding like a great virtuoso. Meaning, in the movie, he suddenly, magically sounds like Pennario. In the audio show, made in the 1940s, they had another pianist.

There is nothing like the moment when the piano talks.

"Who's calling me?" Sparky wonders.

"It is I, your piano."

Check it out in the clip up above.

You will be laughing all day!

Monday, January 7, 2013

My medieval Christmas

 OK, after a cool couple of weeks with no musical thoughts, I break my silence with ...

Resonet in Laudibus!

We sang it yesterday at church.

I had it in my head wrong and had to relearn one line of it. I don't know where I picked it up wrong, I just did. Later on Sunday I went and asked my mother about it. My mother started singing it the way I had had it in my head. So maybe I got it from her.

Whatever the particulars, "Resonet in Laudibus" is an ancient song I love.

Its gently rocking rhythm makes it perfect for a lullaby. Brahms wove "Resonet in Laudibus" into his famous "Spiritual Cradle Song." "Spiritual" is not a perfect translation for "Geistliches." There is no perfect translation for "Geistliches."

 Max Reger used it in his famous cradle song too.


Next Christmas when we sing it I will be ready.