Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beyond 'Do, Re, Mi'

A couple more scales and then we move on to other things, I promise. But the subject of scales is just so cool. It is fun just fooling around with them in your head.

Howard says that scales are a hallmark of Richard Rodgers, pictured above. And sure enough!

In "The Blue Room" that scale shows up in the bridge: "We will drive on, keep alive on, just nothing but kisses..."

That is at about :42 in this stingy little preview video.

It is no accident Richard Rodgers wrote "Do Re Mi."

But "Do Re Mi" is another story.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Upscale playing

Yesterday we talked about scales going down and today is all about scales going up.

Mozart is our guy! He liked his ascending scales, did Mozart.

In the 22nd Piano Concerto you can hear that good old scale in the first movement, right about 4:34. It is a marvelous theme he makes out of those plain old eight notes.

Just singing the scale to myself I came up with another one, right off the bat. Mozart again! This time it is the great A Major Concerto, No. 23.

Wow, this music is full of scales. There are showers of them at 18:20 -- we are dealing with the last movement here. But the instance I was thinking of is at 19:45. Of course you can find them other places too, when the themes repeat.

This is a magical movement! The 23rd is definitely in the running for my favorite Mozart concerto. Rudolf Buchbinder could not look more square! But I like how he plays, strong and straightforward.

As are the scales.

Strong and straightforward!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Drama on a grand scale

Last night I saw "The Nutcracker" at Shea's. And at intermission, emboldened by a glass of wine, I mentioned to my friends how cool it is that the Grand Pas De Deux near the end of "The Nutcracker" is really just a simple scale, going down.

It is fun to play the game of what themes are just a scale. It is something you can think about while you are falling asleep.

I have two good examples of ascending scale but Blogger is defective when it comes to posting videos and I do not, alas, have all day. So they will have to wait till tomorrow. For now I have another descending scale. It is funny how a simple descending scale, nothing added, can sound so different from the pas de deux from "The Nutcracker."

It is "Joy to the World"!

There you go, Tchaikovsky and Handel.

A master knows how to work that scale!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bargain Christmas bells

Last week I scored this great 3-record Christmas vinyl set. It is "The Bells of Bethlehem"!

Looking at it now on eBay I see a set priced at $15. Vinyl is generally not valuable and Christmas vinyl is even less so. You can pretty much get Christmas records for a song which is one of the many things I love about them.

Amazon has "The Bells of Bethlehem" starting at $4.10.

I beat that price. Mine cost me 25 cents. But "The Bells of Bethlehem" is a bargain at any price.

You get to hear a genuine 1950s Mass at Christ's birthplace in Bethlehem. The music is good but I love just hearing the Latin prayers in between.

Then you get Erich Kunz singing "O Tannenbaum" and "Joseph Lieber Joseph Mein" and other goodies. You know me, I like Erich Kunz.

There are a bunch of French carols, and "The Holly and the Ivy," sung by the Deller Consort. A goodly group of singers!

It is too early to be listening to this but I admit it, I have already been doing some guilty binge-ing on this set. Then on Thanksgiving my nieces and nephews were playing it. They are fascinated with vinyl.

As am I!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A new handle on Handel

Looking around for "Oh Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion," I found this Mozart's arrangement of "Messiah."

It is in German so you get thee up into the hohen Bergen instead of the high mountains. Also a lot of "auf." That is a great German word, "auf."

You also get these flutes. People try to tell you Mozart didn't like the flute, but he really likes his flutes in this case!

A couple of years ago when I studied this Mozart "Messiah" more closely, I was struck by the oomph of this chorus in this particular segment. This performance is good but the one I have on disc somewhere, it just about flies off the tracks.

A great thing to listen to and it is tremendously entertaining, the thought of Mozart improving on Handel. I wanted to post the Handel version just for comparison's sake but Blogger has this thing going on where it vaporizes your videos, so it is a big production, trying to post another video.

So just listen to this one.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Arise, go forth and conquer

 Unlike a lot of people I could name, I am not off this week.

And so, a song for a Monday morning... Schubert's "Der Schiffer." It needs no translation, really. It is about a guy on a ship who thrives on fighting the storm.

Up above it is sung by Gerald Finley, who is quickly becoming one of my top guys in the opera department. I am pounding out a review of his new disc of Schumann's "Dichterliebe" for work. Did I say pounding out? I meant working on. In any case, it got me thinking how great he is. He has that powerful voice and also he just has such feeling and humanity. Not every singer has that.

He sang that "Meistersinger" I loved, that had me up all night, remember? I laugh thinking of that because I remember at first I was miserable because I couldn't sleep and then watching that opera under those unusual circumstances became one of my most treasured musical memories.

Anyway, Schubert's "Der Schiffer." Finley goofs the lyrics in the first verse -- it's fun to hear him covering for himself. So we will cover for our own goofs as we enter another work week, rendered all the more hectic because of the holiday. No stopping for regrets.

A good song for a Monday morning!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Music from out of this world

My friend Ward asked on my last post that we listen to this chant from Chanticleer.

It is beautiful!

This is Palestrina's treatment of the chant that inspired Beethoven.

Or did it? I have been so scattered and I have so much work to do that I have trouble focusing. Even tonight I cannot listen properly. I have too much stuff to do for the office in the morning. The melody Palestrina uses does not exactly sound like Beethoven's melody. But still, this is fascinating.

Palestrina's music is always so beautiful. I always remember the first time I heard it, on the radio one night in the car. This is Palestrina, I thought. This has to be.

I love listening to Gregorian chant this time of year, when we are plunged into darkness every day at 5.

It is this mysterious and mystical time of year and the music goes with it so well. You think of things spiritual and timeless.

Thank you, Ward, for this chant!

Thank you Chanticleer!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Beethoven's new chant

Here is the new Pange Lingua arrangement by Beethoven that turned up recently.

Wow, it is slow!

That was my first thought. It depends on where you go to church, of course, but in my experience Gregorian chant is never this slow. I read somewhere, in an explanation of this arrangement, that chant was slower in Beethoven's day.

Everything was probably slower in Beethoven's day!

Anyway, to my ears, about the time you get to, oh, 1:20, it sounds pretty dirge-like.

I will have to listen to it multiple times so I adjust.

I will have to go back in time!

Speaking of which, you may read about the Pange Lingua here.

This little bit o' Beethoven would be more accurately described as Tantum Ergo Sacramentum which is part of the Pange Lingua.

Compare and contrast!