Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas with Herbert von Karajan

My Cat Jeoffry listening to Leontyne Price.

On the third day of Christmas we consider the Christmas record I have with Leontyne Price and Herbert von Karajan.

You can hear the whole record on YouTube. But it is not the same as on vinyl! That is my carol and I will continue to sing it. Listening to the vinyl really puts you back in an earlier time. This record came out in 1961.

It runs off the rails now and then as Christmas records do. The arrangement of "Angels We Have Heard on High" goes a little nuts with the "Gloria." Well, maybe someone had one too many Tom and Jerrys. 'Tis the season!

I happen to think "We Three Kings" is a kind of overrated carol.

But there my criticisms pretty much end. The arrangements are wonderful, elegant in that wonderful way of the 1950s and early '60s. "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is a track I particularly love, with its witty accompaniment. You get "O Tannenbaum" with a verse or two in German because people expected it back then.

Conductor and diva must both have been happy with the record because in 1962 they teamed up again for "Tosca."

Herbert von Karajan gets a bad rap, you know? People would say he was bossy and a Nazi and vain and mean. Brooding about that just now I came up with this Guardian article that interviews a lot of people about him and most of them agree with me, that these allegations were unfair.

Who wouldn't, given this Christmas record?

Just listen to it!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

On the second day of Christmas ...

On the second day of Christmas I like to settle in and enjoy some Christmas music. Actually this year I have jumped the gun and have been listening to it for a while.

I sell Christmas records in my Etsy shop but there were a couple I could not quite part with. One was Joan Sutherland's Christmas album, including this witty and marvelous take on "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Do people still remember Joan Sutherland? I am so grounded in the '80s because those were the singers I grew up with and loved. Joan Sutherland was a big diva back then and she was married to Richard Bonynge who conducted this glorious Christmas record that I could not find it in my heart to sell on Etsy. It is not as if people would be lining up to buy it anyway and there I would be having to not play it and keep it perfect. That was what I told myself anyway.

Joan Sutherland also does a number on "O Holy Night." That is a song for tenors and sopranos, you know? You do not normally find mezzos or baritones singing it.

I have a kind of guilty soft spot for "O Holy Night." Leonard Pennario did too and I think of him, still, when I hear it. Yesterday I heard the great Leontyne Price singing it and I thought of Pennario double because he noted in his diary that he went to hear Leontyne Price sing and later he went backstage to greet her. He was a fan.

When I was a kid Leontyne Price WAS opera. No grand occasion was complete until they brought her out. But that is another story for another day.

For the Third Day of Christmas, perhaps!

We are just beginning.