Saturday, December 31, 2011
I have a strong affinity for Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110. This is his penultimate (second-to-last) sonata. Claudio Arrau captures the spirit of the opening passage beautifully in this 1991 release. I got this CD from the local library a few years ago; unfortunately I only recorded this one sonata from it. This is, you guessed it, out of circulation, but if you go to Amazon and type in Arrau and Beethoven as search terms, you will find plenty more, including several versions of this sonata that he has recorded over the years.
This particular version on the whole is slower and softer around the edges than some others, but it works well for this reflective and at times cerebral music. I'll leave it again to Wikipedia to explain the technical details - see here. I recommend reading the article even if you don't know a great deal about music, since it explains the structure of the movements really well. I really enjoy the fugal passages in the third movement. In many recordings, the third movement is divided into two tracks. Here it is one, with the slow introduction leading into the rest. Other than that, I'll leave you to discover the music on your own.
Download here (no password):
Here's wishing you good things for the new year!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
This YouTube poster (RootfrootMatt) has provided the Latin and English translation with this video. Alleluia! This is chant performance at its best, and only one selection from Sarum Chant: Missa in Gallicantu, performed by the Tallis Scholars (MP3 now available here). I'd recommend this 1988 release to anyone who is fascinated by early choral music, particularly the Gregorian chant monophonic sound. This actually is not Gregorian chant, but part of the Sarum Rite used in the 11th century. To explain what that means, I'll point you to this Wikipedia article (click here). One thing I remember from the liner notes when I borrowed this CD from the library in high school is the English branch of the Church pronounced Latin slightly differently, which is reflected in this recording. So "ce" makes a s sound instead of a ch sound, so precelsa sounds like preselsa instead of prechelsa.
I'm sure this information thrills your heart. If not, I'll leave you with a fine pagan song this Winter Solstice:
Thank you, Ian Anderson!!!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Let's get swinging for the holidays! First, this is a great concert to have in its entirety, so here is an Amazon link. The setting: Newport Jazz Festival, 1956. Duke Ellington and company do fine work all throughout, but there is one segment of this concert that is easily one of my favorite live musical performances of all time, "Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue." Ellington's prefatory remarks are integral to the performance. He says the two segments of the piece will include "an interval by Paul Gonsalves." That's a classic understatement. What follows is one of the coolest saxophone solos in history. It gets you dancing on your seat. In fact, that's the story: at one point a striking blonde woman started dancing on her seat, and the crowd went wild. You can hear it happen. When the band kicks in full-force afterward, holy cow. Not to be missed!
I'll provide a link to the song as reference, but as I say, go to Amazon for more. There are also digital versions of the original recording that are much less than the complete performance.
Download MP4 here:
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Just the name Anne Briggs brings me to tears - not for sadness but for the sheer innocent beauty of her voice. Though Briggs had only a brief stint as far as singers go, her influence will outlast the short years she was in the British folk circuit in the late 60s and early 70s. She's retired and living a quiet family life these days, but a few years ago she participated in a documentary that I'll share below.
First, the music. The Time Has Come is a great album. It is, sadly, out of print. I suggest you give it a listen. If you find yourself weeping uncontrollably and need to hear more, fork over the nine or ten dollars it costs to get Anne Briggs: A Collection here. Just do it: you'll be glad you did. Between Collection and The Time Has Come (which includes some of her originals in addition to traditional music), you'll see why she was a big influence on so many folk musicians. For the album above...
Download here (no password):
So, here is a clip from the documentary:
And here she is singing the title track of the above album (do a YouTube search for more of her):
The gentleman who is standing beside her in that great photo is Bert Jansch. They were friends. Bert Jansch died in October, a sad thing for the folk world. There are also plenty of great music clips of Jansch, including this one of Blackwaterside. Also, click here for the September 2010 post I made about Jansch, including a collection I put together of a few of his songs.