Tuesday, June 26, 2012


The classic recording of William Walton's Symphony No. 1. The first premiere of the entire work was in 1935; this recording is from 1966. Love the opening. Am addicted to the finale. What's in the middle is just as engaging. This is among the finest bright lights, big city orchestral statements made in the twentieth century. Previn made it happen, the jazz, the anxiety, angst, energy, endurance - whatever words describe the music, it's all right here. I think of this symphony as the Western equivalent of Shostakovich No. 5 in the sense that both symphonies depict struggle, one with totalitarian regime, the other with the individual's place in the hustle of the free world. You may hear something different, which is OK. That's the whole joy of hearing tunes without words.

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Buy HERE (Collected Works... A+). Also check out Walton's Second and the Viola Concerto HERE. Or Belshazzar's Feast HERE. And a whole bunch of other great stuff HERE.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

What Do You Want?

Sandy Denny with Fairport Convention

Two songs with Sandy Denny here. The first is a version of "Si Tu Dois Partir" with Fairport Convention in which Denny jeers "What do you want?" at the beginning of the track. I don't know why she does that, but it's fun. This is definitely an excellent version of the song - a Dylan cover in French, no less!

"The Lowlands of Holland" is from BBC Sessions 1971-1973. This song highlights how Denny carries a mournful tune a cappella.
The link...

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YouTube also has many other good tracks, including this one:

Outstanding is a better word. As one commenter put it, "There are very few singers who can sound delicate and emotionally defiant at one and the same time." That fits this performance perfectly.

Denny's albums with Fairport Convention, What We Did On Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking, Liege & Lief, and the posthumously released Heyday, are all excellent. Another album well worth finding is Sandy Denny & The Strawbs. Beyond that, there are many other good tracks on various albums - Fotheringay, The North Star Grassmen and the Ravens etc. If you're a fan, you'll find them all eventually.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Robert Hunter

Let's take it into June with Robert Hunter. You might have visions of dancing teddy bears in your head - we are talking about the guy who wrote songs for the Grateful Dead. But he is an excellent musician in his own right, and Jack O'Roses is an album to show it, with just the man and his guitar. Here is the song list:

Box of Rain
Reuben and Cerise
Talkin' Money Tree / Friend of the Devil
Delia DeLyon and Stagger Lee
Lady of Carlisle
Book of Daniel
   a. Lady With a Fan
   b. Terrapin Station
   c. Ivory Wheels/Rosewood Track
   d. Jack O'Roses
Prodigal Town

You'll hear interconnected themes in the lyrics of these songs. The stories in them have a mythic feel: they point at events beyond the listener's full comprehension. Somehow this lifts the level of drama to something larger than life happening on the fringes of the great frontier. The album's centerpiece is the Terrapin suite. How Hunter does the whole piece so convincingly with just an acoustic guitar absolutely amazes me. His fingerstyle skills throughout the album amaze me in fact. I like his voice too.

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Jack O'Roses is available in physical form out there in the wide world, but not in CD format as far as I know. Collector LPs exist I'm sure. For information on Hunter's other albums, including Tales of the Great Rum Runners, see the Amazon page here.

There is more to tell! Hunter is a poet and translator. Here are the author's own web pages with his translations of Rilke and a general index of files he shares with the public:

The Sonnets to Orpheus
The Duino Elegies
General Index 

I am looking through these now myself - plenty of great stuff from an American original.