Showdown: Rachmaninoff Vocalise

>> Saturday, July 25, 2009

I've done this several times before: I present three different performances of a piece, and you choose the performance you like best. Here are three very well-known and loved artists performing the beautiful and haunting Rachmaninoff Vocalise. Choose your favorite and tell us why you prefer that particular performance.

Kiri Te Kanawa

Itzhak Perlman

Renee Fleming


The World's most beautiful music: Mozart Sonata for Piano & Violin in E minor, K 304, movement 2

>> Sunday, July 19, 2009

I made a new discovery as I was painting the house yesterday. Although I have owned a recording of Mozart's marvelous sonatas for piano and violin, for several years now, I hadn't paid much attention to it. But yesterday, as I painted the trim over the archway to the dining room of our new house, I was given the opportunity to really listen to and fall in love with these uncelebrated works. I realized then, that it is in Mozart's chamber works that much of his true genius is found.

I've heard several people, upon listening to the chamber works of Mozart, exclaim, "That sounds like Schubert", to which I usually reply, "No, Schubert sounds like Mozart. Mozart did come first, you know."


A little painting music

>> Saturday, July 18, 2009

Today Steph, Joel, and I are piling into the van with our painting clothes on to begin painting the interior of our new home! Whenever Steph and I engage in activities such as painting, cleaning, etc. we like to listen to Baroque music, for the steady, constant, dance tempo keeps one stimulated and moving. So today I'll be armed with my paint brush and a good collection of music by Handel!

Today I'm featuring the Hornpipe from Handel's Watermusic Suite, an all-time favorite of mine!



>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We've been experiencing some extremely hot temperatures over the last several days. Over the past week our temps have been jumping as high as 109°, (Fahrenheit), with heat indexes as high as 115°! There have been heat advisories all over the southwestern part of the country, including most of the entire state of Oklahoma.

This wonderful clip seems entirely appropriate for such days as these. I've always loved Gershwin and Porgy and Bess is among my favorite of Gershwin's works. Here is the unforgettable Summertime from Porgy and Bess.


Palastorchester & Max Raabe: Oops! I did it again

>> Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gotta love this 1930's version of Britney Spears' early hit, Oops! I did it again, by the German singer Max Raabe & Palatsorchester. It's straight out of 1930's Berlin!


Vintage 1930

>> Thursday, July 9, 2009

I looked up the comps on the little cottage that we're moving into and found out that it was built in 1930. Yesterday we signed the lease and were given the key to do a walk-through. It still has the original casement windows and retains all of its early 1930's charm.

For some historical perspective: 1930 was the year Hitler was elected as the supreme leader in Germany.

The clip I've chosen for today is from a 1930 film starring Bebe Daniels and Everett Marshall.


On the sunny side of the street

>> Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our little new cottage inspired me to feature this fun classic! The pictures are of the little yellow cottage that we'll be moving into on August 1st!


A new nation born to freedom... for some: 1776, "Molasses to Rum to Slaves"

>> Sunday, July 5, 2009

Edward Rutledge, delegate from South Carolina, is unhappy with the passage in the Declaration of Independence concerning slavery. A very provoking and powerful scene, it refers to the Triangular Trade Route.

Triangular trade, or Triangle trade
, is a historical term indicating trade among three ports or regions. The trade evolved where a region had an export commodity that was required in the region from which its major imports came. Triangular trade thus provided a mechanism for rectifying trade imbalances.

The Transatlantic Triangular Trade
operated during the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, carrying slaves, cash crops, and manufactured goods between West Africa, the Caribbean or American colonies and the European colonial powers, with the northern colonies of British North America, especially New England, sometimes taking over the role of Europe.

The use of African slaves was fundamental to growing colonial cash crops, which were exported to Europe. European goods, in turn, were used to purchase African slaves, which were then brought on the sea lane west from Africa to the Americas, the so called middle passage.

A classic example would be the trade of sugar (often in its liquid form, molasses) from the Caribbean to Europe or New England, where it was distilled into rum, some of which was then used to purchase new slaves in West Africa.

Information Source: Wikipedia


The birth of a nation: 1776 "The Egg"

>> Saturday, July 4, 2009

1776 is a musical with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone. It is based on the events leading to the writing and signing of the United States Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1776.

The musical was produced on Broadway in 1969, running for 1,217 performances, and was made into a film of the same name in 1972. The show was nominated for five Tony Awards and won three, including Best Musical.

Information source: Wikipedia

The following is from the 1972 film version of the musical starring William Daniels as John Adams, Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin, and Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson. If you've not seen this film I highly recommend it!


So I'm a sucker for baritones: Simon Keenlyside

>> Friday, July 3, 2009

I must confess that I only just discovered this little gem of a baritone this last weekend when Lauren gave me the DVD recording of the 2003 Covent Garden production of Die Zauberflöte. Who knew that a guy who did his major studies in zoology could sing like that?

Simon Keenlyside
(born August 3, 1959, London, England), is a British baritone opera singer. He is the son of Raymond and Ann Keenlyside. His father played second violin in the Aeolian Quartet, and his grandfather was also a professional violinist. Keenlyside has said: "Where other children would have nursery rhymes, I’d go to bed to the sounds of Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert." As a child, Keenlyside was a chorister under Dr George Guest in the choir of St John's College, Cambridge.

Keenlyside read zoology at Cambridge University, returning to St John's as a choral scholar, before studying singing at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. After graduation, he won a Peter Moore Foundation Scholarship (1985) and chose to join the Royal Northern College of Music to study voice with John Cameron, who opened up the world of German Lieder to him. He says "I wanted to learn to sing, and earning money at that point would have been, I'm sure, detrimental to learning how to sing". “…when I was in my mid-twenties my voice wasn’t ready for opera. John was rightly concerned that I should not force my natural vocal weight, like some singers do – a Faustian pact you pay for later with wobble and nodules.”

Here's Keenlyside as a very 18th century and I'm sure Mozart-approved Count Almaviva in a 2001 Vienna Staatsoper production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

Information source: Wikipedia


Somethin's Comin'

>> Thursday, July 2, 2009

A great number from West Side Story that's stuck in my head this morning.


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