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What are you currently listening to?


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Author Topic: What are you currently listening to?  (Read 13840 times)
Neil McGowan
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« Reply #630 on: June 16, 2018, 10:14:18 pm »

Unfortunately,one half of the recording of The Grand Duke is actually the D'Oyly Carte recording! Sad

But which half, as Strephon was heard to wonder? 

"What's to become of my upper half when I've buried my lower half I really don't know! ... You see they're two to one, which is a strong working majority. Queen. Don't let that distress you."
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #631 on: June 18, 2018, 01:02:54 pm »

Unfortunately,one half of the recording of The Grand Duke is actually the D'Oyly Carte recording! Sad

But which half, as Strephon was heard to wonder? 

"What's to become of my upper half when I've buried my lower half I really don't know! ... You see they're two to one, which is a strong working majority. Queen. Don't let that distress you."
Quite! Grin

Incidentally,after saying that they were all in very clear mono,I should point out that the 1966 recording of Utopia Limited,which I hadn't listened to,is not! I had to turn the bass controls on my mini hi-fi to 0 and my treble control to it's maximum setting. After this I was finally able to enjoy the,less than crystal clear,recording! But at least it was all there!! Funnily enough,I am beginning to warm,more and more,in the direction of some of the Ohio Light Opera recordings (on Newport Classics and latterly,the Albany label). These have 'complete' dialogue and have provoked a,decidedly mixed,and often hostile reception from G & S devotees. Yet,on my recent (ongoing) traversal of G & S recordings in my collection,it is the OLO that often seem to make the most favourable impression on me. At least among recordings with dialogue,anyway! For example,Princess Ida,which has never been a favourite of mine. Yet,after listening to the Malcolm Sargent recording (with the D'Oyly Carte) and the two BBC recordings,from 1966 & 1989,respectively,it was the Ohio Light Opera recording which made the most favourable impression on me. For once I found myself listening to,and actually enjoying the dialogue,instead of "switching off" through large passages of it (and I'm pro dialogue!!). Yes,some of the singing on the OLO sets can be variable (why are the women always so good,though?!) but,while the singing on the D'Oyly Carte and BBC recordings,to some extent,is obviously more consistent,it does seem to me as if some kind of torpor seems to set in at times?

In this respect I have found some of the Ohio Light Opera recordings a,veritable,breath of fresh air! Also,as well as finding it amusing,and strangely fascinating,to hear Americans performing such a hallowed British (English?) institution as G & S,I can't help wondering if some of the hostility from G & S devotees (groupies?! Grin) is the fact that Americans should have the temerity to perform,record,and thus defile,these illustrious products of Empire?!! In fact,some of the comments on the main G & S website,do strike me as,downright,catty;as opposed to constructive criticism (which is fair enough). For instance (in a review of their recording of The Mikado) referring to Julie Wright (Associate Artistic Director of Ohio Light Opera) as "her ladyship"! As to the American accents slipping in,now and again? I actually don't mind that much;as long as the performances are good. That's what is most important to me! Most of the time their English accents are very convincing to my ears. And done with aplomb! They must have practiced for some time. I can almost imagine them speaking to their wife,or husband,in english accents,at home,just to make sure they get them right!! And waiting for the intrusion of an American accent is probably part of the fun of listening to these recordings! I also like the feeling of being in a theatre,as opposed to a sterile studio. (Although,it is obvious some of these recordings aren't quite what they are made out to be!)
Their recording of Ruddigore is,easily,the most "fun" I have ever heard! (The 1966 BBC recording the all time best). I even enjoyed the Monty Python "women" voices!! And yet,I wasn't too keen on some of their recordings when I first heard them,either! I may even invest in some more,now? (New prices are frightening,yuo have to look for them s/h!) I also really enjoyed their recording of Victor Herbert's The Red Mill. Quite a find,imho! Often described as a Sullivan without a Gilbert! The Irish recently recorded his operetta,Eileen! It has received enthusiastic reviews.

But that's another story,for another post!! Grin
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #632 on: June 19, 2018, 12:46:05 pm »

The 1966 BBC recording of Patience,with dialogue. Possibly the best recorded performance with dialogue ever. Peter Pratt,who did the patter songs for the D'Oyly Carte,before John Reed took over. Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs are among the actors performing the dialogue. Peter Pratt,as always,does his own. In very clear mono. This is one of the best of the 1966 BBC series. The 1966 D'Oyly Carte recording is very good,but this is even better! Superb! Smiley

http://gasdisc.oakapplepress.com/patbbc.htm
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #633 on: June 24, 2018, 01:27:56 pm »

Playing here now! The 1962 D'Oyly Carte recording of Ruddigore. The omission of dialogue is the big disappointment for me. I'm definitely in the pro dialogue camp when it comes to G & S. And Ruddigore has one of the most,if not the most entertaining plot,imho,of the lot,with it's ott dastardly villain,Witch's curse,ghosts and I mustn't forget Mad Margaret! Fortunately,if you like the dialogue,the Ohio Light Opera released a first rate and hugely entertaining Ruddigore in 2009 (on the Albany label) and there is also the excellent 1966 BBC Studio recording (the best recording with dialogue ever) which can be found online (just put 1966 BBC Ruddigore into Google,or whatever Search engine you use & it's not the one posted on Youtube,if you want good sound!) and the (very good)1989 BBC recording,which can be downloaded here. The D'Oyly Carte recording is up to their usual standard,but contains some cuts. An excellent performance of Cox and Box adds to the entertainment value of this release.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #634 on: June 24, 2018, 02:17:51 pm »

Playing now! The 2000 recording of Princess Ida on the Newport Classics label with dialogue! I have found myself gradually warming to the Ohio Light Opera recordings. Even the recordings I wasn't so impressed by. Like this one! The quality of the singing is a little more variable than on their recordings of Utopia Limited,The Sorcerer and their fantastic Ruddigore;but,taken as a whole,I feel this recording is livelier,and less soporific,than some of the English recordings. I also think I prefer it to the 1965 D'Oyly Carte recording in which John Reed's King Gama sounds unusually gruff (for him!). It also lacks dialogue. The women are particularly good in this recording. The 1966 and 1989 BBC recordings,with dialogue,are as good as can be expected from that source. For a commercial recording this could well be my first choice,now. The occasional intrusion of an American accent really doesn't bother me. It's the quality of the performance that is important to me. Anyway,their English accents are,generally,very good. I can imagine them going home and practising it on their families! And there is something strangely fascinating about listening to Americans performing such a hallowed British institution!
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jimmatt
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« Reply #635 on: June 24, 2018, 07:16:49 pm »

Today listening to Schreck's "Christus" captured from the concert on Deutschland Kultur yesterday, beautiful soprano sound, and quite pleasant to me, I like oratorios even if I don't know the words, sort of the way I listen to requiems, big sounds surrounding me, and suggesting that spiritual over-it-all I almost believe in.
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« Reply #636 on: June 25, 2018, 07:50:36 pm »

Playing here,now! Arrived today. On now! The sumptuous 1971 'complete' emi electrola recording of Emmerich Kálmán's (equally sumptuous) 1924 'Hungarian' operetta,Countess Mariza. A delightful children's chorus was cut,but it's still a wonderful recording that has never been bettered,imho! Love those fiery czardas! I prefer Kálmán to Franz Lehár (1870-1948) and think he was just as great,at his best,and less cloyingly (glutinously) sentimental. He also adhered more closely to the true spirit of operetta,which is supposed to be one of gaiety and escapism not gloom! (Interesting how,Lehár wanted to compose an opera and Puccini wanted to compose an operetta,and did!) Electrola,who also recorded Die Csárdásfürstin,really should have gone on to record Kálmán's lovely 1921 operetta,Die Bajadere;but fortunately an excellent studio recording,conducted by,Richard Bonynge,was recently released by Cpo. More on that in another post,perhaps?!
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« Reply #637 on: June 27, 2018, 11:48:26 am »

Arrived today & playing now! The Pearl cd of,the Earl of Harewood's,acetate recordings,of the 1948 production of Britten's performing version of John Gay's The Beggars Opera. A fascinating time capsule. This has to be one of the best available recordings (if not the best,if it wasn't for sound issues) if you don't hate Pears' singing and ignore the fact that he sounds a bit too posh! Lots of atmosphere and wonderful singing and characterisation's. The sound is allot better than I expected from the reviews. Atrocious? Actually,despite some overload during the Overture that leaves you fiddling with the tone controls and a bit of that during the brief narrations (but not too bad) the recording is very clear and perfectly enjoyable. (Albeit,a bit of overload in one or two places,where the cast are all singing at full volume,in unison).And there I was,expecting it to be a struggle!! Instead,ust over 79 minutes of enjoyment! Smiley Don't be put off by gripes about sound quality......just turn down the bass a bit,before the cd starts! The Earl of Harewood obviously had a good recording set up. And no doubt he would!! He should have seen mine!! Sad Grin
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #638 on: June 27, 2018, 02:45:21 pm »

Playing here,right now. Arthur Sullivan's 1866 symphony. Known as the "Irish". Although,it only appears to have received that nickname after his death. I did have this set before,but didn't really pay much attention to the symphony,I'm afraid! This time I re-bought the set,s/h,because of the coupling;and thinking I would give Sargent's recording of Patience another chance. A 'critic' on some website,I forget which,rates this as the greatest symphony before Elgar's First. This might be due to a rush of blood to the head;but giving it my due,concerted attention now,it does seem like a fluently written and attractive work. The second movement,I am listening to now,has a lovely theme,some beautiful writing for woodwinds and sonorous horns,which really do grab the old 'ear 'oles! I seem to remember it has a rather catchy tune in the third movement. And here it is,now!! This is one of those instances where the 'fill-up' get's played first! The conductor is Sir Charles Groves.
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« Reply #639 on: June 28, 2018, 11:36:57 am »

Playing,now. The Wyn Morris Beethoven cycle continues,with his recordings of No's 7 & 8. Dubbed the "Welsh Furtwangler". There was a time when you seemed to find these IMP cd's in places like Woolworths and WH Smiths. I like André's description (at the GMG,in reply to my post,on the "What are you listening to?" thread) of Wyn Morris' conducting. "A potent mix of big, bold playing, allied to interpretive gruffness. Splendidly recorded, too". Very fiery. Yet,I like the more serene passages in the Sixth symphony. I think Wyn Morris could have been a much more famous conductor? (We'll never know!) His biographies and obituaries make very interesting reading. His personality seems to have been as gruff and fiery as his Beethoven. He seems to have destroyed his own career by rubbing everyone up the wrong way. He also got some publicity,I remember,for getting Margaret Thatcher to narrate a recording of Copland's Lincoln Portrait. I don't want to get into politics here,but I think I will give that one a miss! There does seem to be a slight renewal of interest in his work,recently. His conducting got rave reviews and critical acclaim at the time. It was all downhill,then! Sad He was also known for his Mahler. The only Mahler recording I have by him is of No 5. I like that very much. I remember the s/h cd I bought had scratches and scuff marks all over it,but always seems to play! There does seem to be a bit of a renewal of interest in his conducting,lately. Most of the comments I've read online are very positive. I have read that he used modern orchestras,but had a HIP approach. I wouldn't know about that;but I like what I'm hearing! Smiley If anyone (who hasn't heard his conducting) wants to hear his Beethoven,some of the IMP & Pickwick cd's can be found very cheaply s/h.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #640 on: June 28, 2018, 04:43:35 pm »

The Wyn Morris,Ninth might not have the best singing in a recording of the Ninth,but ooh,it was fiery! Shocked Now playing,here. George Szell conducting the Ninth. I've had the (slimline) Sony set of the Szell cycle for a while. I've listened to all the other recordings in the box,but this is the first time I've listened to the Ninth.
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dhibbard
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« Reply #641 on: June 28, 2018, 05:55:19 pm »

Finally received the Niels Gade Comala cantata "Dramatic poem after Ossian for soli, choir and orchestra. on the DACAPO label.   Just now putting in the CD player.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #642 on: June 29, 2018, 11:46:14 am »

The Ohio Light Opera 'complete' recording of Lionel Monckton(1861-1924) & Howard Talbot's The Arcadians (1909). I remember getting rid of this set because of the uneven casting. I decided instead,to make do with the 1960's emi excerpts,which are better sung! Or are they?! Well,yes,but problem! Where is the fun of the piece? Whatever the failings of this recording (many!) it does at capture some of the gaiety and humour of the piece. Also,the women,as in some of the other sets,in these unevenly cast series of recordings are actually very good! For example,cast member,Amy Warchol's lovely rendition of "Erins a spot" ("the dear little girl with a bit of a brogue"). A lovely creamy sound to her voice,and I always think is such a lovely song. I love the way the men join in with the chorus,too! The Arcadians has been described,very well,as operetta meets the (Edwardian) music hall. A very apt description. This is what marks it out from all the other post Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. One minute it's G & S style warbling,then it's like Marie Lloyd,or Burlington Bertie gatecrashed the proceedings!! (Think,Good old Days,with Leonard Sachs and Edwardian gents with Cocker-nee accents! You even get a cockney number "All down Picadilly",performed here,with probably the worst cockney accent since Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (worse?!!)! So bad it is entertaining! But the rum-ti-tum music hall style chorus is genuinely rousing. You can almost visualise the audience joining in! For my money,the best of all the post G & S operettas. The tunes are just great,and it has none of that fey quality that detracts from Edward German's,admittedly,rather charming efforts. There is an earthy,slighly raucous originality here which really does mark it out from the crowd. Sadly,the perfect recording has never been made. And maybe,now,it never will? I prefer some dialogue too;because the plot,is rather fun (Jim's plane crashes in Arcadia.Jim is transformed into shepherd,Simplicitas. Accompanied by two nymphs,returns to London,to preach Arcadian values of truth & simplicity. Londoners prefer romance,horse racing and,fashionable,restaurants!!) In a perfect world someone would have uploaded a really top-notch off-air BBC radio recording from auntie's glory years. Unfortunately,while it does seem to have been recorded (possibly twice?!) by the BBC in,the seventies,I think (?) and maybe,once again,as excerpts (?) no off air recording seems to be in circulation (not even on Youtube! Shocked Grin) so I'm just happy to have this recording. Although,according,to one (rather)unhappy Amazon 'critic',there are some cuts!! Still,it all sounds pretty enjoyable,to me (easily,pleased?!). I think I will keep it this time?!! Smiley
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #643 on: June 29, 2018, 01:52:42 pm »

For my money,the best of all the post G & S operettas.

I would rank OF THEE I SING and GIRL CRAZY up alongside them :-))  They both continue the tradition of a patter-song charlatan 'hero' who manages to get away with it :-)  The early Marx Bros musicals picked up this format - but Groucho's singing was too haphazard to carry it off, and they quickly dropped the 'musical' format.

Along with Kurt Weill's A TOUCH OF VENUS.  (For anyone who only associates Weill with banjo-driven political extremism, the show-stopping aria 'West Wind' is the stand-out lyrical barnstomer from that score :-)   By that era, a tradition had developed that the Leading Lady would be a comedy soubrette - and the 'serious' musical material was handed to the Second Lady (normally someone with a trained, operatic voice, who could carry a big melody).
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #644 on: July 15, 2018, 12:38:49 pm »

Playing here,now! (And since last night!) I love Holbrooke's orchestration. It's just so gorgeous. The "Auld lang Syne" Variations show off his ear for darkly,slightly gothic,late romanticism,at it's (near) best. Yes,it rambles a bit,but it's the orchestration that keeps me listening. It really tickles the old ear drums! The "Grasshopper" concerto is a lovely work. No wonder it's,probably,his most recorded work (in it's various guises). I adore the leaping motif that,apparently,gives the Violin concerto it's nickname. It is also one of his most well constructed works. Long term,thematic developement not being one of Holbrooke's strongest points (based on the available,recorded,evidence). The collection rounds off with his tone poem The Raven. You can practically hear the bird tapping on the window pane. Holbrooke loved,and lived,Edgar Allan Poe,and no one captured the atmosphere quite as effectively as Holbrooke. If Beecham had managed to record The Raven and Ulalume (he did talk about recording Holbrooke towards the end of his career) it's possible that Holbrooke's story might have been a little different. Although,not that different,I fear! This is,probably,the best collection of Holbrooke to appear on cd,to my mind. I'm really looking forward to the third release in this series,which will include the third symphony "ships",with the same orchestra and Howard Griffiths at the helm. A magnificent series and I'm so grateful to Cpo,Howard Griffiths (and Holbrooke champion,Gareth Vaughan) for what they have been doing for this wonderful (imho! Grin) composer!

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