Saturday, January 09, 2021

BOOKS READ IN 2020

Here are the books I read in 2020. Do I think I'm showing off? Maybe a little. It's my privilege to convene a monthly book-show broadcast on WOSU 89-7 NPR News (third Friday of the month, 11 am) I can use that as an excuse for keeping track. In such a difficult years, books were more company and more of a comfort than ever.

This was the year of reading fived of the six Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope. You need to have an obsession with Victorian era politics to make your way comfortably through these. I don't have that. Somewhat tedious, but like running a seven minute mile-something I'll never do-reading this demanding series seemed like a challenge. 

I delighted to discover the Chicago based author  Brian Doyle, and dismayed to learn of his early passing. His novel' Chicago' was a rip snorting delight, God rest his soul.

I read Cleanness by Garth Greenwell on the elliptical at the gym, when we could still go to the gym. Parts of it shocked even me.

Conversations with Beethoven by Sanford Friedman was brilliant. The composer was deaf. What we have here are the written notes given to him by his inimaters, friends and enemies over twenty years  until is death in 1827. Replies are implied, often hilarious.   


In my sixties I finally read Kerouac, and the memoirs of Arthur Rubinstein and Pablo Casals. I'm not related to author James Purdy. His volume of short stories was a delight. One pundit called these, "like a box of poisoned chocolates. Closer to home I discovered Louis Bromfield.

If 2020 has exhausted and discouraged you, I found this book a wonderful balm:



Here are a few of my favorites read in 2020:  



James Purdy







An asterisk * means I really enjoyed the book. **** means hysteria.

You'll note some web addresses to cut and paste. I urge you to do so if you want to know more. I include these because I forget what I've read two days after finishing a book. Does this happen to you?

BOOKS READ IN 2020:

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (fire children)

The Adversary by Edmond Carerre (Jean-Claude Romand)

The Mutations by Jorge Comensal (Ramon, cancer parrot)

Janis Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren

****Chicago by Brian Doyle    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25663660-chicago

****One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder by Brian Doyle

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/books/review/one-long-river-of-song-brian-doyle.html

Long Bright River by Liz Moore  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43834909-long-bright-river

Cleanness by Garth Greenwell https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/09/books/garth-greenwell-cleanness.html

The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson 

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/olaf-olafsson/the-sacrament-olafsson/

*When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46205807-when-we-were-vikings

**On the Road by Jack Kerouac

*Dear Edward Ann Napolitano

A Drink Before War by Dennis Lehane

Secret Guests by Benjamin Black https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45186564-the-secret-guests

Sidney Lumet: A Life by Maura Spiegel

The Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Given Day by Denis Lehane


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHCzJxAlF70


Dangerous Melodies: Classical Music in America from the Great War through the Cold War by Jonathan Rosenberg

The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood, by Donna Rifkind.


*’’This is Happiness’’ Niall Williams 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42972008-this-is-happiness

Since We Fell  Dennis Lehane

 

American Dirt Jeannine Cummins

Brother and Sister: A Memoir by Diane Keaton

*Conversations with Beethoven  Sanford Friedman

Speak Peace in a World of Conflict by Marshall Rosenberg (NVC)

The Wanderers Richard Price

   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wanderers_(Price_novel)

 

Tightrope Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn

 

-----C-19 Quarantine March 17 2020---

Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait by Alison Weir

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

Collected Stories by Ernest Hemingway

An Infinity of Little Hours by Nancy Klein MacGregor

In Praise of the Useless Life by Brother Paul Quenon

The Mirror and the Light Hilary Mantel

*Broken, Novellas by Don Winslow

Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson

Can You Forgive Her? Anthony Trollope (Palliser I)

Queen Mary James Pope-Hennessey

*The Complete Stories of James Purdy

    https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-087140-669-9

Pablo Casals by H.L. Kirk

My Young Years Arthur Rubinstein

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

   http://hidden-valley-road.com/

(Back to work during Covid-19; Mayu 18)

Phineas Phinn by Anthony Trollope (Palliser 2)

Actress by Anne Enright

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe

Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century by John Loughery and Blythe Randolph

*I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

***At the Center of all Beauty:  Solitude and the Creative Life by Fenton Johnson

  https://www.fentonjohnson.com/books/at-the-center-of-all-beauty/


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otmv2oOX1pg


*The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45754981-the-glass-hotel

Gather Together in My Name  by Maya Angelou

*Motion of the Body Falling Through Space by Lionel Shriver

   https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/may/08/the-motion-of-the-body-through-space-by-lionel-shriver-review-the-cult-of-fitness

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

*The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance during the Blitz by Erik Larson

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/03/books/review/night-watchman-louise-erdrich.html

 

Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen (Six Tudor Queens #5)

by Alison Weir

Miss Austen by Gil Hornby

This is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World—and Me by Marisa Metzer

Lady in Waiting: MY Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner

White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo

   https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/a-sociologist-examines-the-white-fragility-that-prevents-white-americans-from-confronting-racism

 

Living with the Monks, What turning off my Phone Taught me About Happiness, Gratitude and Focus by Jesse Itzler

The Lives of Isaac Stern by David Schoenbaum

The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love and Meaning by Scott Galloway

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32920226-sing-unburied-sing

Too Much and Never Enough How my Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump

*Black Boy by Richard Wright

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/228630.Black_Boy

 

The Silver Swan In Search of Doris Duke by Sallie Bingham

The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality and Me by Nikki Meredith

*Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor               

         https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41723505-shadowplay

The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope  (Palliser III)

***The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution by Stephen Heyman

 

*The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11337.The_Bluest_Eye

 

In Search of Queen Mary Pope-Hennessy ed. Hugo Vickers

 

More Than Love: An intimate portrait of my mother, Natalie Wood by Natasha Gregson Wagner  

*The Equivalents: A Story of Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s by Maggie Doherty

   https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/555915/the-equivalents-by-maggie-doherty/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzjJimcjAHg

The House of Kennedy by James Patterson


*The Patient by Jasper DeWitt

Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield

Execution: A Giordano  Bruno Mystery by SJ Parris  (Babington Plot)

Serenade by James M. Cain

Odetta A Life in Music and Protest by Ian Zack

Those who Leave and Those who Stay Elena Ferrante (Neapolitan novel 3)

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

 

Raising A Rare Girl A Memoir by Lanier, Heather Kirn

    The author's daughter was born with a very rare genetic syndrome and faced a daunting prognosis: she would be a fraction of normal size, have innumerable physical and mental difficulties and likely a shortened lifespan. Now, at age eight she is attending standard public school classes. This is the story of her family's journey.

Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by Nicholas A. Basbanes

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (Neapolitan novel 1)

The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe

Dean Dixon: Negro and Conductor by Rufus Jones

*Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52741293-shuggie-bain

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40164365-the-friend?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=Tf1iXCKJxx&rank=1

A Star in Bored by Byron Lane (Carrie Fisher)

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43890641-hamnet

 

 

*Squeeze Me by Carl Hiassen

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50644565-squeeze-me?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=2RB1AyuEOf&rank=3

 

*The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes

    https://uk.style.yahoo.com/wild-laughter-caoilinn-hughes-review-063006413.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAC53kO1KmKSFAbuOyjZXRWiYIGyLkw3jozMJNZXFEht804-HN5I8IPimjA-36jJo_tE4b-KACNECr7J-69ne7gNxJ0ZsIIeZ_7Ix5Uv9NZwdlpuVozPOA7sdXzVQsvMFhPwBo6FMOL3fTC48PdxRrWLWJiGq2iJXq5HSoGhKvHcT

 

Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope (Palliser 4)

 

The Queen’s Secret by Karen Harper (Queen Mum WWII)

Rage Bob Woodward

The Evening and the Morning Ken Follett

Mantel Pieces Hilary Mantel

Chasing the Light by Oliver Stone

Mephisto by Klaus Mann

*The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45186556-the-other-bennet-sister

 

The Beauty in Breaking by Michelle Harper

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50043108-the-beauty-in-breaking

*Jesus: A Life by A.N. Wilson

****The Volunteer by Salvatore Scibona

   https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/566535/the-volunteer-by-salvatore-scibona/

 

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51946068-the-red-lotus

*We Germans by Alexander Starritt

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50358112-we-germans

 

A Time for Mercy by John Grisham

*A Saint From Texas by Edmund White

     https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/aug/10/a-saint-from-texas-by-edmund-white-review-a-delicious-salacious-romp

The Eyes of the Queen by Oliver Clements

Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handel’s Masterpiece by Jonathan Keates

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51933429-the-guest-list

 

The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope (Palliser 5)

Shelter in Place by David Leavitt

      https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/shelter-in-place-9781620404874/

This is not my memoir by Andre Gregory

 

 

Missionaries by Phil Klay

   https://www.npr.org/2020/10/08/921194920/phil-klays-new-missionaries-is-an-ambitious-novel-of-ideas

Five for Sorrow Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden

*Deacon King Kong by James McBride

   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51045613-deacon-king-kong

 

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Oper auf Deutsch







Many years ago,
the supermarket closest to my childhood home had a huge bin up by the cash
registers. In most stores, these would contain candy, gum, shampoo or whatever
last minute purchases one didn’t need that were too yummy to ignore. Had I been
older back then I would have sought out and befriended the manager. You had to
look elsewhere for Ring-dings and Milky Ways (and I did). This big box
contained “classical music” LPs. That’s short for long-playing records for
those of you born after 1980. Records are…oh, never mind.

It was in
the Stop and Shop in Lexington Massachusetts that I bought, for forty-nine cents
each, LPS of Beethoven symphonies, Mozart piano sonatas and Puccini operas. All
you needed to do was dive in while your mother bought the coffee, pot roast and
toothpaste. You’d find Madama Butterfly and the Polovtsian Dances. If you were lucky,
there’d be a mass by Schubert.

One day I came
up with a single LP of scenes from Verdi’s opera Aida. This was something I
knew. We had studied Aida in school.  I
paid my forty-nine cents and took the record home.

What did I hear?
Leontyne Price? Maria Callas and Richard Tucker? No. I heard a recording made
in Vienna, sung in German. At least I thought it eras German. I was sure it was
not Verdi’s Italian. The sound quality of these cheap records (forty-nine cents
wasn’t a lot even in 1969) was pretty good. I had never heard of any of the
singers, but I kept listening.

I went for
more. That supermarket bin, if you really dived, had lots more single LP
highlights, of La boheme, Rigoletto, Barber of Seville, and some pieces I didn’t
know, among them Tiefland and Zar und Zimmerman. I bought them all.

I played
them so often that I forgot that Der Barbier von Sevilla was really Il barbiere
di siviglia-The Barber of Seville. I fell in love with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene
Onegin, ten years before I knew it was written in Russian not German.

I knew the
marquee named singers of the time, Callas, Tebaldi, Corelli, Tucker,  Price, Merrill, und so weiter. 

I was learning
to love, at forty-nine cents a pop, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Fritz Wunderlich,
Evelyn Lear, Hans Hotter and Irmgard Seefried.

Fast forward
fifty years. I get an email recently advertising a 15 CD set called Opera auf
Deutsch. And there, compete are all of the albums I bought in 1969-1970. The sound
quality better than ever. Fischer-Dieskau, Wunderlich, Lear, Hotter and
Seefried are all in heaven now. So are the beautiful voices I loved then and
knew less: Gloria Davy (WONDERFUL American soprano) Sandor Konya, Ernst
Haelfiger and Rita Streich.

There they
are, all singing in German, as if you were hearing a performance in Mannheim or
Pforzheim (not Hamburg or Vienna). Those smaller German cities had very high
standards judging from these recordings.

I’m not sure
I want to sit through Aida or Rigoletto other than in Italian. But to be taken
back fifty years, for less than forty bucks for a 15 CD set, to hear a
masterful production of Eugene Onegin, an excellent Aida and Rigoletto, and a
lot more, well, I’m delighted that DGG has seen fit to return these Opera in
German performances to the catalog. They are every bit as enjoyable as that box
of Ring Dings at the check-out counter, and the pleasure lasts forever.




Monday, January 14, 2019

BOOKS READ IN 2018

Hosting All Sides Weekend: Books on WOSU 89-7 NPR News is always a joy. My thanks to Kassie Rose and Robin Nesbitt who are the 'regular' anchors of this program. Their passion and love for books informs everything great about the show.

The following list reflects some of their choices, and some of mine, and some of our listeners. The revival of the opera Adriana Lecouvreur had me reading a book I've owned since 1972 for the first time, Jack Richtman's Adrienne Lecouvreur. The mildew smell was my fault, not Jack or Adrienne's

This was the year the Michelle Obama worked hard to bring decency back to the political discourse with Becoming. Thank you Mrs. Obama.

Rebecca Makkai's searing The Great Believers  brought us back to the early days of the AIDS crisis. Those of us who remember got a shiver, but kept turning the pages. Makkai skillfully keeps us between the 1980s and today.

Two thousand eighteen was the year of The Great American Read. PBS provided TV specials and the opportunity to vote for favorite novels. Thousand participated, and the final vote went to To Kill a Mockingbird.  I'm grateful that my beloved A Confederacy of Dunces lasted several rounds.



TGAR encouraged me to read Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolpho Anaya, often called the first Latino novel. First or not, it is a beautiful book.
I was delighted to read for the second time John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.  (At my age, I'm trying not to re-read. Clock's ticking)

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in Silicon Valley by John Carreyou is a real life thriller. A page turner.

My favorite of all for 2018 was The Overstory  by Richard Powers. A long and dense-in a great way-novel where trees are the protagonist. This will change your worldview for the better.


   * Favorite
    ** Great American Read (PBS)
         + interviewed author


   
    
 Origin by Dan Brown
+The Encore: A Memoir in Three Acts by Charity Tilleman-Dick
The Senator’s Children by Nicholas Montemarano (John Edwards)

*Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Hacks by Donna Brazile
*The Force by Don Winslow (Denny Malone)
Promise me, Dad Joe Biden

Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting by John Mauceri

*Homegoing  by Yaa Gyasi (Africa)

Flash and Fury by Michael Woolf

Balancing Acts: Inside National Theatre by Nicholas Hytner
Conducting Business: Unveiling the Mystery Behind the Maestro Leonard Slatkin

Sense of Occasion by Harold Prince


Exit West Moshin Hamid
The Cartel Don Winslow
+The Immortalists Chloe Benjamin

The House of Impossible Beauties Joseph Cassara

*Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music James Rhodes

Heir Apparent: Life of the Playboy Prince Edward VII Jane Ridley

Munich by Robert Harris
Reading With Patrick by Michelle Kuo
Endurance by Scott Kelly
The Seven Storey Mountain Thomas Merton

The Magdalen Martyrs Ken Bruen
Priest Ken Bruen



Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in young America by Catherine Kerrison

Reservoir 13 Jon McGregor

*And After the Fire (Bach-Mendelssohn) Lauren Belfer

*Grant Ron Chernow

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L’Engle

The Perfect Nanny by Leah Slimani
The Rooster Bar John Grisham

All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez James Patterson


Purgatory by Ken Bruen
Green Hell by Ken Bruen

The Savior Eugene Drucker

The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Ring-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs. Ed Asner

My Father’s Wake by Kevin Toolis

Red Hot Mama: The Life of Sophie Tucker by Lauren Rebeca Sklaroff



Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany Norman Ohler

*An American Marriage Tyari Jones

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson
A Higher Loyalty James Comey
In the Enemies House: The Secret Saga of the FBI Agent and the Codebreaker who Caught the Russian Spies by Howard Blum

Mrs. By Caitlyn Macy
Alternate Side Anna Quindlen
Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein by Todd S. Purdum
Unmasked Andrew Lloyd Webber

**The Stand by Stephen King
**Little Women Louisa May Alcott

Varina by Charles Frazier (Mrs. Jefferson Davis)
**Frankenstein Mary Shelly

Sweet and Low by Nick White


*****The Overstory Richard Powers



*Property: stories between two novellas Lionel Shriver
(“The Chandelier” “The Subletter” “Domestic Terrorism”)

Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World by Eileen McNamara
Sometimes I Lie by Ann Feeney
The Woman in the Window A.J. Finn

**Bless Me, Ultima Rudolpho Anaya

Robin (Williams) Dave Itzkof

**And then There Were None Agatha Christie

Rogue Lawyer John Grisham
Mary Pickford: The Woman who created the Movies by Eileen Whitfield

"The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations," by John McCain

** The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
**Goodbye Columbus Phillip Roth

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
My Girls Todd Fisher
Gray Mountain John Grisham

*On the Road and Off the Record with Leonard Bernstein by Charlie Harmon

The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper

*The Great Believers Rebecca Makkai



The Outsider Steven King
Darkness Visible William Styron
Unhinged Omorosa

**Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Stranger Albert Camus

+Wallis in Love by Andrew Morton

Humboldt’s Gift Saul Bellow
Jennie Gerhardt Theodore Dreiser
Unnecessary Roughness: Trial of Aaron Hernandez Jose Baez
Beethoven’s Tenth by Richard Kluger
Providence by Caroline Kempner
The Cloister James Carroll
Betty Ford by Lisa McCubbin

The Big Game: Inside the NFL in Dangerous Times Mark Leibovitch
The Girl on the Balcony Olivia Hussey
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Fear by Bob Woodward

*****A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

*Ticker: The quest to create an artificial heart by Mimi Swarz
*Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman

The First Family Michael and Daniel Palmer
Gone So Long Andre by Dubus III

*Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in Silicon Valley John Carryeou



Life in Pieces by Sally Field
Handel by Christopher Hogwood

*Hallelujah! The story of musical genius and the city that brought a masterpiece to life Stephen Bardon

*Ohio Stephen Markley

November Road by Lou Berney
*Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret Craig Brown


*Becoming Michelle Obama



Nine Perfect Strangers Liane Moriarty
Elevation Stephen King
Dinner at Camelot: Joseph Esposito
Vanity Fair Thackeray

The President is Missing James Patterson and Bill Clinton
*The Essential Composers Anthony Tommasini
There Will be No Miracles Here Casey Gerald

*Ladder to the Sky John Boyne
The Reckoning John Grisham

Novotna My Life in Song Jarmila Novotna
Gun, with Occasional Music Jonathan Lethem

Adrienne Lecouvreur Jack Richtman

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Favorite Recordings in 2018






These are the recordings that came my way in 2018 brought me the most joy. They are the performances to which I return repeatedly. Take a listen! 

In addition, by all means, post your own favorites, in any genre on this blog. I can always use more favorites.

Happy New Year to all!

Anthony Roth Costanzo with Les Violons du Roy conducted by Jonathan Cohen. Muisc by Handel and Glass.

Countertenors? God spare me. Give me a hooty mezzo-soprano any day.
And yet.

I’ve always loved wonderful singing, especially when combined with superb musicianship. Think Callas. Think Fischer-Dieskau. Think Anthony Roth Costanzo.
Gold star to whoever thought of combining Handel and Glass. Costanzo uses his voice to make beauty and project words, not to show off. Jonathan Cohen conducts Les Violins du Roy and whoever the king is, I hope he’s good to this band. I especially love the last two tracks, Handel’s Ombra mai fu (a.k.a Handel’s Largo) and theHymn to the Sun from Glass’s Akhnanten. Pharaoh, Gods, and Anthony. Winners all.






Veni Domine: Advent and Christmas at the Sistine Chapel
Palestrina: Pope Marcellus Mass
Sistine Chapel Choir conducted by Massimo Palombella.

Need a bliss out? Do you want to forget political attack ads, DJT, broccoli and the like? These two new releases from the Choir of the Sistine Chapel are for you.
Veni Domine presents chant and sacred motets by Palestrina, Josquin, Victoria and Allegri. For centuries, this music was never heard outside of the Vatican. The teenage Mozart wrote down the Miserere by Allegri and smuggled it out to the world. 
Today, we have state of the art recorded technology to make this beauty widely available.

Palestrina’s Mass honors Pope Marcellus II, who reigned for three weeks in 1555 and then dropped dead. He earned his place in history from this sublime mass that honors him.



Child Alice by David Del Tredici
Boston Modern Orchestra Project conducted by Gil Rose, with Courtney Budd, soprano

I took a composition class with David Del Tredici at Boston University over forty years ago. He was wild and naughty then, and brilliant, and during a recent interview, he was still all of those things! 

Del Tredici happily admits to an obsession with Lewis Carroll’s Alice. Child Alice is a huge symphony, almost too big to perform! The movement titles alone are enticing: Simple Alice, Triumphant Alice, Ecstatic Alice, Quaint Events, Happy Voices and All in a Golden Afternoon



The work holds no terrors for the accomplished Boston Modern Orchestra Project conducted by Gil Rose. Courtney Budd is Alice. Who else has the skill to sing these lines? Superb engineering and packaging. Any release by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project is worth knowing better. It a fantastic journey. Try it.

Matthew Shepard was the young gay man murdered outside of Casper, Wyoming in October of 1998. He was savagely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die. He lingered for a few days and never regained consciousness.

Craig Hella Johnson, conductor of the superb Conspirare Choir, has written an oratorio called Considering Matthew Shepard. It’s a hymn of grief and reconciliation (I wouldn’t have minded more rage) The horrible details of the murder are not shirked. The texts are by Leslea Newman, Michael Dennis Browne, Craig Hella Johnson, Judy Shepard and Rabinranath Tagore.





Here’s a work that invokes the big sky of Wyoming, the crime, the trial and the grief. It’s not a tragic work. Considering Matthew Shepard is a mediation on what happened, and what must never happen again.

TWO MORE "FROM THE VAULTS:"

Wagner: Die Walkure Act 1 and Act 3 Hans Knappertsbush and Sir Georg Solti conductors. Vienna Philharmonic, with Kirsten Flagstad (Sieglinde and Brunnhilde) Set Svanholm (Siegmund) Arnold Van Mill (Hunding) Otto Edelman (Wotan) Marianne Schech (Sieglinde)

Decca lured Kirsten Flagstad back into the recording studios in the mid-1950s. As a result, we have the sixty-year-old Flagstad in stereo sound singing some of her best roles. She may be older, but who can surpass the beauty of this voice? To the charge her Sieglinde is matronly I say, thank God for matrons.



Boito: Mefistofele (selections) Cesare Siepi, Renata Tebaldi, Giuseppe di Stefano. Chorus and Orchestra of the Academy of St. Cecilia, Rome conducted by Tullio Serafin.

There’s a wonderful complete recording of Boito’s opera on the market with the above cast except with Mario del Monaco as Faust. Apparently, di Stefano was first choice but for whatever reason didn’t finish the recording. Here he is, still splendid in 1958, with Tebaldi and Siepi in their primes.  Wouldn’t you like to live in an age where a del Monaco could be brought in to replace a di Stefano?

And don't miss:

Prettye Yende, soprano:  Dreams music by Meyerbeer, Bellni, Donizetti and Gounod

Javier Camarena, tenor 'Contrabandusta'  music by Manuel Garcia,Rossi and Zingarelli




Friday, July 06, 2018

Jessye Norman Interview, Perhaps Some Controversy



"If I were to have these decisions about not going to countries because I disagree with the political situations, I think I would have stayed home a lot," Jessye Norman told Channel 1 in Israel in 2016.
"I think we need to understand, and admit, that these feelings always existed just under the surface, and what they needed was permission to be released," Norman said.
I recently stumbled upon this extended interview with the American soprano on YouTube:
was permission to be released," Norman said.
I recently stumbled upon this extended interview with the American soprano on YouTube:

Anyone who listens to Norman sing, or who has read her book, "Stand Up Straight and Sing!", knows she is very aware of the turmoil inherent in any life well lived.
I have never heard her speak so passionately — perhaps controversially — about world affairs. Norman did this interview during the last presidential campaign in the United States. She spoke about American politics, her view of the United States at the time, not performing Wagner in Israel and the worlds' continued bondage to racism.
Whether you agree with these views, this is an antidote to the stereotypical "And then I sang" interview attributed to classical singers.



Anyone who listens to Norman sing, or who has read her book, "Stand Up Straight and Sing!", knows she is very aware of the turmoil inherent in any life well lived.
I have never heard her speak so passionately — perhaps controversially — about world affairs. Norman did this interview during the last presidential campaign in the United States. She spoke about American politics, her view of the United States at the time, not performing Wagner in Israel and the worlds' continued bondage to racism.
Whether you agree with these views, this is an antidote to the stereotypical "And then I sang" interview attributed to classical singers.
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Anyone who listens to Norman sing, or who has read her book, "Stand Up Straight and Sing!", knows she is very aware of the turmoil inherent in any life well lived.
I have never heard her speak so passionately — perhaps controversially — about world affairs. Norman did this interview during the last presidential campaign in the United States. She spoke about American politics, her view of the United States at the time, not performing Wagner in Israel and the worlds' continued bondage to racism.
Whether you agree with these views, this is an antidote to the stereotypical "And then I sang" interview attributed to classical singers.
TAGS: