Driving home following the Allyson concert (and a fine hang over a good glass of Washington wine), I turned on the radio. The classical station was playing Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. As I crested a hill, there was the full moon, filling half the sky. At that moment, the orchestra reached the horn arietta in the second movement, the one that inspired Andre Kostelanetz to steal from Peter Ilyitch and write “Moon Love.” In the video clip below, Leonard Bernstein conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Although the “Moon Love” melody comes at 7:30, I strongly urge you to watch the entire clip to appreciate how Bernstein and the BSO build to the moment. The clip ends prematurely, but what we get is splendid.
To hear what Chet Baker did in 1953 with the standard song based on the Tchaikovsky melody, click here, then on the play arrow in the box at the upper right of your screen. This is a prime example of a jazz artist recognizing that, sometimes, unadulterated melody is the purest statement he can make. The pianist is Russ Freeman, the bassist Carson Smith, the drummer Larry Bunker.