Slipped disc: December 2007 Archives
For those still filling in their worst-ever classical Christmas track, there's a late surge of support for Robert Alagna's Sleigh Ride Medley on DG's We Wish You A Merry Xmas album. No more egregious assault on English language and cadence has been heard since the late King Lucy slaughtered cod lyrics to Adolphe Adam's Cantique de Noel - dee star (sic) are brytlee shyning, eet ees dee nyte - in duet with Crown Prince Placido on untouchable Sony.
There's also a specially written slice of mince on that selfsame album by Placido Domingo Jr - well, it's the season when families get together, isn't it?
By popular demand, lines for your worst-ever votes remain open til New Year's Eve.
And those of you slumped before a UK telly at teatime on Xmas Eve can see a fine BBC2 doc on King Lucy's greater moments.
My recent book, The Life and Death of Classical Music, contains an analysis of the 20 worst classical records ever made. Colin Larkin (see press release below) has appended the 100 worst pop records to his outstanding and important Encyclopedia of Popular Music, which goes online from next week (see below once more).
Among Colin's 100 worst are seven chilling Xmas albums. My list had room only for Kiri at Christmas, although a new compilation from Sony came tantalisingly close. Has there ever been a less festive track than Charlotte Church trilling Dong Dong Merrily on High with the London Symphony Orchestra? Or Bobby McFerrin's Ave Maria? Or Josh Bell's Ave Maria, with a ghostly background chorus? Oh look, and here's Kiri again with Andre at the piano...
You've heard worse?
Tell me about it, right here. Lines are open til Midnight Mass.
The discreet charm of Arthur Rubinstein, discussed in my current column, provokes this memory from an audience member at his first international piano competition:
Emanuel Ax won and everyone got terribly pompous and aware of The Great Occasion, Rubi stood up and said to Ax something like: As the lucky winner you get a medal with my profile!
Just in case he forgets who's number one...
I was sorry to read (on www.musicalamerica.com) that Harry Kraut had died. In a job designed for doormats, Harry stood up combatively to Leonard Bernstein, whose business affairs he managed from 1972, and did his best to curb his excesses. Discreet as a trappist, he gave no quarter to journalists or biographers and kept publishers, orchestras and festival organisers at an appropriate arm's length. Meryle Secrest, Lenny's most objective biographer, thought he bore a passing resemblance to the maestro's father.
I wonder what Harry would have made of the coming Bernstein Festival announced this week by Carnegie Hall and the NY Phil, an over-the-top celebration of Lenny's 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his New York accession. All-embracing, all-forgiving, it presents some of his most egregious compositions alongside the more thoughtful and lasting legacies. Sentiment, it seems, has finally got the upper hand.
Hot ticket at next summer's Salzburg Festival is Gounod's Romeo and Juliet with Paris Hilton and Jonny Depp in the title roles - sorry, make that Netrebko and Villazon. Both dumped on Salzburg with last-minute cancellations last summer, so don't book yet. Myself, I'd check the pedigree of the understudies before making smmer plans.
Over at the Landestheater a week later, London's National Theatre will be staging David Hare's production of Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking with Vanessa Redgrave as the elderly writer recovering from her husband's death (as premiered last March in New York). I'm guessing that this is Vanessa's Salzburg debut and I do hope she won't feel constrained in run-up interviews from venting her well-known views on poverty and Third World liberation movements at the plump industrialist couples in the $200 seats, or at the plump opera singers whose fee will be ten times hers. For the first time this century, a little frisson of controversy is returning to the summer fest.
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog