Day 353: Songs V

BrahmsCD47In 1978, British progressive-rock musician Jeff Wayne released an album called Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds in which the story – and the songs – are interspersed by narration.

Today’s Brahms CD reminded me of that album because it, too, is a song cycle interspersed by narration.

Granted, the narration on Brahms CD 47 is in German so I can’t understand a word of it. But it’s narration nonetheless.

The Composition:

Romanzen Op. 33 (30 tracks)

The Performers:

Hartmut Volle narrator

Michael Volle baritone

Adrian Baianu piano

According to the Gramophone web site:

Brahm’s Magelone Lieder have, with a few exceptions, never been among his most popular, perhaps because they relate too closely to the somewhat scented romanticism of Tieck’s novella. Performances of the cycle are rare, performances with narrator are still rarer…

War-Of-The-WorldsI Googled Brahms’ Romanzen (“romantic”) composition and I discovered very little about it, other than what I quoted above.

The IMSLP web site indicates that this was written in 1861-1869. Kind of vague. If it’s true, Brahms was 28-36.

Which, incidentally, was the same age as Jeff Wayne was when he created his War of the Worlds album.

Day 306: The Great Gatsby (2013)

2949000564366_p0_v1_s600Now this is a great Great Gatsby.

I’m not even a fan of Baz Lurhmann, who directed this 2013 adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. Lurhmann is a hyper-kinetic director whose style often becomes a distraction.

You see, that’s my biggest pet peeve when it comes to movies.

When the director’s camera becomes another character in the film (for example, when hand-held camera work makes a movie so jerky one gets nauseous attempting to watch it), I immediately lose interest. I walked out of The Hunger Games for that very reason. It was impossible to watch.

In Lurhmann’s case, his fanciful, over-the-top settings, quick cuts, and boisterous music make movies I would never number among my favorites.

Except for this one.

This adaptation of The Great Gatsby offers the best Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), the best Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), the best Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), the best Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), the best Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki), and the best George Wilson (Jason Clarke).

It also offers the best acting, the most compelling cinematography, the best costumes, the best lighting, and the best narration of any of the previous three Gatsby adaptations.

Lurhamnn’s Gatsby is electric. It crackles with a palpable energy that permeates every scene.

In short, it is Continue reading