Sunday morning music

While I was in hospital last week, a reader sent me the link to a new music video by Russian trio (and occasional quartet) Silenzium.  They appear to be a living definition of “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle” (or, in this case, “Don’t sell the music, sell the sexy!”). I’d never heard of them, so I looked them up.  Last.fm says of them: Silenzium was created in 2004 by young musicians from Novosibirsk Philharmonic Society. Silenzium is a classical string quartet with the addition of a contrabass and a drum set, which breaks all the stereotypes about a traditional sound of a

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Sunday morning music

I had a very long day yesterday, driving down to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex with my wife to meet new friends.  We had a great time, but arrived home quite late, thanks to Saturday evening traffic down south.  (Living up here in north Texas, we sometimes lose sight of how nice it is to live in communities small enough that rush hour lasts twenty minutes or so, and never stops moving!) That didn’t leave me much time to think about this morning’s post.  As a placeholder, and because I found myself listening to it a lot this week (food for

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Sunday morning music

The advent of so-called “progressive rock” in the late 1960’s and 1970’s added a whole new category to modern music, which spurred innovation and excess in almost equal dimensions.  It was my musical milieu of choice in my younger days, and many of the groups and performers of that era remain standard-bearers in my personal collection.  (In other words, I’m a stick-in-the-mud, musically speaking.  Yes, guilty as charged.  Get over it!) One of the super-groups of that time was Renaissance, from Britain.  They combined elements of the hippie culture, drugs, folk music, rock, and even orchestral, classical influences, making them almost

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Sunday morning music

Alessandro Scarlatti was one of the major Italian baroque composers, with a prodigious output, particularly early operas.  However, his instrumental pieces are nothing to sneeze at.  I’ve picked two of his shorter works this morning;  you’ll find many more on YouTube if you like them. First, here’s his Sonata for Flute, Strings and B.C. No.22 and No.23. Next, here’s a live performance of his Concerto Grosso No. 3, played by the La Spagna baroque orchestra.  You’ll note how much smaller a baroque orchestra is compared to a modern one, and how many instruments didn’t exist in those musical times. I hope

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Sunday morning music

I don’t know whether to call this morning’s selections “upbeat” or just plain “offbeat”, but I decided to have a little mixed classical/modern/rock/metal fun, with a few wild cards thrown in. Jean Sibelius‘ tone poem “Finlandia” has, since its first performance in 1900, been beloved by Finns.  He later reworked its final section into the stand-alone “Finlandia Hymn“, which has been performed in many ways on many instruments, used as the melody for a number of hymns and anthems, and has become iconic in its own right. Let’s begin with a performance of the entire piece by the BBC Singers,

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Sunday morning music

Maddy Prior is a legend in her own lifetime to English folk music enthusiasts.  Lead vocalist for Steeleye Span, a solo artist with a prolific output, and performer with many other individuals and groups (including Mike Oldfield, Strawbs, and many others), she’s a modern icon of the field.  I have a lot of her music, solo and with others, and enjoy it very much. Back in 1999, she released her solo album “Ravenchild“.  Among more traditional music, it contains a six-song cycle about ravens.  For those of you who have never read about the bird, it repays attention.  When I was courting Miss D. in

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Sunday morning music

Bert Jansch (who died in 2011) was, despite his German surname, a Scottish musician, the descendant of Victorian-era immigrants to that country.  He was very well-known in British folk music and guitar circles, both for his extensive solo career and as a member of Pentangle in its various incarnations from the 1960’s until his death.  His guitar work is particularly noteworthy, having influenced many of the greats in that field for decades. Here are just a few samples from his very large output over the years.  I’ve concentrated the short pieces on his instrumental works, with one notable exception.  His 60th birthday concert

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Sunday morning music

Here’s something rather different, courtesy of Australian reader Snoggeramus.  It’s the famous “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville” . . . played on a rubber chicken! So help me, I’ll never be able to get my hair cut again with a straight face . . . Peter

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You want an earworm? I got your earworm right here!

In e-mail correspondence with an overseas contact, whose native language is not English, he asked at one point “What is an ‘earworm‘?”  Well, of course, I volunteered to provide an example!  As a matter of fact, it’s one I blogged about in 2015, when I first encountered it.  (The comments at that earlier blog post are worth reading, too.) At any rate, here’s Austrian “DJ Ötzi” with his (in)famous “Burger Dance”, which went gold in Germany and hit #1 on the charts there (why, I don’t know!).  His teenybopper audience appear to be singing right along, and getting into the spirit of the

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Sunday morning music

I’d never heard of Canadian rock group Big Wreck until I read this article in The Week a – well, a few weeks ago!  The author wrote: Contemporary pop music sounds impeccable, but less because musicianship has improved than because advances in digital recording technology have made it possible to eliminate imperfections and achieve inhuman standards of flawlessness in every vocal line, drum fill, and guitar solo. The result is pristine. But also antiseptic. Bloodless. Songwriting, meanwhile, has reverted to an updated version of the pre-rock Brill Building model, with committees of pros called in to collaborate on sugary confections packed full of hooks

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