Category Archives: my favorite music

Broadway musicals

 

 

 

 

The great era of Broadway musicals, in my humble opinion, was the 1940s and 50s. Today’s hits are poor successors.

This music is in my and my siblings’ blood. My father was involved in such shows and music as a conductor and orchestra member in summer stock and theatrical group productions. The music was constantly playing in our house on LPs and on the piano — by my parents, my older brother, and my father; and I attended rehearsals over which my father presided as musical director.

My older brother would sit down at the piano — I always liked the way he played, with feeling and taste — and play a piece such as “My Time of Day” from Guys and Dolls. And I would develop an appreciation for the song.

My father was amused by the character in Guys and Dolls Nicely-Nicely Johnson and by the opening “Whadaya Talk Whadaya Talk Whadaya Talk” sequence in The Music Man, which I saw performed at the Carousel Theatre in Framingham, Massachusetts with my father in the orchestra. My father found it amusing that in Camelot, which I also saw at the Carousel Theatre with my father performing, Merlin doesn’t age, he “youth-eths.” My mother loved the song “Come to Me, Bend Me” from Brigadoon.

My father said that he considered My Fair Lady to be a perfect work. He pointed out that the song “Good Night My Someone” from The Music Man was the same melody as “Seventy Six Trombones” with only the tempo changed.

I have posted a few of my all-time favorite songs here. Many of them, upon repeated hearings,  produce a lump in my throat. The good taste and musicality of the songs and the performances are notable. And the performers and their voices are marvelous.

My favorite songs (musical with songs)? It’s a tough call. I would say The King and I. Carousel a close second.

 

— Roger W. Smith

   April 2021

Pachelbel, harpsichord suites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted here are 42 harpsichord suites — performed by Joseph Payne — of the German composer Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706). It has been my feeling for some time that Pachelbel should be a lot better known than he is — and not just known for one or two famous works (e.g., his Canon in D).

Joseph Payne (1937-2008) was a harpsichordist and organist known for his pioneering recordings of early keyboard music.

 

Also posted here, two Pachelbel favorites:

 

Canon and Gigue in D Major

 

Toccata in E Minor for Organ

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   February 2021

 

 

*****************************************************

 

Addendum:

 

See also my post:

Pachelbel, Chaconne in D major; Chaconne in F minor

https://rogersgleanings.com/2017/04/01/pachelbel-chaconne-in-d-major/

Schubert

 

 

 

 

Posted here, the second movement

Andante con moto

of Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor (Death and the Maiden), performed by the Julliard String Quartet.

 

It speaks for itself — and for Schubert.

With my rudimentary knowledge of musical form, I realized that the second movement is in the form of theme and variations, something we learned about in a so-so music appreciation course I took in college.

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   February 2021

Purcell!

 

[/audio

 

This track contains mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker’s performance of the aria “When I Am Laid In My Grave” (also known as Dido’s lament) from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas.

It was on  side 2 of a precious LP that I purchased in a Manhattan record store in the 1970s: of a groundbreaking performance conducted by Anthony Lewis (made in the 1950s) of Purcell’s opera.

I don’t think I have ever heard a more beautiful aria. Purcell’s death, at the age 36,  was a tragic loss — speaking in general terms, to music.

 

— Roger W. Smith

   December 2020

thoughts about Beethoven

 

 

Re:

5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Beethoven

The New York Times

December 2, 2000

 

My younger brother alerted me and our siblings to this New York Times article, and asked us to pick a favorite among the Beethoven pieces discussed. The following is the text of an email of mine in reply to my brother.

— Roger W. Smith

    December 2020

 

*****************************************************

 

Thanks for sharing and alerting me to this Times article. I find such articles sort of silly, usually. But, here are my favorites.

Roger

 

Weston Sprott

The “incredible transition” into the work’s final movement (between the third and fourth movements) of Beethoven’s Fifth. Yes, incredible. It never fails to thrill me. It’s brilliant and overpowering.

 

Steve Reich

Slow (third) movement of the A minor String Quartet (Op. 132). Yes, so profoundly. Plumbs spiritual and emotional depths. I got to know the Late Quartets in my senior year in college. They were a revelation.

 

Patricia Morrisroe

“Moonlight” Sonata, third movement. The “Moonlight’ sonata was one of the first Beethoven piano sonatas I got to know, in my senior year in high school and, mostly, during the summer of 1964, when I listened to it countless times.

 

Paul Lewis

The first movement of the piano sonata Opus 78. For some reason, I got to know this sonata only rather recently. This movement is one of my absolute favorites among the piano sonatas. A brilliant opening. Is enchanting the right word?

 

Seth Colter Walls

The second movement of the Seventh Symphony. I became familiar with all the Beethoven symphonies quite early, in my teens. I probably did not really get to know the Seventh until my freshman year in college (thanks in large part to the portable stereo that Mom and Dad gave me as a high school graduation present). When I first heard the seventh symphony, I found the second movement haunting, and still do. Like a lot of great Beethoven music, great passages, it is unique. He seems to be always original. Which is why he never tires (I should say, to be grammatically correct, never tires the listener).

 

Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 1 in G minor (Winter Reveries)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a great performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

The title of the symphony in Russian, Зимние грёзы (Zimniye gryozy), is usually rendered in English as “Winter Dreams.” This is not accurate. The Russian word for dreams is мечты (mechty). The noun грёза (groza) means a daydream or reverie.

Tchaikovsky’s last three symphonies are listened to much more often. They are all works of great emotional power and consummate mastery. But the originality and beauty of the first symphony are notable. The four movements are as follows:

1. Dreams of a Winter Journey – Allegro tranquillo

2. Land of Desolation, Land of Mists – Adagio cantabile ma non tanto

3. Scherzo – Allegro scherzando giocoso

4. Finale – Andante lugubre – Allegro maestoso

It is perhaps not a good idea to do so, but I would single out the first two movements as favorites of mine, and especially the haunting, elegiac second movement.

The Symphony No. 1 was composed in 1866 and first performed in 1868.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   October 2020

Monteverdi, “Deposuit potentes” (He has put down the mighty)

 

 

 

 

From Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 — in a live performance (which I attended last winter) by Tenet Vocal Artists. A marvelous performance.

Music to uplift us. Monteverdi: pathos, beauty, intense spirituality.

 

 

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   September 2020

 

Schubert, “Et incarnatus est”

 

 

 

 

 

I have been trying to occasionally post music that I find especially appropriate for these trying times. Posted above is the “Et incarnatus est” from Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E-flat major, performed by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   August 2020

 

 

Addendum: This music needs no comment. But, I can’t resist saying that it is very Schubertian — or, to put it another way, only Schubert could have written such a piece: sacred in this case, but stamped with the intense feeling and warmth of his impromptus, say,  and other piano pieces.