Category Archives: Recommendations

The Singer takes a break …

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You really ought to listen to The Disney Album to hear the expressive range, or hear her disc It’s Better with a Band for the thrilling exuberance of the sounds of a soprano whose voice wants to make you dance or the OBC (Original Broadway Cast album) of Candide (the original of course, 1956) to set you giggling as a coloratura hits a glorious high C (in the aria Glitter and be gay – this, long before the modern-day whacky diva Kristin Chenoweth sank her not-in-considerable musical chops into the piece, but the original by Cook honours composer Bernstein’s intention more truly by relishing the operatic and lyrical parody set down before her). There is so much more to write about the Barbara Cook “songbook”, and yet she is gone … as we all must do sometime, but to lose such a unique artist. Irreplaceable. Continue reading

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In review: “Into the Woods” (film)

The Disney movie of Into the Woods is a cautionary tale in so many ways, morally and artistically . Based on the James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical, it shows the effects on a community when individuals pursue relentlessly their personal goals and wishes to the exclusion of those around them. Hardly new ground, but these expert storytellers lay before us a rich tapestry of individuals and good-as-gold desires such that when their worlds collide in a single woodlands, the choices become dazzling and the task of choosing a simple, correct path to follow is as energetic as any Olympic event: in short, we witness a marathon of morality. I’ll explore this later, but let me touch on why the film is a cautionary tale for the artist. It is, after all, an adaptation and we need to think something of the act of transmutation from stage to celluloid. Continue reading

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In Review: “Brideshead Revisited (Granada TV Series)

Among the hundreds of DVDs at our local library – feature films, popular TV series, documentaries – I chanced upon this one “Brideshead Revisited”, that much-celebrated Granada TV series from the 1980s. I picked it up, I took it home and played it. And instantly I was 21 again and full of the romance this finely-honed, exquisite classic drenched me in all those long years ago.

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In Review (Music): Christopher Tin, ‘The Drop that Contained the Sea’

This is contemporary symphonic music to sit back and enjoy. American composer Tin writes music that is epic and filled with variety, and there is a sweep to it that I find quite irresistible.

Here are texts from languages exotic, ancient and infrequently encountered (Proto-Indo-European, Bulgarian, Xhosa, Old Norse, and so forth). The music, commensurately in the style of the culture of each language, is like the film scores of Morricone and Williamson, sounding exotic and authentic but clearly in an idiom of Western symphonic composition. It is more sophisticated than Tin’s first offering, Calling All Dawns, but, like it, equally as magnetic. (I played it for Mum and she sat still, immersed and enthralled). Continue reading

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