Your Community Spirit 2012 June 29

News includes Gaia House Membership; Occupy Updates Daily; 34.1 MPG CAFE Standards For 2016 Upheld; Veggie Prescriptions Make People Healthier; 15 Green Home Projects For Under $500. Happenings include Open Mic Night; 4th of July at Rice and Spice; Salsa Dancing; Meet Your Local Produce at Neighborhood Co-op Grocery.

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The Galaxy – A tribute to a great baritone

English: Oil painting of Franz Schubert, after...

English: Oil painting of Franz Schubert, after an 1825 watercolor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the teenaged version of me was becoming acquainted with classical music, one of the first things that drew my greatest enthusiasm was the music of Franz Schubert, especially his lieder.  Schubert’s lieder is a really great way to come to enjoy classical music, as Schubert had a unique way of making the music personal, for both the singer, the pianist, and the listener.  Indeed, much of Schubert’s greatest music was written for performance as chamber music – music to be played in drawing rooms, with intimate company, often an experience shared among friends and acquaintances.  My youthful exposure to lieder had the effect of making classical music a very personal experience for me.  It didn’t matter whether I could understand the language being spoken – the music itself was a universal language, and the singer was the translator.

As such, the performance of lieder calls for certain special interpretive skills.  For many years, there were two groups of classical singers, the opera singers and the recitalists.  Occasionally an aging opera singer might venture into the performance and recording of lieder (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf comes to mind), and there are a number of singers noted for their recordings of lieder, but who did not do much opera (Elly Ameling was a fine singer who concert material almost exclusively; Fritz Wunderlich had also made his name recording lieder, and was just starting to record full-length opera when he died after falling down some stairs).  It was probably inevitable that, as we progressed into an era where recording technology could capture performances with true-to-life audio quality, such a gulf would eventually be diminished or eliminated.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (28 May 1925 – 18 May 2012)

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (28 May 1925 – 18 May 2012)

Hence we come to the subject of our discussion, the great German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who passed away this past May at the age of 86.  He was a rare singer who has excelled in both operatic and concert performance.  Of course, in the end, he will probably be best remembered for his many great recordings of lieder by the likes of Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, etc.  But I will probably remember him more for the quality of his recordings than for the quantity.  I do not remember how I first heard him, whether it was during my youth, after I went to Germany as part of my military service, or even after my return to Carbondale.  What I remember is that, at some point, I came to see him as the virtual definition of quality lieder performance.  With his clear diction and his ability to portray the emotion of the song, he takes a song and turns it from an intellectual exercise into an emotional experience.

Tonight, we heard his 1985 recording of Schubert’s Winterreise, accompanied by pianist Alfred Brendel.

The Civil Wars' Barton Hollow cover

The Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We then heard some lovely music from the Civil Wars.  I’d been hearing some really good things about them for a while (which has certainly been earned, given their win in the Grammy Awards this past year), and was impressed by their material.  It took until recently for me to be able to acquire their material, but it is a worthy addition to our rotation.  They are hard to categorize (folk? country?), but surely that fits well into this program and our emphasis on hearing material from multiple genres, and the notion that genres can be overly limiting.  Plus, how can one not like these gorgeous vocal harmonies?  From Barton Hollow, we heard I’ve Got This Friend, C’est La Mort, To Whom It May Concern, and Falling.

Winterland box set cover

Winterland box set cover

I was extremely pleased back last fall to hear of the reissue of an expanded edition of Jimi Hendrix’s Winterland performances.  At one point I had possession of the original 1987 Rykodisc single-disc release, and thought it to be as good a representation of Hendrix as could be found.  But this more recent release is quite revelatory.  You can see quite clearly how each Hendrix performance was a creature in and of itself – we might be given the same song 3 times, but each song receives a different take, and a different approach.  I would feel easy in listing this set among the best recording issues of 2011.  From the third disk, consisting of performances from 10/12/1968, we heard Sunshine of Your Love, Little Wing and Spanish Castle Magic (the latter two were rarely done in concert).

WHAT MOMMA SAID

It is Summer is SO ILL

and can you say HOT?!

here is what we listened to to stay cool “earl eye” in the morninng

Big Star Watching the Sun Rise Radio City

Ha Ha Tonka – Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South

Rusted Root – Food and Creative Love – When I Woke

Justin Roberts – I Chalk – Meltdown

Bruce Springsteen – Jesse James – Seeger Sessions

John Fogerty – Big Train(From Memphis) -Centerfield

Johnny Cash – Ghost Riders in The Sky – Live From YouTube

7am

Liz Phair and Material IssueThe Tra La La Song (one Banana, Two Banana)

Star Wars/Figrin D’an and the Modal Notes – Cantina Song #1

Apples In Stereo – Strawberry Fire- Her Wallpaper Reverie

John Gold – Honeymade – A Flower In Your Head

World Party – Rescue Me – Bang!

Jon justice – Brighter Day – The Rebound

John Gold – Honeymade – A Flower In Your Head

Big Smith – What Has Happened – Big Rock

Marcia Ball-Pary Town – Peace Love and BBQ

The Moaners – Foxy Brown – Blackwing Yalobusha

The Code Talkers Featuring Colonel Bruce Hampton – I’m so Glad – The Code Talkers

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals– Let It Ride – Cold Roses

Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons – Mile High, Mile Deep – Happy Book NEW CD!!

Papa Grows Funk – Planet of Love and Hate – Needle in The Groove NEW CD!!!!

Splitlip Rayfield Used To Be – Should Have Seen It Coming

WDBX Opera Overnight – Puccini, Rossini

Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We start the evening with an opera by Giacomo PucciniManon Lescaut was based on a 1731 book by Antoine François Prévost , which had been used several times before, including Massenet’s successful opera Manon.  Puccini used 5 librettists for the libretto, and parts of the text was written by the composer himself.  He also recycled bits and pieces from previous works.  The work was premiered in Turin in 1893, his third opera and his first great success.

Tonight’s recording is from 1992, and features Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Dwayne Croft, Giuseppe Taddei, Ramon Vargas, and Cecilia BartoliJames Levine conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus.

Our next opera is one by Gioachino Rossini.  While he is famous for his comic operas, he began writing more serious operas in 1816 for Isabella Colbran, whom he met in 1815 and married in 1822.  Tonight’s opera, SemiRamide, was the last opera that he wrote for her, and his last Italian opera before he relocated to Paris.  He used a libretto by Gaetano Rossi, wrote the opera in 33 days, and premiered the opera in 1823.  While the opera was initially successful, it eventually disappeared from the repertoire until it was revived by Joan Sutherland in Milan in 1962.  Tonight’s performance features Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne, along with Joseph Rouleau, John Serge, Patricia Clark, Spiro Malas, Leslie Fryon, and Michael Langdon.  The Ambroisan Opera Chorus and the London Symphony Orchestra were directed by Richard Bonynge.

The Galaxy – Is it already June 18th yet???

English: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, in concer...

It is hard for me to believe that we’re more than halfway through June of 2012, and the Fourth of July is fast approaching.  Where did the time go?  It seems like only yesterday that we were having cool spring nights…. oh…. wait… that may have been last week.  LOL

We started tonight’s set with some live Led Zeppelin, material that they released in 2003.  Jimmy Page has been accused of stitching together performances to create recordings of events that didn’t really happen.  Maybe it is true, maybe not.  But what is true is that Led Zeppelin was a truly great live band, and I do make an effort to play good live music, when I can get it.  So we heard a nice live set from How The West Was Won: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Over The Hills and Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, and Stairway to Heaven.

Marty Stuart

Marty Stuart

I tend to not play a lot of what many call “new country”.  I prefer country that has fewer pop music influences, a style that is more reflective of its backwoods roots.  With that said, there are a few musicians that play a style that is more rooted in an older style of country, a manner of playing that Faron Young or Lefty Frizzell might have been comfortable with.  (I think it is no accident that many such musicians have their roots in bluegrass.)  One such musician is Marty Stuart.  Over the years, while he has done some mainstream country material, his primary emphasis has been on a more rootsier, traditionalist country style, and this is epitomized by his 2010 release Ghost Train.  We heard four songs from this lovely, lovely album: Drifting Apart, Bridge Washed Out, Ghost Train Four-Oh-Ten, and I Run To You (a duet with Stuart’s wife Connie Smith).

Rachel Harrington

Rachel Harrington

We then heard a few songs from Rachel Harrington.  I stumbled upon her material in the WDBX library a few months ago, and I was rather impressed by her style (more roots-based, like Stuart; not 100% bluegrass – maybe a blend of bluegrass, country and folk).  She has a very nice voice, and she puts some very nice instrumentation behind it.  We heard four songs from that album, The Bootlegger’s Daughter: Sunshine Girl, Up The River, Untitled (sung a capella, without instrumental backing), and her tasteful cover of the classic gospel song Farther Along.

English: Oil painting of Franz Schubert Deutsc...

Franz Schubert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Franz Schubert wrote the Fantasie in C Major, Op. 15 (popularly known as the Wanderer Fantasy) in 1822.  It is considered to be his most technically demanding composition for piano, and Schubert himself had difficulty playing his own composition (he is reported to have said “the devil may play it.”).  It was written in four movements, but the movements are played without a break in-between.  Franz Lizst wrote several transcriptions of the piece, one for piano and orchestra, and another for four hand piano.  Tonight we heard a 1959 recording by Alfred Brendel.

We closed out the show with a recording from last year from As I Lay Dying, their excellent cover of Slayer’s War Ensemble.  We then heard a rather creative recording, also from last year, from August Burns Red, their Internal Cannon.  We followed that with a set of songs, tongue firmly in cheek, from Stormtroopers of Death (the infamous side project of Scott Ian and Charlie Benante of Anthrax,  Dan Lilker of Nuclear Assault, and Billy Milano, who eventually formed M.O.D): Kill Yourself, Pussy Whipped, and United Forces.

Postscript: in doing research for tonight’s blog (remember, I write the blog live while on air), I am saddened to hear of the passing last month (yet another sad departure!  May was a really BAD month!) of the great German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.  He was a special talent – a truly sublime interpreter of song, with clear diction and an understanding of how to phrase the words to bring out the meaning therein.  He was just as comfortable singing a recital as he was on the operatic stage, and he was unusual in that he was noted for operatic, concert and recital performances, eventually setting a trend that many modern singers now follow.  We shall do a special tribute to him in next week’s show.