New CDs for February 2016
Alexsandr Scriabin – Complete Preludes
Jean Sibelius – Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6
Jean Sibelius – Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7: “The Tempest” Suite No. 2
Joey Alexander – My Favorite Things
Florence + the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Editor’s Note:“Spider Sounds” invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about CDs (or other items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection). The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question, or to additional relevant information. Today’s post is by Cate, one of Parsons Music Library’s student workers and features a classic live album by Simon & Garfunkel. Thanks, Cate!
I have a special liking for Simon and Garfunkel. They were one of the few artists my parents could agree on, so they made up much of the soundtrack for long car trips, and I remember falling asleep to the music thinking of flower crowns and the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo.
As always with Simon and Garfunkel, the melodies are lovely, woven with simple but really poetic lyrics.
I don’t usually go for live recordings, but listening to the audience was a lot fun. Art does most of the talking, understated and clear, introducing the band politely and quietly prefacing their new song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (a hit with the crowd, unsurprisingly). The album, like one of their songs, starts softly and builds in intensity before letting us go with a gently wit an echo of the melody, and (except for the end) the crowd responds in kind, quiet so that they can listen but becoming more and more excited as the concert goes on.
Hearing the concert performance itself is a real treat. They sound freer; the harmonies swoop higher and swing lower, the guitar is more fevered, the words, still soft, are exposed and bittersweet. A band accompanies them for a few songs, giving “Mrs. Robinson” a more energetic vibe, closer to that of the Lemonheads‘ cover than one would expect from Simon and Garfunkel’s traditional sound. But my personal favorite track, “The Sound of Silence” is just the two of them — more ragged here, and beautiful as ever.
Like awesome music from a couple of guys with a guitar? Stop by the Parsons Music Library and check Simon & Garfunkel — Live 1969 out. Don’t like awesome music from a couple of guys with a guitar? Stop by anyways. We’ve got awesome music in every variety ready to be listened to.
Editor’s Note: Our “Spider Sounds” feature returns! “Spider Sounds” invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about CDs (or other items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection). The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question, or to additional relevant information. Today’s post is by Kasey, one of Parsons Music Library’s student workers and features a CD by a group that just won several Grammy awards (including “Best Rock Song” and “Best Alternative Music Album”). Thanks, Kasey!
If you’re looking for something with soul, substance and breadth look no further than Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes. The band’s Southern roots can be heard throughout the album backing raw vocals from their lead singer Brittany Howard and an array of instruments – some expected and some not. Whether you’re doing homework, hanging out with friends or cruising around town, Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes is sure to have your head bobbing to the beat. Find this album and many more at Parsons Music Library!
New CDs for January 2016
Herbie Hancock – Future Shock
Adele – 25
Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg on January 27th, 1756. He was a musical prodigy and wrote half of the number of total symphonies he would create between the ages of 8 and 19. Here is a cool little feature article with GIFs about his early life: http://www.sinfinimusic.com/uk/features/other-features/classical-buzz/young-mozart-1756-1791-the-early-years-of-musical-child-prodigies-nannerl-and-wolfgang.
Although he only lived to be 35, he composed over 600 works during his lifetime. Many of which are acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence on subsequent Western art music is profound.
In honor of his birthday here are some interesting facts:
* Mozart, his father, and his sister traveled around the noble courts of Europe to perform music. Travel was difficult in those days, and all three Mozarts suffered serious illnesses on the road. Wolfgang never grew to be a strong man, and researchers believe his many illnesses as a child left him small, pale, and delicate.
* While in Vienna as a child, Mozart performed for Empress Maria Theresa. He amused her when he asked one of her young daughters to marry him. She was Marie Antoinette, the future queen of France.
* Among Mozart’s prolific musical creations are 41 symphonies, 27 piano concertos, 5 violin concertos, 27 concert arias, 23 string quartets, 18 masses, and 22 operas.
* When Mozart visited the Sistine Chapel as a child, he astonished everyone when he remembered and wrote down, note for note, Allegri’s Miserere. This composition had been previously kept a secret.
* Constanze Weber was Mozart’s wife and her father Fridolin’s half-brother was the father of composer Carl Maria von Weber. Constanze had three sisters, Josepha, Aloysia and Sophie, who were all were trained as singers and later performed in premieres of a number of Mozart’s works.
* Mozart’s compositions were cataloged in the 19th century by Köchel, and they are now generally distinguished by the K. numbering from this catalog such as Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus K.618.
* In the largest-ever recording project devoted to a single composure, Philips Classic produced 180 compact discs in 1991 containing the complete set of authenticated works by Mozart. It comprises over 200 hours of music and would take over 6.5 feet of shelving.
* Mozart’s music has featured in quite a few films. For example, his “Duettino- Sull’aria” from one of Mozart’s most popular operas The Marriage of Figaro makes an appearance in The Shawshank Redemption.
We have all manner of interesting recordings, scores, books, and DVDs featuring the works of Mozart here at the Parsons Music Library. Why not come and see what we have to offer? We are always happy to assist.
Here are a very few (out of hundreds) of possibilities (links will take you to the relevant records in the library catalog):
Mozart speaks : views on music, musicians, and the world : drawn from the letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and other early accounts
Amadeus on DVD
Mozart : great piano concertos : vol. II, nos. 1, 4, 23 & 24
New CDs for December 2015
Psallentes – Missa Transfigurationis
Various Artists – Soul Of Sue Records
Various Artists – I’m A Good Woman – Funk Classics From Sassy Soul
The President’s Own U.S. Marine Band – Elements
George Wassouf – The Best of George Wassouf
Various Artists – Teen Dance Music From China and Malaysia
Voices of Ireland – Lord of the Dance and Other Famous Irish Songs &
The animated TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas made its debut on December 9th, 1965 on CBS.
The special was atypical for most cartoons at the time because of its contemplative message, its use of real children (some of whom were too young to read) to voice the characters as opposed to adult voice actors and its LACK of use of a laugh track. (Peanuts creator Charles Schulz refused to allow one saying he wanted to “let the people at home enjoy the show at their own speed, in their own way.”)
A Charlie Brown Christmas was also noteworthy for its holiday-infused jazz soundtrack created by musician/composer Vince Guaraldi.
Guaraldi became involved with the Peanuts before the start of production for the Christmas special. Producer Lee Mendelson heard Guaraldi’s 1963 radio hit “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” while traveling by taxi on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and initially commissioned Guaraldi write a jazz soundtrack for a television documentary about Charles Schulz called A Boy Named Charlie Brown that wound up never being broadcast. According to Mendelson, the first performance of “Linus & Lucy” occurred over the phone during the production of the documentary. Fortunately, the Christmas special allowed the piece to find a home.
The jazz soundtrack to the special was initially a hard sell, both to Charles Schulz (who was not much of a jazz fan at the time) and to the network since jazz had never been used in an animated special before. Despite Schulz’s initial feelings about jazz, he pushed for Guaraldi’s music to be included because he believed it created a perfect “bubbly, childlike tone” for the show.
Interestingly, the song “Christmas Time Is Here” was something of a happy accident. According to Lee Mendelson: “For the Christmas Show, [Vince] wrote an original melody that wasn’t in the documentary. It was a beautiful melody that opened the scene where the kids are skating. When we looked at the final cut, it seemed to me to be very slow. I said, ‘Let me see if I can find some lyricists to put some words to it.’ I couldn’t find anybody. I sat down at my kitchen table and in 10 minutes I wrote a poem called ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ to the melody. I wrote all the words down, handed it to Vince, and said, ‘Find a choir of kids to sing this.’ He had been working with a choir to do a jazz mass in San Francisco. He rushed them all together, about two days later. So that whole thing was written and recorded in about over a two-day period and then rushed into the final mix [of the special].” The song has gone on to become a holiday standard and has been covered by many artists including Tony Bennett and Diana Krall.
In fact, it is hard to imagine the holiday season in the US now without the beloved special and its music!
Univeristy of Richmond students, faculty and staff can stream the soundtrack to the special by logging into the Alexander Street press database to which the library subscribes. They can also access Guaraldi’s Grace Cathedral Jazz Mass (which also celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015) as well as several of Guaraldi’s other albums.
A Charlie Brown Christmas has become the second longest running animated Christmas special of all time (behind 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) and the soundtrack album was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in 2011.
The Parsons Music Library has a special display about A Charlie Brown Christmas and Vince Guaraldi that you can visit through the end of the year — come check it out!
Rubber Soul is the sixth album released by the Beatles. It was issued in the UK on December 3rd, 1965, fifty years ago. (And was released in an altered form in the US on December 6th, 1965.) The album was the first album the Beatles recorded during a continuous period (between October 12th and November 15th, 1965) instead of being recorded piecemeal between tour gigs. This gave the band an opportunity to craft an album that was a more cohesive and introspective unit. Rubber Soul‘s 14 songs (11 composed by John Lennon & Paul McCartney, 2 composed by George Harrison and 1 written by Lennon, McCartney and Ringo Starr) are stylistically diverse, incorporating elements of R&B, folk rock, pop, soul and psychedelia. It is also the first Beatles album to NOT include any cover songs (i.e., songs orignally written and recorded by other artists).
Rubber Soul was unique for many reasons. The Beatles were beginning to experiment with lyrics that were not necessarily about boy-girl romance and are more lyrically sophisticated than songs like “She Loves You“. “Nowhere Man” isn’t about romance at all — a first on a Beatles album.
The group also experiments with incorporating unusual instruments (for the time) and sounds onto the album. George Harrison’s use of the sitar on Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood” helped to spark a musical craze for Indian instruments in pop music. Other “world music” influences are evident in the jazzy French style of McCartney’s “Michelle” and a Greek flavored accompaniment on Lennon’s “Girl” (with acoustic guitars standing in for bouzoukis). “In My Life” features an instrumental bridge with a Bach-like passage played on piano, but sped up to sound like a harpsichord.
The Beatles’ willingness to experiment in the studio was a feature of their work that would continue to develop by leaps and bounds over their next couple of albums. The spirit of experimentation even extended to the album cover itself, which featured a distorted image of the Fab 4 and, unlike most pop albums of the time, did NOT feature the name of the band on the front cover.
Rubber Soul remains a fulfilling album to listen to and to quote music critic Walter Everett, “was made more to be thought about than danced to, and this began a far-reaching trend.”
Editor’s note: This week “Listening In” is inaugurating a new feature called Spider Sounds. We’re inviting members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about CDs (or other items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection). The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question. Our first post comes from James, one of the library’s student workers. Thanks, James!
2012: In the spirit of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” British rock band MUMFORD & SONS released BABEL, three years after their multi-platinum debut album, SIGH NO MORE. Now, I’d be lying if I said BABEL didn’t sound a lot like its predecessor, but there’s something about that signature “Mumford” sound that my ears crave.
Rustic, pure and clean. Think Hemingway, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ron Swanson gathered ‘round, singing campfire songs in the woods. It’s no accident – there is a formula for this. The recipe calls for raspy, powerful vocals with acoustic guitar, intimate lyrics, a banjo, and not much else – a minimalist arrangement enough to break your heart and put hair on your chest at the same time.
Luckily for you, we’ve got BABEL right here at Parsons Music Library. So if you need a break from EDM or plugging away on the clarinet – not that there’s anything wrong with that! – come by and check out the unadulterated musical stylings of Mumford & Sons.
New CDs for November 2015
Blue Heron Renaissance Choir – Music From The Peterhouse Partbooks, Vol. 4
Joyce DiDonato & Antonio Pappano – Joyce & Tony: Live At Wigmore Hall
Lin-Manuel Miranda – Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording
John Scofield – Past Present
Sun Ra – Four Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles
Sun Ra – Soundtrack to the Film Space Is The Place
Kenny Clarke – Kind of Clarke
Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra – Dee Dee’s Feathers