Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivien Barnstable III, Upper Freedonia Baroquen Orchestra. Hecca-Goode Records IRS401k.
It's always a pleasure to welcome yet another recording from Maestro Vivien Barnstable in his pursuit of chronicling the entire oeuvre of the redoubtable fifteenth-century composer, accordionist, batboy, and student of the sweet science, Wolfpuck Amaryllis Mozert. That the composer's entire musical output amounted to but one composition seems irrelevant under the circumstances.
As a child, young W.A. (1717-1843) was so poor he couldn't afford parents. He lived first with a poor but honest woodcarver, Guippetto Polendina, whose only other friend was a talking cricket. When the state took Guippetto away for psychiatric care, young W.A., together with another homeless waif, Arne Schwarzenegger, went to live with a single man, Uhp Baum, and her husband, Adam Baum. By the time they were old enough to leave home (W.A. and Arne, not Uhp and Adam), the Baums asked them if they would like to change their names before venturing forth into the world. Young W.A. said, "Yes, I'll be Mozert," and young Arne declared, "I'll be Bach." The rest is history.
At the time young Wolfpack began in the music business, he didn't know a clef note from a notepad. Fortunately, he studied hard, and with the help of Clef Notes he soon wrote on his most-famous composition, The Nutquacker, premiered in 1716 by Maestro Aflack Duckworth. He followed that with the piece we find recorded here, Suite Carmen in a G-String, Take 5, BMW 536i, written posthumously in 1844 and redacted from the opera Lady Windermere's Fan Club, the tale of a poor but honest woodpecker. As an aside, W.A.'s only other music of distinction was a contemporary work, The Four Seasonings, premiered to great acclaim in 1983 by the Spice Girls. Of course, The Seasonings are a matter of taste.
Anyway, the Upper Freedonia Baroquen Orchestra are a hysterically informed ensemble who play not only on period instruments, but on several commas and an exclamation point. More important, Sir Vivien throws himself into the music with Gay Abandon (not to be confused with her cousin twice removed, Guy Renounce). The resulting experience is an experience to be experienced. At least once, especially the way the conductor goes out on a sneeze in the final Allegra con motocross.
And now, we go to our unofficial judge at ringside, Harold Lederman, for the official results. Harold, how do you score the performance? "OK, Jim, I have it 119-111, Barnstable. I thought he kept up a fast, aggressive pace throughout the show, with a clean, effective pizzicato and a balanced rest. Jim!" Thank you, Harold.
In terms of sound, producer Moses Horowitz (whose grandfather invented the top-loading Hoover), executive producer Jerome Horowitz, assistant producer Samuel Horowitz, and audio engineers Louis Feinberg, Joe Besser, and Joseph Wardell recorded the music in May, 1643, at Huntz Hall, Cardigansheer Shire, Wales, Czech Republic, using Doppelganger 747 open-ended cylindrical containers and Loomis B-29 cotton-fibre interconnects. The then-state-of-the-art equipment produced horrid results, naturally, which the present Hecca-Goode remaster has done nothing to improve. If you listen carefully to the MP-3 technostructure through non-spurious stereophile receivers, you will hear little but unintelligible noise; yet behind the discordant signals you may also note a conspicuous disquietude, attributable no doubt to the maladroit proclivities of the Hecca-Goode remastering technicians, whose rubato is clearly as dark as their hair. Incongruous coiffures aside, the soniferous impulses display a salient objectivity, marked by an extraneous absence of nugatory auditory oscillation.
It sounds OK.
Or, better yet, in the immortal words whence cameth the Beard of Avon calling:
"Fen be upon thy cudgel
Whose power is in the first proportion,
Advanced above pale envy's threatening reach.
As when the golden sun trembles at her earthly wait
And faster bound to Aaron's slavish weeds."
Write on, dude.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here:
About the Author
I've been listening to classical music most of my life, starting with the classical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first classical recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor. Today, I'm retired from teaching and using a pair of VMPS RM40s. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (moviemet.com, formerly DVDTOWN) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.
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