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:
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer
Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first 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 use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer
For more than 20 years I was the editor ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.
For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst
I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.
Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.
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. --John J. Puccio
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