Mozert: Suite Carmen in a G-String (SADD review)
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:
William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer
Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.
The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.