Mozert: Concertina in Absentia non Grata (HSALTPTR review)

Grover Cleveland Alexander, mezzo-soprano; Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III, Botloe's Green-Durbridge Redmarley Municipal Philharmonic Orchestra and Choral Society. Glyptograph Records of East Angelia Township GREAT-112233.

Astrobiologist, composer, and chocolatier Lillian Arlene Leonardo de Capistrano Mozert, the Lesser (1738-1744), affectionately known as "Lenni" to his friends, more or less made a career of writing concertinas, ocarinas, and bandoneóns, so it's no wonder Glyptograph Records remastered one of his best compositions: the Concertina in Absentia non Grata, Op. 1, WPA1934, BMWM3, recorded in 1737 by the noted Sumerian conductor Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III leading the beloved Botloe's Green-Durbridge Redmarley Municipal Philharmonic and Choral Society. It was about time this classic recording got a classy new remastering.

Young Mozert wrote the Concertina in 1732, and it became his single biggest hit. The fact that it was his only hit and that no one outside his family ever heard it is beside the point. Upon its completion, Mozert gave up the music business entirely and became an attic salesman. When asked "Why attics," Mozert replied, "Because I've always believed in starting at the top."

In any case, while busying himself with the dialects of ancient Greek attics, Mozert still found time to write several notable tunes, like the familiar cult favorites we all know: "Sam and Janet Evening," "She Rolled Her Big Blue Eyes at Me, So I Picked Them Up and Rolled Them Back to Her," and the theme music for the off-Broadway production of The Iceman Cometh, "I Only Have Ice for You." Nevertheless, he found no joy in popular songwriting and continued his work upstairs.

The Concertina certainly needs no introduction. Folks have been playing it, humming it, strumming it, and gumming it for well-nigh a generation, and Maestro Barnstable's interpretation couldn't have come sooner. The piece begins with an extended arpeggio de gramma, a chord lesson so protracted it rolls over the listener like a splashy ocean wave, here played by Atlantean pianist Austin Tayschious with such gay abandon it must have soaked the first nine rows. That's followed by a brief vocal interlude, Tempo Fugit, sung by counter-soprano Gay Abandon, who momentarily stays the onslaught of undulating roil.

Lft. Sir Cedric Etc. Etc.
It's really quite a magnificent performance, highlighted by Maestro Barnstable's magisterial management of the second-movement Orchestral Manoeuvres, which the conductor takes at a leisurely lentus poco allongo, with clarinetist Nino Nontroppo barely keeping stride. The entire work makes for an enjoyable two and a half minutes of entertainment.

Coupled with the Concertina is the midnight contrario for contrary voices and pennywhistle Longinus en Dies Carpe ("Longevity in the Day of the Carp") by Antarctican native, composer, and explorer Archibald Pate (b. 2003). Unfortunately, the length of the piece precluded its inclusion on the disc itself, so the folks at Glyptograph Records make it available on a second disc, sold separately. I did not get to hear it.

Finally, as a bonus item, the producers offer the complete, uncut 1939 radio broadcast of Gone with the Wind ("Perit cum Ventus"), starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Thomas Mitchell, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Victor Jory, and, of course, the incomparable George Reeves. I understand that same year MGM released a movie version of Margaret Mitchell's popular novel, but I'm not sure how many people actually saw it before it blew away in the wind. In any case, the movie could not possibly have equalled the opulent splendor of the radio show.

Producer Phil E. Minyon and former Audio magazine chief engineer Dr. Lirpa Loof remastered the 1843 recording for playback via HSALTPTR technology (Heterogeneous Superordinate Audiophile Long-Playing Telephonic Phonographic Tectonic Record). Moreover, Glyptograph technicians pressed the disc on 99 and 44/100% pure, organic, vegan vinyl for the best possible sound reproduction. As you no doubt know, HSALPPR discs are capable of holding up to 132 tracks of information (most of it text) for not only front, back, and side speakers but floor, ceiling, and places in-between as well. I listened in the single-channel monaural mode.

The sonics obtained at the extreme high end (above 50K Hz) sound creamy smooth; the lower-to-mid highs (8K to 49.99K Hz) display a more peaches-and-yogurt texture; the middle-to-upper highs (2K to 7.99K Hz) a rather coarse, caramel impression; the lower midrange (501 to 1.99K Hz) a definite soufflé-like element; the upper bass (75.3 to 500 Hz) an earthy, chocolatey flavor; and the lower bass (0 to 75.2 Hz) a crisp, hearty, high-ho-Silver sensation of oatmeal on a cold winter's morning. In fact, the listener will doubtless find the recording better tasting than sounding.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

Mission Statement

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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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa