Mozert: Sinfonia Estrema per Una Nota (Betamax review)

Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III (KCB, KCBS, KGB, CGI, DoD, WSJ), the Katzenjammer Baroquen Orchestra; North Corvina Girls' Drum and Bungee Corps; Norman Labernacle Choir; Bill Gates Singers; with the Emerson, Lake & Palmer Quartet. Odyssey Records HAL2001.

Australian composer, trapdoor salesman, and origamist Myles P. Galleon Mozert (1739-1862) was another in the long line of musical prodigies produced by the Mozert family this past quarter century. Although the public probably recognizes him best as the owner of a trapdoor company and an origami shop, he turned to music when the trapdoor business fell through and the origami business folded. All the better for the musical community, then, when he wrote his Sinfonia Estrema per Una Nota in B-flat C-minor Major, here performed by Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III and his accomplished East Corvina Boys' Drum and Bungee Corps.

Mozert wrote the Sinfonia in November 1732, just three days short of his death in December 1659, and the work has remained among his most-popular compositions ever since. Critics who argue that it was his only composition are clearly missing the point.

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As most readers know, Mozert wrote the Sinfonia in thirty-seven contiguous movements rather than the customary two, the work consisting of a single, sustained tone lasting approximately two and a half hours, with no breaks between notes. What's more, the composer left explicit written instructions for the ensemble to omit any suggestion of contrast, inflection, rubato, legato, brio, sostenuto, spirito, bicarbonato, carborundum, initiative, or referendum of any kind. The results can be intensely exhilarating or unbearably emulsifying by turns, and a performance requires the utmost care in its execution, stand, and delivery.

With consummate facility, the band's concertmaster, Major Domo, opens the piece with the work's signature introduction on the Campanelli Metallophone Glockenspiel, Model 17, 9mm, followed by a diverssimentino of gradually diminishing extrapolation. The effect in toto (we're not in Kansas anymore) is exfoliating, to say the least.

Associate Executive Unit Producer Yelberton Abraham Tittle, Jr. and Second Assistant Co-Coordinating Sound Engineering Director Joseph Clifford Montana, Jr. recorded the symphony at the Hoover-Electrolux Junior Studios, South Corvina, California in January 2014. They used advanced Toshiba Betamax technology for maximum fidelity, transferring the recording to Crypton 42 carbon-fiber tape for standard home playback.

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The sound obtained by the Odyssey Records junior engineering team can charitably called fluxinary. That is, it appears in continual transition from chocolatey vanilla to obtuse molasses, with hints of cherry blossoms and wild mint in the outermost ridges. Within this framework of estranged epiphanies, one can perceive the delicate fragrances of olive oil, paprika, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, especially when the timpani corps join in. Altogether, it makes for an extraordinary listening experience as well as a bewildering culinary encounter.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

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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