Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christopher Hogwood Academy of Ancient Music: Handel’s Messiah (1980)

Handel’s Messiah, by the Christopher Hogwood Academy of Ancient Music (AAM), conducted by Christopher Hogwood, in this 1980 rendition and recording is considered one of the finest performances of this Christmas classic performed and recorded at the grand and magnificent Westminster Abby in London, England. Also present and predominant are the Choir of Westminster Abby, with Simon Preston as organist and master of the choralists; soloists Simon Preston, Judith Nelson, Emma Kirkby, Carolyn Watkinson, Paul Elliott and David Thomas. This masterpiece was composed by George Frideric Handel [1685–1759] between August 22, 1741 and September 14, 1741 in  London; and the libretto-compiler by Charles Jennens, who used the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer for his source inspiration. It premiered in Dublin on April 13, 1742, and a year later in London. This oratorio transcends the boundaries of religion, culture and geography.  For a fine background piece on Christopher Hogwood [1941–2014], see the article (“Reconstructing Messiah performances;” August 2, 2007) in Gramophone [here].
Via: Youtube

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Jacqueline du Pré and the London Symphony Orchestra: Dvořák Cello Concerto (1968)

Dvořák Cello Concerto in B minor, opus 104, B. 191, performed by by Jacqueline du Pré and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, at the Royal Albert Hall, in London, England, on September 2, 1968. For more, see [here].

This concert was held in tribute to the people of Czechoslovakia, taking place days after the Soviet Union invaded this country (August 20–September 20, 1968), thus crushing the people’s aspirations and hopes for freedom. It would take another twenty years, with the Fall of the Soviet Union, for this to be realized. Such is a hopeful reminder that evil regimes do not last forever, even if at the time they seem that they will never end, causing much misery to those under its boot. But they do end, and when they do, they collapse for the reasons that they no longer have the support of the People. Music and the Arts go a long way to keep People mindful of this, bringing beauty, truth and justice to the forefront. Enjoy this wonderful performance.

The Concert

1. Allegro 0:00
2. Adagio, ma non troppo 16:10
3. Finale 29:01

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (2014)

Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 7 in A major, opus 92, by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Iván Fischer, at the Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on January 9–10, 2014. Beethoven completed this four-movement symphony around 1812 in the Bohemian spa town of Teplice, where he went to improve his health. Beethoven himself conducted this piece in Vienna, Austria, on December 8, 1813. In Notes on Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Christopher H. Gibbs writes for NPR as to its immediate appeal, one that continues two centuries later: “After its premiere, the Seventh Symphony was repeated three times in the following 10 weeks; at one of the performances the ‘applause rose to the point of ecstasy,’ according to a newspaper account. The Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung reported that ‘the new symphony (A major) was received with so much applause, again. The reception was as animated as at the first time; the Andante [sic] (A minor), the crown of modern instrumental music, as at the first performance, had to be repeated.’ The Symphony's appeal is not hard to understand. In scope and intensity, it is fully Beethovenian, and yet it does not place quite as many demands on the listener as does the ‘Eroica.’ The ambition of the first movement, beauty of the second, the breathlessness of the scherzo, and relentless energy of the finale did not fail to impress audiences. Beethoven himself called it ‘one of the happiest products of my poor talents.’”
Via: Youtube

Friday, November 30, 2018

Queen & George Michael: Somebody to Love (1992)

Queen & George Michael: Somebody to Love (1992) in a tribute concert for Freddy Mercury at Wembley Stadium in Wembley, London, England, on April 20, 1992. As Eagle Rock Entertainment on Youtube writes: “On April 20th 1992, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon, the surviving members of Queen, took to the stage at Wembley Stadium for the start of one of the biggest events in rock history, which the band had organised to pay tribute to their former colleague—the incomparable Freddie Mercury. Queen were joined by some of the greatest musical talent in the world to celebrate Freddie's life and work and to increase public awareness of AIDS, the disease that had prematurely ended his life the previous year. As well as being great entertainment, the concert raised a huge and still growing sum of money for the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity formed at the time whose charter is the relief of suffering from AIDS throughout the world. Now for the first time both halves of the concert are being made available on Digital video. 
    “Special guests include David Bowie, Gary Cherone, Roger Daltrey, Def Leppard, Joe Elliot, Extreme, Bob Geldof, Guns 'n' Roses, James Hetfield, Ian Hunter, Tony Iommi, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Metallica, George Michael, Liza Minnelli, Robert Plant, Mick Ronson, Axl Rose, Seal, Slash, Lisa Stansfield, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Young & Zucchero.” Truly, it really all comes down to love, and many of our actions in life are in pursuit of love, and in finding somebody to love, one who will return this love.
Via: Youtube

Thursday, November 29, 2018

An Ordinary Man Speaking For Ordinary People During These Changing Times: Harry Leslie Smith [1923–2018]

The Common Good

Harry Leslie Smith [1923–2018] dedicated his life to the common good, raging against poverty, fascism and the dismantling of public health care—such becoming all too common among western democracies that once were liberal and now are neoliberal, unduly and perniciously influenced by corporations and elitist corporate interests who had the money and the means to change the way governments governed and made policy—a downward slide for the common man that began in the late 1970s. No doubt, Smith’s upbringing during the Great Depression, his service during the Second World War and his life experiences as a working man guided his views, as is the case with us all, including me. Smith was neither an elitist nor a politician, but, rather, a person with a moral vision. We can all look to his example; and many happily did. The CBC writes: “‘I am the world’s oldest rebel,’ said Harry Leslie Smith, a prominent anti-poverty activist who authored several books on the Great Depression, the Second Word War and postwar austerity, has died in an eastern Ontario hospital.” He was 95.
Via: Youtube & CBC News