“ He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster, and if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche ( 1844 – 1900 ) Beyond Good and Evil.
Having spent so much time gazing into the dark abyss of Islamic terrorism the above aphorism by Nietzsche has been a concern to me, so I think that I and my readers need a refreshing reminder that there is a more joyous world above the abyss. It also brings to mind another quote from the English playwright William Congreve (1670 – 1729 ) ” Music has charms to soothe a savage heart.”
I dedicate this varied collection of music to Ayham Hussein a 15 year old Iraqi boy who was dragged from his home and beheaded for the terrible crime of listening to Western music. His murderers hearts weren’t soothed.
Let’s start with some dance. The best flash mob dance ever from Moscow. It’s so full of vigour and happiness it gives me a lift every time I watch it. The youth of Russia know how to dance and enjoy themselves
Now something different. Nocturne No 1 in E flat major, composed by a lesser known composer John Field ( 1782 – 1837. Field was born in Dublin, Ireland but spent much of his time in St Petersburg Russia. His music was said to have influenced Chopin and others like Brahms, Schumann and Liszt. I can believe that, since the first time I heard this nocturne I could have sworn it was Chopin. The pianist is Lisa Yiu who unsurprisingly plays it wonderfully with a gentle touch.
One of the all time greats of blues music McKinley Morganfield or as he is better known Muddy Waters. He and many of his contemporary African American musicians ( more of them later ) had an immense influence on much of our modern music. Here he is with ” Mississippi delta blues ”
I don’t know anything that can bring people together like music. It is wonderful how the peoples of the East and far East have not only developed an interest in Western classical music, but have in many cases mastered it and become among the finest classical musicians and singers in the world today. The beautiful Korean soprano Kim Soo-Yeon sings Der Hölle Roche ( Queen of the night ) from Mozarts ” Die Zauberflöte.
Vivian and Phil Williams are legends of Hoedown and Bluegrass music of the Pacific North West of the US. They have a great online shop for CDs and books etc., on this type of great music. I recommend it. The following video is of Vivian and another fiddle legend Jimmy Widner playing ” Flop Eared Mule. ” click here for the shop.
Jussi Björling, probably the greatest tenor of all time. Well! Pavarotti seemed to think so, and that’s good enough for me. Here he is singing the beautifully haunting love song Una furtiva lagrima ( a single furtive tear ) from the Italian opera L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti.
Now for something special. 13 year old Uziah Tzadok an Israeli boy from Samaria singing ” Tzel Etz Tamar ” ( shadow of the palm tree ) on a talent show. He only learned the song 3 days earlier. What a voice. I’ll give you the lyrics of the first verse in English. More of Uziah later.
Shadow of the palm tree and the moonlight
And violin’s tune charms the heart
Rising in a sound, trembling and splitting apart
From the strings is spreading the pain
Play violin, Play your songs
How great is the darkness and the silence around us
Your melodies will make me forget my suffering.
Joe Bonamassa. Sloe Gin ” No need to say much. Blues guitar at its very best. Love it. For you Evelyn.
Helen Forrest. I must be getting old. I can remember sitting listening to radio Luxembourg on an old wireless set. The big band sound was all the rage and Helen was one of the best swingers. Strange thing about the singers in those days, you could actually make out the words of the lyrics. Helen lived to the ripe old age of 82 and died in 1999. Here she is with the Artie Shaw orchestra singing Deep Purple. Love it.
Procol Harum ” A Whiter Shade of Pale ” the wonderful 1967 hit single. Some of the older generation at the time couldn’t get their heads around the lyrics and said that it was shockingly all about taking drugs. What a load of rubbish! The lyrics were perfectly understandable after you smoked a couple of joints. I’ve chosen a recording of the original youthful band because it brings back memories of my own youth, but the band is still going strong with admittedly only Garry Brooker as an original member. So I also want to show a much older Garry playing and singing with orchestra and choir in Denmark 2006. It is really beautiful. It isn’t a surprise that “A Whiter Shade of Pale” should go well with an orchestra, because the background melody is loosely based on J.S.Bach’s Orchestral Suite No 3 in D Major. Enjoy both.
Now Joe Satriani rock guitarist extraordinary. I’d like to play all his numbers, but I’m on a journey, so here is ” Always with me, always with you”.
So you’re a classical purist, you just hate someone mucking about with the music of your classical geniuses, but there is a popular myth about the old classical composers. The idea that they were, despite their undoubted genius, merely masters of the expected, purveyors of tradition and safety, couldn’t be more wrong. They were the pioneers of their day, innovative and often, in the minds of their audiences, outrageous. If Stravinsky was to magically reappear today and hear Tomita’s version of his Firebird Suite, I can almost guarantee he would say “Wow! Where can I get a Moog synthesiser”?
Here is Isao Tomita’s adaptation of Claude Debussy’s ” Tone Paintings” which Tomita calls “Snowflakes are dancing”. It is every bit as beautiful as Debussy’s original composition, and there is a hidden story to it. When many people hear Tomita’s version they instantly claim that it is not Debussy but in fact Wagner, and they are sort of right. Debussy was an admirer of Wagner’s music and when he wrote “Tone Paintings” he began it with mimicking the opening bars of Wagner’s prelude to Tristan und Isolde. So when we hear Tomita we are listening to Tomita mimicking Debussy who is mimicking Wagner, but nothing alters the fact that it is beautiful music.
OK! So after the peace and calm of the last piece you want to get the blood pumping. No need for the exercise bike, just listen to Slash and Miles Kennedy “Paradise City”.
A wonderful woman and a wonderful pianist. Famous for her Boogie-Woogie and ragtime music, but also a wonderful classical pianist. Here she is in both modes.
Now Chopin: Fantasie – Impromptu, this time on Grand piano. Wow.