目前分類:每週音樂精選 (44)

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As year-end holidays approach, it is often heard about those Christmas choirs on streets. But I think of the New Year Concert in Vienna, those Waltz, Polka and March from the Strauss family.

Vienna, the city of music and the city of my dream --- in 1913, Rudolf Sieczynski composed the popular song “Wien, du Stadt meiner Träume” (Vienna, city of my dreams). It was the period of defiance and uncertainty, but Sieczynski’s song captures the authentic timeless charming spirit of Vienna, that takes listeners on a sentimental journey to the great city.

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This is a clip from 1994 Belgian film "Farinelli". The music to be shared this week is "Lascia ch'io pianga" (from 3:00).

Before, I didn’t recognize Haendel as a great song writer until I saw the film “Farinelli”, a movie about the famous 18th century Italian Castrati Farinelli and his contradictory relationship with his brother and Haendel, which was precisely depicted by this aria. Farinelli’s voice was "reconstructed" by a mixture of counter-tenor and female soprano.

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When Tchaikovsky was invited to write a ballet music based on Perrault’s fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” in 1888, it was the beginning of the great collaboration in classical ballet. With choreography by Maricus Petipa, Sleeping Beauty premiered in Mariinsky Theatre in 1890, was Tchaikovsky’s first major success in ballet composition, and set a new standard for what is now called “Classical Ballet”.

The pas de deux in Act III, in particular, remained one of all time favorites in the whole of the ballet repertoire. While we tend to be amazed by great artistry and techniques of the dancers, the music itself has strong magic with beautiful melody, different pace and momentum, different weight and volume that reinforce the performance of the dance.

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Riccardo Drigo was one of the important ballet music composers working closely with Marius Petipa. The collaboration with Petipa in 1900 for ballet “Harlequin’s Millions” was a success.

Riccardo Drigo's score spawned two popular repertory pieces, the Serenade and the Valse bluette, both of which are considered cornerstones of Salon music. Later he re-wrote the music “serenade” with lyrics as "Notturno d'amor" for Beniamino Gigli. Ever since it has been arranged for every imaginable instrument as a repertory piece.

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How weird it is when you are doing a floor bar exercise at the same time hearing music transcribed from excerpt of La Traviata aria. I don’t speak Italian, but almost start to sing with the music “A quell’amor…Misterioso…” . I cannot help visualizing the scene of Violetta alone in her room (La Traviata, Act I Scene V, Violeta’s aria) --- thinking about her falling in love with Afredo but soon concluding her own needs to live her life free. As a result, I kind of lose the focus of the floor bar exercise, but enter into the world of La Traviata.

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The music for this week is inspired by a conversation.

"Being Boring" is Pet Shop Boys’ single from 1990 album. The song was not a chart hit at that time. But as many Pet Shop Boys songs, it has charm in melody and meanings in lyrics. The title is derived from Zelda Fitzgerald’s quote “she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring.” The song is concerned with the idea of growing up and how people's perceptions and values change as they grow older.

Being Boring (1990 version with 2003 Digital Remaster) => very nicely made black and white music video

Now comparing original music to the live performance in 2009 when “boys are no longer boys”. The biggest change is: everything is more “human” now, even Neil Tennant’s voice becomes more human.

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I am quite surrounded by music that is expressed as "unconcerned" but expresses something "very concerned" recently. Sakamoto's Tango, and now "Besame Mucho".

Besame Mucho has been performed by so many artists. Too many of them interpret the song too sentimentally, sensually or emotionally. (Although many audiences do like these ways of expressing Latino passion)

And I just want to share this "unconcerned" expression with fully sincerity and purity into the music. Not to mention also the amazing improvisation and magic interaction between two artists.

Caetano Veloso & João Gilberto in 2000

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People tend to associate “Tango” with music and dance genre from Argentina. But the song this week although named as “tango” has nothing to do with Argentinean Tango.

This is a work by Japanese artist Ryuichi Sakamoto in his “Smoochy” Album. I am not sure how Sakamoto was inspired by elements of Tango. Melody itself, instrumental and vocal interpretation can be quite “flat”, which seems to be indifferent and detached. However, the magic actually lays in contrast --- this song is extremely expressive and emotional, maybe just like Tango……

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While I was writing the short article regarding Mercedes Sosa, I found this great song sung by Mercedes Sosa and Joan Manuel Serrat.

Serrat and Sosa duet

Interestingly, quite similar to Sosa, Serrat is also a musician who fights for his belief with music.

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I learned this song when I was in a German class. The teacher used this song to teach grammar and make exercise. Given the poem piece by piece, we were asked to reassemble the whole poem, based on grammar logic and flow of a story line (you can create your own, as long as it makes sense.)

Goethe makes this poem so interesting because of its ambiguity and open for interpretation. Goethe's poem begins with a young boy being brought home by his father. You don’t know what happen to the boy and the father. But it seems that the boy is in pain and illness and sees death in his imagination. At the end, the child is dead. The words are so vivid that you can visualize the tension and despair.

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Having been walking in the streets of Copenhagen this afternoon in the rain, wind and cold air, I cannot help thinking of this song.

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Ochi chyornye (Dark Eyes) is a Russian traditional folk song with a strong Gypsy essence. However, the words and music were actually written by a Ukrainian poet Yevhen Hrebinka and a German composer Forian Hermann in 19th century.

Feodor Chaliapin, a reputable Russian Bass, made the song popular abroad in a version amended by himself in the early 20th century.

This song is definitely a signature of Russian folk song, soulful and emotional expression for solo recital, choir, instrumental performance of accordion, violin and trumpet. The Gypsy essence makes it a song of sadness and bitterness but eventually of strengths and energy.

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Eugene Onegin is one of my favorite operas, consists of great music, heart-breaking story based on the novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin and plenty of brilliant arias.

The story concerns a selfish hero (Onegin) who lives to regret his rejection of a young woman's (Tatyana) love and his careless incitement of a fatal duel with his best friend (Lenski).

In Act III Scene I, Onegin appeared in a nobleman’s mansion in St. Petersburg. The host Prince Gremin entered the ballroom with his wife Tatyana. Onegin asked Prince Gremin to present him to his wife and Prince Gremin sang the famous aria “Lyubvi vsye vorsrasti pokorni” (Love is no respecter of age/Everyone knows love on earth).

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Samson et Dalila is a grand opera in three acts and four tableaux by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire. The opera is based on the Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah as recounted in the Old Testament's Book of Judges, chapters 16. The second act, the love scene in Delilah's tent, is one of the set pieces that define French opera. Two of Delilah's arias are particularly well known: "Printemps qui commence" and "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix".

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Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico (tragic opera) in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. For decades Lucia was considered to be a mere showpiece for coloratura sopranos and was a little-known part of the operatic repertory. Since 1950s, famous sopranos such as Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland revived the opera of its tragic glory.

Arias of Lucia are truly challenging for its technical and expressional difficulties. “Regnava nel Silenzio” is Lucia’s famous aria in Act 1 Scene 2. Lucia is waiting for Edgardo. She tells her maid Alisa she has seen the ghost of a girl killed on the very same spot by a jealous Ravenswood ancestor.

Now listen to the performance by Sutherland and Callas.

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My Fair Lady is a musical based upon George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins so that she can pass as a lady. The musical's 1956 Broadway production was a hit. Later on in 1964 came a popular film version.

Audrey Hepburn as Eliza

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It is catastrophe. It is sorrow. It is anger.

Simple and pure strength remains – hope, faith and love.

“Amazing grace” is the well-know Christian hymn of Scottish origin. Whether it is presented with instrumental chord, choir or solo, I may capture the universal spirit it brings to spread the healing power for rebirth.

Bless Taiwan! 天佑台灣!

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"La vie en rose" was the signature song of French singer Édith Piaf. Piaf first popularized the song in 1946. The lyrics were written by Piaf and the melody of the song by "Louiguy" (Louis Gugliemi). Initially, Piaf's peers and her songwriting team did not think the song would be successful, but it became a favorite with audiences.

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Carrying on the mood of “summer” last week, I kept thinking of Okinawa. So the music of the week must have an Okinawa mood.

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In the very hot summer days, one might think of Southern All Stars. It is a Japanese super pop band, quite commonly associated with summer and ocean.

The following Southern All Stars song “愛の言霊~Spiritual Message” released in 1996 for me is very “summer”.

サザンオールスターズ 愛の言霊~Spiritual Message~

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