Sunday, July 27, 2008

What I'm Reading/Listening/Hearing/Seeing

The angel By Neggers, Carla
I've found a new-to-me romantic suspense author to fill my time between new Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Suzanne Brockmann releases. And she has a hearty backlist for my extended reading pleasure!

Angel, like so many other romantic-suspense titles today, has a whiff of the paranormal. Fortunately, it does not overwhelm the quick pace and emotional impact of the book. Big bonus for the Ireland-Boston connections between characters and their history. Nice little tidbits about Irish folklore are interspersed as well humor in character interactions make this a pleasant snuggle-up-and-read-in-bed book. It is also suitable for hammocks, beaches, comfy chairs and, cautiously, bathtubs.

On a brief break from e-audio, I'm enjoying the Stephanie Miller show. This is just the morning-drive thing for the liberal. Humor driven, it always has a sly, or blatant, humorous dig at the neocons. Or at least humorous to a more liberal person.

On Stephanie's days off, the black liberal morning-drive humor POV is emphatically and hilariously represented by the comedy duo Frangela.

Soon to be Listening!
I'd planned to start trying out the Bullet-Catcher series written by Roxanne St. Claire. ("Trained to protect. Able to kill. Willing to die. And drop-dead gorgeous."). I was dismayed to find my library doesn't have book one of the series, Kill Me Twice. So I decided, what the heck, just this once I'll order a copy from Amazon.

This action has contributed to the economic downfall of many reading and music enthusiasts. In my case, I remembered I had been meaning to add to my more "serious" symphonic and choral recordings. A girl can't live by rock, folk, roots, Chanticleer and oldies alone!

I am also, as a former performer and live-long music lover, to say that I did not have these recordings before - except for a couple of now-useless casettes. So here's the damage:

Rachmaninoff Greatest Hits
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is one of my most favorite-in-the-world symphonic works. Yeah it's schmaltzy. Sure it's overdone. Does it appeal to my romantic soul? Does the naked longing of the piece stir me? Do I defy anyone to resist its blatant allure? Yes! Yes to it all! It was also the first music cassette I owned. I chose this because the London Symphony Orchestra is as good an orchestra for this as any.

I will say that the "greatest hits" concept for a non-pop musician is tired. Get over it publicists. People will either dig it or they won't.

Faure: Requiem
One of the first serious extened choral work I sant. It was also part of my early exposure to singing church latin, unusual for a protestant. The In Paradisum of this work is among the most touching of works in the choral canon. The score and vocals are evocative of the traditional angelic view of paradise using harps and voice. Extra Bonus Points that it is a Deutsche Grammophon recording.

Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms; Symphony in C; Symphony in Three Movements
Strivinsky's Symphony of Psalms is a piece I can not sing. I had the opportunity. I have the ability. If I'd had the strength at the time I could probably have overcome my overwhelming emotional response and performed it.

Such was not to be. The Alleluia/Laudate Eum (Psalm 150) did me in. I still quake with the spirit when I think of it. I have no explanation for the glorious gut response to my enounter with this work and why it stays with me even 20 years later.

The notes , patterns, and tempo follow a course contrary to the lyrics. Voice lines meet and converge, orchestral lines meet and converge like the clashing of cymbals in the text (Laudate Eum in cymbalis bene sonantibus/Laudate Eum in cymbalis jubilantionibus.) Solemnity and praise. Tension and release.

A slow tempo for praise, interrupted with louder, quicker Laudates. And an eerie almost-stillness wafting above. If Faure's In Paradisum is angelic, this is far above ethereal.

I can not sing it, only sit in trembling awe and adoration as I experience it.

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