Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 3/8/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Sunday’s (did you turn your clock ahead?) song is #507:

Elmore James – Cry for Me

One of the most technologically advanced artists of his era, James was multi-tracking in stereo as early as 1956! Not to be confused with the boogie Cry for Me Baby, this is a fast, sinister shuffle featuring the great Chicago blues guitarist in terse, fast, minor-key mode without his trademark slide. Mp3s are out there, but be prepared for some sifting.

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March 7, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Llyr Williams plays Schubert, Debussy and Moussorgsky at Weill Recital Hall, NYC 3/6/09

Being what it is, the Carnegie Hall complex has seen thousands of legendary debut performances. This was one of them. Welsh pianist Llyr Williams has such command of the keyboard that he seems to inhabit what he plays. There are thousands of hotshot pianists out there, few with Williams’ seemingly intuitive sensitivity to dynamics and emotional content coupled to a spectacular technical fluency. Throughout a program matching subtlety to fire, he came across as ideally suited to play the Romantics.

 

Schubert’s Piano Sonata in C Minor, D. 958 is classic Schubertiade material, ablaze with inviting color and glistening cascades. Williams left himself plenty of headroom to let those many shades reveal themselves in their complexity, particularly toward the end of the first movement where he used an almost jarring staccato in an ascending bassline to set off a contrast with the fluidly rapidfire upper-register chromatics following close behind.

 

Debussy’s Estampes, a trio suite, were next. The first, Pagodas is a remarkably successful attempt to translate Javanese gamelan music to the piano, a difficult work with its percussive pointillisms, but Williams made it look easy. Night in Grenada, the second of the three begins as a nocturne and then suddenly the lights come on, and Williams lit into it with gusto. With its rivulets rushing up and down the length of the keys, Garden in the Rain is a showstopper. Hailstorm would be a better title – by the time it’s over, the kale is shredded and the parsnips are half-unearthed by the torrents, and Williams barreled through it with a confident abandon.

 

The second half of the program was Pictures at an Exhibition, and it was nice to revisit the old warhorse. Ravel’s orchestrated version is the one that most audiences know, and that’s too bad because that one subsumes the creepiness in the original solo piano version, which isn’t simply phantasmagorical: most of it is flat-out morbid. Williams found all that, but he also gave its many caricatures depth and dignity. The Gnome in the opening section was menacingly substantial, the Old Castle as filled with fleeting ghosts as a castle can be, and when the Great Gate at Kiev came around, Williams had held enough in reserve to let its crashing fortississimo resound in all its towering majesty. He encored with a comfortably familiar Chopin piece, which was perfectly fine for what it was but couldn’t help but be anything other than anticlimactic. Now that we’ve seen what this guy can do with the 1800s, it would be interesting to hear what he does with Bach. Or Maxwell Davies.

March 7, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Song of the Day 3/7/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Saturday’s song is #508:

David Bowie – Rock N Roll Suicide

The whole point of suicide songs is to discourage anyone considering it – those who write that kind of song typically do so as an alternative. Has this anthem ever saved a life? Wouldn’t bet against it. YOU’RE NOT ALONE!!! Last cut on Ziggy Stardust, 1972; mp3s are everywhere.

March 7, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment