Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 9/12/11

Every day with rare exceptions (like yesterday), our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Monday’s album is #505:

The Very Best Of Marlene Dietrich

42 tracks from the prototypical world-weary chanteuse, goth girl and lesbian icon, 1930 through the late 50s. As you would expect, there are a million Dietrich anthologies out there, and pretty much anything she did in German before 1940 is worth a listen. We chose this one because A) it’s downloadable and B) it’s a good mix of both the teutonic and the American stuff. It wouldn’t be here if it didn’t have Lili Marlene and My Blue Heaven; it’s also got Ich bin die fesche Lola, and its American translation; Nimm dich in acht vor blonden Frauen (and Blonde Women); Das Lied is aus; the amusing German version of Miss Otis Regrets, Mein Mann ist verhindert; along with risque American dancehall stuff like The Boys in the Back Room, Makin’ Whoopee and You’re the Cream in My Coffee. If you think this is all camp, give a listen: it’s actually pretty creepy. Nico couldn’t have existed without her. Here’s a random torrent.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surfing with Cellos: Quattrocelli in Their New York Debut, 4/17/08

Harsher critics would have called this a pops concert: among the selections in the group’s impressively diverse set at Trinity Church were several movie themes. Just about anything with the slightest bit of melody sounds good if played on the electric guitar, and the same could be said for the cello. But it was  German cello quartet Quattrocelli’s playful, often astonishingly imaginative arrangements that ultimately won over the crowd and earned them a standing ovation. Everybody knows the Godfather theme, but how many have heard it all the way through? Quattrocelli’s cover of that old chestnut brought out every bit of tragedy in Nino Rota’s score. Likewise, they did a full-length version of Lalo Schifrin’s Mission Impossible, its middle section revealing itself full of bracing atmospherics worthy of Messiaen. And their cover of Misirlou – yet another composition best known to most audiences as a surf song – started out remarkably authentic, one of the players doing percussion on his cello with his fingers, evoking the dumbek (a hand drum that appears in most Middle Eastern music) which was almost undoubtedly on the original Greek version. But after the bridge, one of the cellists took it straight into Agent Orange territory, wailing furiously on the song’s famous riff while the others played subtly off the melody.

Otherwise, the group proved themselves at home with a wide range of styles. These ranged from baroque (Bach’s famous Air on a G String) to classical (two short, striking Shostakovich pieces, the Balkan dance Ball at the Palace and the hauntingly gorgeous Chitarri, which as one of the group explained became a tv spy show theme), to modernist (a jazz piece by German composer Helmuth Brandt, a Hans Eisler nocturne and a Gershwin medley wherein one of the cellists mimed a trombone while the rest of the group authentically mimicked the horn’s voicings, with hilarious results). Their encore, My Way, was uncharacteristically timid, crying out for a Sid Vicious standin to take over and put some kind of original stamp on it. But it made a point: Quattrocelli sound like no other chamber quartet in the world, and they’re fearless about it. Their next US tour promises to include works by American composers, which should be interesting, to say the least.

April 17, 2008 Posted by | classical music, concert, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment