Sunday, December 5, 2010

For Christmas - Some Suggestions?

I haven't offered suggestions for Christmas in some years now, so I thought that I would offer some little "gumdrops" for consideration in the gift-giving department!

For Christmas itself, may I suggest that you look for a recording called "Christmastide,", which is a number of carols played on old instruments - it is delightful in its simplicity and clarity. We really do not hear that often these days the beloved carols in a more proper setting.

For the children, a video called "Beethoven Lives Upstairs" really tells us of the personal side of the great composer, even though it is rather fictionalized, to a point. I enjoyed the atmosphere surrounding Beethoven in his daily life, going from apartment to apartment etc. - it's quite charming, and will give youngsters some insight into the life style of this fabled composer.

Also, for the youngster, why not acquire the Walt Disney movie, "Fantasia?" It's a marvelous blend of great music coupled with the visions that Disney had about coupling Sight and Sound together - a defining trip into the world of Imagination.

Finally, young people may like to see very early Disney, back in the 1930's, when Disney decides to fuse music and cartoon, with no dialogue whatsoever - these are true classics. They are called "Silly Symphonies."

For the pop listener, why not look for the "Great Songs of World War Two," performed by the great performers of that time? It tells us of the particularized genius that the American composers possessed, to write one pretty tune after another, some of which have continued to be heard today - from Sinatra to Crosby to Fitzgerald to Goodman to Ellington to Basie, and on-and-on - it's a three disc set, and worth listening to and owning.

For the most satirical pop recording I know of, look for "Jonathan and Darlene Edwards." I once wrote a blog about this unique recording, and it's worth looking for - a truly singular approach to performance.

For the classical lover, look for a book called "Evenings With Horowitz," a delightful series of visits to the Horowitz home in New York by a teacher at Juillard, a friend of the great virtuoso.
One will visit the informal side of Horowitz, and be witness to that Puckish sense of humor he was known for among his close friends and associates.

How about a book by Oscar Levant, called "A Smattering of Ignorance?"

For those not familiar with the revolutionary device called the Vorsetzer, created during the first few years of the 2oth century, look for some of the incredible performances by such names of the past as Grieg, Debussy, Ravel, Lhevinne, Busoni and many other legendary figures in music who straddled both the 19th and 20th centuries. You might look at my blog on this machine that will give you greater insight as regards an event that created a sensation among the great musicians of that time.

Finally, in the event that the recipient of any present you give does not own the Beethoven Nine Symphonies by either Bruno Walter or Arturo Toscanini, you cannot miss giving a most delightful and meaningful gift!



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