29 November 2009

Lesser dissatisfactions

Mixed feelings about what is nevertheless a fine recording to listen to, Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra playing Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet, Opus 64 (on Decca, originally recorded June 1973). There are some tempo decisions which not only strike me as wrong, but which (meseems) ought to have been obvious to the conductor as being wrong, from where the music goes. Some numbers in which one wishes the players had been more on the edge of their seats. Nothing fatal, though I wonder (ah, speculation, where would we be without it? Or was that a speculative question?) if I would have fallen for Prokofiev’s piece (as I did, back in the early 90’s) like a ton of proverbial bricks, if this had been the recording to introduce me thereto?

Oxygen levels are getting yet more stringently reduced. It felt bad enough, that some radio stations had started the Christmas muzak music on 13 November. Felt bad enough, that one could no longer trust any sense of the proximity of Christmas because the time has arrived when the occasional strain of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” falleth upon the ear.

But now, fewer than half the car radio presets are safe havens from Christmas schlock.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” can be a trial to endure singing them through; and sheer agony to endure listening to it. But the torture has risen to exquisitely sadistic heights in a reissue of a particularly insipid version sung by Frank Sinatra and sundry Sinatra offspring. This was really a dark corner of the studio vaults which should have been walled up after a jeroboam of Amontillado.

And yet, honestly, that is not the worst of it.

Is that not terrifying? Rum pa pum pum.

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