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Put Down Your Pencils

QuizI hope Teach will accept late work! It's time for another irresistible quiz from Soho the Dog--

1. What's the best quotation of a piece of music within another piece of music?
I always get a laugh from Debussy poking fun at the five-finger exercises of Carl Czerny in the first étude.

2. Name the best classical crossover album ever made.
To say "best" would be to imply that crossover can be good, but I have been able to stand Juan Diego Flórez's Sentimiento Latino and Sting's Songs from the Labyrinth.

Giuseppina Strepponi, photograph from 1896
3. Great piece with a terrible title.
Mahler, Symphony of a Thousand. It's not really terrible, but it is a pedestrian title and usually inaccurate.

4. If you had to choose: Benjamin Britten or Michael Tippett?
Benjy, hands down.

5. Who's your favorite spouse of a composer/performer? (Besides your own.)
Giuseppina Strepponi, the tough-minded soprano (and unofficial business manager) who lived with Verdi for over a decade (shocking!) before they made it official and got married. The voice in her letters is so memorable.

6. Terrible piece with a great title.
Osvaldo Golijov, Oceana. As a big fan of Pablo Neruda's poetry, I so wanted to like this, but it only reinforced my misgivings about Golijov. He is good at catchy rhythms and evocative colors, but after one hearing, which was pleasant enough, I find little reason to return. "Oceana! Oceana! Oce! Oce! cea! cea! ana! ana!" Next.

7. What's the best use of a classical warhorse in a Hollywood movie?
Carmina Burana and Tristan und Isolde in Excalibur; or Schubert's Ave Maria at the end of Alive.

Excalibur ("Guards! Knights! Squires!")

8. Name the worst classical crossover album ever made.
Sarah Brightman's entire God-forsaken catalogue. That woman must be stopped.

9. If you had to choose: Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye?
Both great singers, but if forced to choose, it would be the Washingtonian, Marvin Gaye.

10. Name a creative type in a non-musical medium who would have been a great composer.
Ingmar Bergman or Wassily Kandinsky. They already thought in musical terms.


For opera nerds: If you had to choose:
a) Lawrence Tibbett or Robert Merrill?

Robert Merrill, natch.

Available at Amazon:
available at Amazon
Canciones Españolas, Teresa Berganza, Narciso Yepes
b) Amelita Galli-Curci or Lily Pons?
Lily Pons, but I have a weakness for French singers. I would like to hear more of La Galli-Curci, though.

For early-music nerds: Name a completely and hopelessly historically uninformed recording that you nevertheless love.
Teresa Berganza's album Canciones Españolas, with guitarist Narciso Yepes, is a rare operatic foray into early music. The album opens with one of the Cantigas de Santa Maria by Alfonso El Sabio and has pieces by Luys de Narváez and Luis de Milán from the Renaissance, too. It is a world away from historically informed (hah!), but the chance to hear Berganza's glorious voice that close and with such a small accompaniment is luxurious. The album has just been re-released last month.


Anonymous said...

1) Shostakovich 15 quoting Rossini
2) Switched on Bach--unless you think it's too good to be classified as crossover. In which case I give you the Swingle Singers.
3)Kindertotenlieder must be one of the most depressing titles ever thought of.
4. Britten
5. Either Cosima or Alma. And the fact that you almost certainly know whom I mean by just their first names should indicate why.
6. Einstein on the Beach. Which actually should be either a punk band or a classy cocktail.
7. I'd have to agree about Excalibur.
8. A close tie: Hooked on Classics, or anything related to a PBS special.
9. Gaye
10. John Cage :) Serious answer: Frank Lloyd Wright
a) From the little I've heard of Tibbett, I'd pick him.
b)Anyone with the name Amelita Galli Curci was born to be a diva.
early history question: Casal's recording of the Bach Cello Suites, which probably qualify as historical all by themselves.

Charles T. Downey said...

Ha! Several good ones. Thanks.