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ETHEL Pokes Fun at Classical Music

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Charles T. Downey, Todd Rundgren and Ethel: Reimagining the ’70s
Washington Post, October 30, 2012

available at Amazon
T. Riley, Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector (inter alia), Kronos Quartet
Did anything good come out of the 1970s? Music of all kinds was composed, and that was the focus of “Tell Me Something Good,” the latest venture off the beaten path for the string quartet known as Ethel. The group is on tour with ’70s rock musician Todd Rundgren, and they appeared at the Clarice Smith Center on Sunday evening.

The ’70s were my first decade on this planet, and none of Rundgren’s songs stuck out in my memories of childhood. Now in his 60s, Rundgren vocalized in a mixture of singing, wheeze and growl, with the high range of his voice often in tatters. Still seeking new sounds, he has reconceived some of his old songs in unusual ways, such as accompanying himself on “Bang the Drum All Day” (from 1983) with a ukulele, and the partnership with Ethel yielded some fun twists, as in the rock-patter piece “The Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song,” originally by Gilbert and Sullivan. [Continue reading]
Some praise crossover experiments like ETHEL’s for introducing other kinds of audiences to classical music, but in this concert too many jokes made at the expense of fussy, boring classical music put the lie to that claim.

Tell Me Something Good
ETHEL and Todd Rundgren
Clarice Smith Center

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