Monday, May 27, 2013

Playlist: "Classics-Sunday, 26th May 2013

Stephen Vincent Benét: writer-"John Brown's Body-Tyrone Power-Judith Anderson-Raymond Massey" Columbia LP-OSL 181-complete w/Tyrone Power, Judith Anderson, Raymond Massey-Walter Schumann chorus-Richard White, choral director-Betty Benson, soprano-Roger Miller, bass-Charles Laughton, director and adapter

Playlist: "The Best of Broadway" Sunday 26th May 2013

Leonard Bernstein: music-Betty Comden & Adolph Green: lyrics-"On the Town" (1960 studio cast) Columbia CK 2038-excerpts w/ Adolph Green, John Reardon, Cris Alexander, Betty Comden, Nancy Walker-Leonard Bernstein, conductor

Richard Rodgers:music & Oscar Hammerstein II: lyrics-"South Pacific" (2008 Broadway cast) Sony Masterworks Broadway 88697 30457-2-excerpts w/Danny Burstein, Kelli O'Hara, Matthew Morrison, Paulo Szot-Ted Sperling, music director

Kurt Weill: music & Paul Green:lyrics: "Weill/Green/Music(sic)for Johnny Johnson-Joel Cohen"(1997 studio cast) Erato 0630-17870-2-excerpts w/Donald Wilkinson, Lynn Torgove, Ellen Santaniello-The Otare Pit Band-Joel Cohen, music director

Monday, May 20, 2013

Playlist: "Classics" Sunday 19th May 2013

Hans Bakker-"Seeking & Finding-Bakker-Richards" Navona NV 5877-"Sanctus" "Pater Noster I" w/Kuhn Choir-Marek Vorlicek, conductor

Ida Gotkovsky-"Oasis Quartet" Innova 744-"Quatour":“Misterioso,” “Lent” w/Oasis Quartet

Zoltan Kodaly-"Yo-Yo Ma-Solo" Sony Classical SK 64114-Sonata for Solo Cello, op. 8 w/Yo-Yo Ma, cello

Norbert Glanzberg-"Glanzberg: Holocaust Lieder-Trekel/Klajner" MDG 901 1588-6 -"Suite Yiddish" (orchestrated:Frederic Chaslin): "Di Bobe gedenkt ir ershten Bal," "Viglid," "Mitsve Tants" w/Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse-Daniel Klajner, conductor

Fernando Lopes-Graca-"Lopes-Graca:Symphony-Rustic Suite" Naxos 8.572892-"Suite Rustica No. 1" w/Royal Scottish National Orchestra-Alvaro Cassuto, conductor

"Kronos Quartet-Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh" Nonesuch 79804-2-"Music for Piano" w/Ali-Zadeh, piano

"Mood Indigo-Symphonic Music of Erik Lotichius" Navona NV 5913-"Four Songs on American Poetry": "It Really Must Be Nice," "I Like My Body" w/Miranda van Kralingen, soprano-St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra-Vladimir Lande, conductor

Mulo Francel-"Quadro Nuevo-Grand Voyage" Justin Time JTR 8552-2-"Die Reise nach Batumi," "Krim"w/Quadro Nuevo

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Playlist: "The Best of Broadway" Sunday 19th May 2013

 Michael John LaChiusa: music & lyrics-"Giant" (original Off-Broadway cast) Ghostlight Records 8-4471-excerpts w/ Brian D'Arcy James, Michele Pawk, PJ Griffith, Kate Baldwin, Doreen Montalvo, John Dossett, Mackenzie Mauzy, Miguel Cervantes, Jon Fletcher, Natalie Cortez, Katie Thompson-Chris Fenwick, music director 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Playlist: "Classics" Sunday 12th May 2013

"Bernard Peiffer-Modern Jazz for People Who Like Original Music" Laurie LP LLP 1006-"Rondo" w/ Jerry Segal, dms-Gus Nemeth, bass

Friedrich Gulda: pianist, composer-"From Vienna With Jazz" Columbia LP CL 2251-"This Veiled Old Land" w/Tubby Hayes, fl & ts-Heinz Bigler, cl & as-Idrees Sulieman, tp-Pierre Cavalli, g

"Jan Hammer/The First Seven Days" Nemperor LP NE 432-"The Sixth Day-The People" w/Steve Kindler, violin

Harold Shapero-"Modern Jazz Concert-Orchestra conducted by Gunther Schuller and George Russell" Columbia LP WL 127-"On Green Mountain (Chaconne After Monteverdi)" w/Art Farmer, tp-Bob DiDomenica, fl-John La Porta, ts-Jimmy Knepper, tb-Barry Galbraith,g

"Joe Burgstaller-License to Thrill" Summit DCD-600-"Within,""Lullaby"-w/Benjamn Herrington, tb-Julian Gargiulo, Hector Martignon, pianos

"Chuck Owen & The Jazz Surge-River Runs" Summit MAA 1044-"Bound Away" w/Jack Wilkins, ts-LaRue Nickelkson, g-Rob Thomas,violin-Owen conducting

"Don Shirley Plays Birdland Lullabies" Cadence LP CLP 3035-"Lullaby of Birdland"- "Body and Soul" w/Richard Davis, Jim Bond, Kenneth Fricker, basses

"Sauter-Finegan Orchestra-Concert Jazz" RCA LP LPM 1051-"The Land Between" w/Nick Travis, tpt

Gerry Mulligan: baritone sax, composer-"Mulligan-Symphonic Dreams" Pro Acoustics CDP 703-"Entente for Baritone Sax and Orchestra" w/Mulligan, soloist-Houston Symphony-Erich Kunzel, conductor

Playlist: "The Best of Broadway" Sunday 12th May 2013

Charles Strouse: music & Martin Charnin: lyrics-"Annie Warbucks" (original off-Broadway cast) Broadway Angel CDQ 7243 5 55040 2 9-excerpts w/ Alene Robertson, Kathryn Zaremba, Harve Presnell. Margeurite Macintyre, Raymond Thorne-Keith Levenson, music director

Betty Comden and Adolph Green: lyrics & Larry Grossman: music-"A Doll's Life" (original Broadway cast) Bay Cities cassette 3031-excerpts w/George Hearn, Betsy Joslyn, Peter Gallagher, Edmund Lyndeck-Paul Gemignani, music director

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Theatre review: "Abigail/1702" at City Theatre

City Theatre is offering a quite recent play, one which premiered earlier this year in Cincinnati. It’s Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Abigail/1702 which deliberately spins off and into Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. It speculates what might have happened to one of the prime sources of evil in Miller’s tale, Abigail Williams.Her accusations spurred famed real-life witchcraft trials and executions in 17th Century Salem Massachusetts. Abigail was said to have trafficked with the Devil.

Certainly such a story carries with it sinister shadows and suggestions of dark doings but this script takes considerable time to develop them, at first in meandering exposition as Abigail talks about herself, and later, at great length, detailing horrible events before she arrived in Salem. A minor plot situation is set up, a romance. That element vanishes as the later part of the play follows a new path with interesting revelations and permutations. There, actor John Feltch makes it memorable in a compelling portrayal of the Devil, full of style and personality. On the other hand, especially by contrast, Diane Davis in the major role of Abigail stays a colorless, hollow figure.
I suppose you could infer that this 10 years- later version of drably dressed Abigail, having been drained of her previous venom, has become tame. Yet, Aguirre-Sacasa posits her as full of remorse and sorrow, trying to atone by doing good works. In her new life, with a new name, she has become a devoutly religious healer doing her best to remain virtuous. Davis conveys none of the potential therein, as if relying on her words to say it all, words which, in her case, she often delivers in unvarying cadences blurring meaning rather than clarifying it. And, on opening night, she seemed more often propelled by intensity and volume than by something complex going on inside.

As for the rest of the plot essentials, Abigail heals plague-infected young sailor John Brown who falls in love with her. And she cares about a local boy named Thomas. Finally the fascinating essence of something dramatic happens when the Devil comes calling.
Likewise referring to the legendary past, Reverend Parris appears. In Miller’s play as in real life, Parris bore some responsibility for the persecutions and punishments during the witch trials. Here, 10 years later, he newly laments his responsibility. In this role too actor Feltch comes across with substance.

Aguirre-Sacasa has written dialogue akin to Miller’s in types of speech suggesting the period. He goes over much old ground of what happened in The Crucible, instead of exploring new territory, coming up with story-telling rather than character study.
Tony Ferrieri has created a remarkably imaginative set suggesting ghosts of trees.  And, effectively adding to the atmosphere, Eric Shimelonis has written some good period-implying music. Tracy Brigden directed, keeping the play moving well.

FYI: The only local actors are two pre-teen brothers alternating in the small role of Thomas.
Clearly the play still needs work. Having a more convincing, more definitive performance of  the title character might help.

Abigail/1702 continues through May 26th at City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, South Side-412/ 431-CITY (2489) or

Monday, May 6, 2013

Playlist: "Classics" Sunday, 5th May 2013

John Williams-"Superman: The Movie" soundtrack score Warner Bros. 3257-2-excerpts w/Williams conducting

"Alex North's 2001-Jerry Goldsmith-The National Philharmonic Orchestra" Varese Sarabande VSD 5400-excerpts w/Goldsmith, National Philharmonic

Bernard Herrmann-"Herrmann: The Concert Suites" Masters Film Music 2005-"The Day The Earth Stood Still”:“Outerspace"-“Gort" w/Herrmann conducting London Philharmonic

David Arnold-"The Chronicles of Narnia:The Voyage of the Dawn Treader-Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" Sony 88697811422-excerpts, Nicholas Dodd, conductor

Bohuslav Martinu-"Martinu: La revue de cuisine" Naxos 8.572485-"La Revue de Cuisine": excerpts w/ Holst Sinfonietta-Klaus Simon, conductor

"Efrain Amaya-Phantasmagorilla? No! Phantasmagoria" Troy 1075-excerpts w/Kimberley Steinhauer, Sean Donaldson, Amadis Amaya, Annie Rago, Charlene Canty, singers-The Pont Chamber Orchestra-Amaya conducting

Brian Easdale -"The Red Shoes: Classic British Film Music" Silva America SSD 1011-"The Red Shoes Ballet" w/Philharmonia Orchestra-Kenneth Alwyn, conductor

Elinor Armer: composer & Ursula K. Le Guin: words-"Uses of Music in Uttermost Parts: Elinor Armer-Ursula K. Le Guin" Koch 3-7331-2 Y6x2-"The Seasons of Oling" w/Le Guin, narrator-Don Erlich, viola-Bonnie Hampton, cello-Lois Brandwynne,piano- David Dieni, percussion

Sir Arthur Bliss-"Bliss-Miracle in the Gorbals" Naxos 8.553698-"Miracle in the Gorbals" (ballet):excerpts w/ Queensland Symphony Orchestra-Christopher Lyndon-Gee, conductor

Playlist: "The Best of Broadway" Sunday, 5th May 2013

Rupert Holmes: music & lyrics-"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" (original Broadway cast) Verve/Decca B0017483-02-excerpts w/ Patti Cohenour, Jana Schneider, Judy Kuhn, Donna Murphy, Betty Buckley, Joe Grifasi, John Herrera, Howard McGillan, Cleo Laine-Michael Starobin, music director 

Benj Pasek & Justin Paul: music & lyrics-"A Christmas Story-The Musical" (2010/11 studio cast) Masterworks Broadway 88725 45981 2-excerpts w/ John Bolton, Clarke Hallum, Dan Lauria, Liz Callaway, Matthew Lewis-Ian Eisendrath, music director

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Theatre review: "Without Ruth" at Off the Wall Productions

Off the Wall Productions is now less far off the Pittsburgh grid than it was in Washington Pa. And this proximity has become really welcome. As its first season ends in Carnegie, Off the Wall is getting an ever-increasing audience with many seats filled with enthusiastic supporters. Such thriving benefits us all. Also the company gives us another close chance to witness excellent performances by local actors, as if Off The Wall is developing something like a repertory company.

Off The Wall still takes chances with the kind of plays for which it has been known, most often those of limited fame, frequently dark or quirky, another reason to gravitate there, out of the mainstream in content as well as geographically.

The current offering seems characteristic, a new play titled Without Ruth by company co-founder Virginia Wall Gruenert. It’s about mothers dying and how their daughters try to deal with that, something you’d least expect especially now around Mother’s Day. But don’t expect somber sorrow, wailing and unceasing grief. Witness a dynamic, versatile and sassy performance by Linda Haston as Ruth, one of the mothers. Haston owns the stage, charming you at every turn, singing with soul, even capably knocking out some tap dancing footwork. And Gruenert and Haston’s characterization fits the subject. Ruth has always dominated the life of her actress daughter Linda who, in this case, Haston likewise expertly portrays.  
The story line stays simple, matching the deliberately short length of about an hour and a half. But the play itself doesn’t go very far with its subject. Gruenert has not made this a reflection on death nor on the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. She mostly shows the two daughters struggling with their feelings not by what they say and think and more by what they do. And she misses the chance to have those two daughters bond and share their feelings. There is a potential here to emotionally connect us to the realization that mothers are just as human as their children and to come to terms with that in acceptance and love.

Ruth is nearing the end of life; Linda wants her own to be more her own. Linda seeks help and advice from Norah, a case worker in a social services agency dealing with aging. As it turns out, Norah’s mother has terminal cancer and wants help to kill herself. This parallel sticks to the subject but feels forced.  We never see Norah’s mother and learn nothing about her other than about her condition, a major contrast to how much we see and learn about Ruth, as if Gruenert is trying to cost-control the staging and production, by limiting the roles and the complexities of more extensive development. This turns out mostly to be a character study. That character is Ruth.
Haston’s performance as Ruth remains full of vitality and dimension, the certain virtue to this experience,underscoring Gruenert’s major thrust. Adrienne Wehr portrays Norah, bringing a lot of emotional dimension to an insufficiently-defined character. And Diana Ifft capably appears as two more people. 

Director F.J. Hartland keeps most of this definitively moving well, although having saxophonist/clarinetist Rob Stull’s on-stage-playing too often reflective, out of keeping with the fact that that every time Ruth appears the play comes across as life-affirming.  
Certainly Gruenert admirably calls for celebration rather than mourning, a good choice; death is inevitable no matter what we do or say in the finite time we’re given to love one another.

Without Ruth continues through May 18th at Off The Wall Theater, 25 W. Main Street, Carnegie, PA. Tickets and info: Showclix: 1-888-71-TICKETS(1-888 718 4253)  or at Off the Wall: 724/ 873-3576