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Listening Group #? for 12/21/12 (Oh Come All Ye Faithful; Leonard Bernstein/The New York Philharmonic Orchestra & The Mormon Tabernacle Choir)

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Showing 1-17 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 21, 2012 3:23:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 21, 2012 3:38:03 PM PST
Joe Anthony says:
I guess it's my turn, and just in time for the end of the world and the holiday season; and so along that line, I'd like to base my selection upon something in line with Christmas.

I like to think of this particular recording as the most triumphant and jubilant recording of "O Come All Ye Faithful". In a way it's a very "American" rendition, where everything is done in a big way; over-the-top; with bells; the big Mormon Tabernacle Choir from out west; the big New York Philharmonic Orchestra from back east; and a conductor, Leonard Bernstein, whose American sense of optimism and enthusiasm (and flashy Broadway sensibility), seems to transform the old English cradle hymn into an American victory march.

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 4:28:19 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2012 4:28:31 AM PST
Mandryka says:
Very funny. What a load of bollox!

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 4:38:02 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2012 4:41:19 AM PST
Joe Anthony says:
It's all good.

I made Mandyka feel amused and she taught me a new word.

Merry Christmas, Mandryka.

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 5:43:18 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2012 5:58:04 AM PST
Mandryka says:
Happy Christmas to you too.

I want a punk version if this. Lou Reed or Sid Vicious maybe. But youtube came up with nothing, just kitsch and bombast. Even Pavarotti in the 1970s is bolloxed up by the orchestral acompaniment. Maybe this song is irredeemably phony and vulgar.

I can't believe I taught you a word. Have you never heard this classic CD

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (US Version)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2012 6:00:14 AM PST
Joe Anthony says:
Mandryka says:

"But youtube came up with nothing, just kitsch and bombast."

I say:

Well, I did say that it was a very "American" version.

I see that your in London. Have you ever been to Christmas in America?

There's very little that's solemn about the "American Christmas" where everything is done in a big way. Indeed, you should see the Christmas lights that one of my neighbors has around his house; and not white lights; colorful, clashing lights, blinking on and off.

Albeit, some of like a little "kitch" and "bombast"; now and then.

Come on, it's Leonard Bernstein with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; what else would you expect?

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 6:27:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2012 6:32:00 AM PST
Mandryka says:
I don't dislike all american kitsch, but I really hate Leonard Bernstein's variety of it because it's so glitzy and opulent. Jeff Koons is better.

In Britain there's a very strong tradition of kitsch in art, headed up by Gilbert and George, who I like very much. Their brand of kisch is shot though with biting social and sexual commentary, and it's not at all luxurious and glitzy.

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 7:42:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2012 7:44:08 AM PST
scarecrow says:
I agree you wanna do Kitsch,(?) (!) why not go all the way, Yeah Jeff Koons,, , ,and or New Age composers, , , ''sheep music''; Get Yanni in on it---or Psy-- really- Lenny has a conscious, so he can never go over to the other side 100%. . .
But this American Festive music with the Mormons makes me wanna have at least 5 wives. . .Why not participate in all the freedoms of Americana . . . we know our Senators do all the time. . .

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 8:22:43 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2012 11:57:13 AM PST
Joe Anthony says:

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has an element of plasticity about it; in that the arrangements often seem too polished and too contrived; too "conservative" in the musical, as well as, in the political sense.

Even so, with the seemingly unlikely union that they enjoy here with maestro Bernstein; they seem to exhibit a more "natural" energy; kitsch, bombast, and all.

As you say, "Lenny had a conscious", and while he seems to have been somewhat pompous and arrogant; I do think that there is a sincerity and an integrity to everything he did.

"The Joy of Christmas" featuring Leonard Bernstein, the New York Philharmonic and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is still my favorite holiday music.

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 8:57:12 AM PST
MacDoom says:
I did it! I listened to all of it without running away - but only just. I put it on when my wife was in the room, and I didn't say anything. Within a minute, she was in stitches.

Of course it's kitsch. But it's quality, precision kitsch. No doubt LB got exactly what he wanted. He was like that.

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 3:04:49 PM PST
KenOC says:
For me, this performance kind of misses the whole point of Christmas carols. I listened to the first 2/3...the MTC sang well, of course.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 4:18:50 AM PST
Joe Anthony says:
I found out that this recording was made in 1963 and was recorded in Salt Lake City. It was arranged by a guy by the name of "Dr. Leroy Robertson", who, according to Wikipedia was the composer of several Mormon hymns.

The recording, I think, comes right around Bernstein heyday as a conductor, composer, and media personality; back when he was with Columbia records and recording mostly with the New York Philharmonic and doing things in a big way. IMO almost every Bernstein recording from that era is robust and full.

Later, when LB switched over to DG and started recording with different orchestras; his recordings seemed to more of a mixed bag.

Lenny's Christmas record with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir came right in the middle of when he was doing his first Mahler cycle.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 5:01:33 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 24, 2012 5:02:50 AM PST
scarecrow says:
the real question, Why is the experience of Kitsch so important?? as an integral part of your life, and if so Why?

it's like eating something that is not good for you. We do it constantly, and daily---.... .like sugar and fat, saturated fats, chlolestoral producing fats.

the brain needs food as well, and all this music seems like cotton-candy, flufff and snap for the brain. . . Go figure!

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 6:09:32 AM PST
Neaklaus says:
I like to think of it as "comfort" food for the brain. Yes it may not be good for you, but in its own way it helps you.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 7:11:17 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 24, 2012 7:26:28 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 8:28:00 AM PST
Mandryka says:
There's a great bit in the wikipedia article on Kitsch from Milan Kundera which starts to help me see why I dislike Bernstein's variety of it:

"Other theorists over time also have linked kitsch to totalitarianism and its propaganda. The Czech writer Milan Kundera, in his book The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), defined it as "the absolute denial of ordure". He wrote that kitsch functions by excluding from view everything that humans find difficult with which to come to terms, offering instead a sanitized view of the world, in which "all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions"."

Is this what Joe Anthony meant by "American sense of optimism"?

Jeff Koons variety of Kitsch seems to pose some very fundamental questions:

That image from Koons has, for some reason, reminded me of some scenes in Mulholland Drive.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 9:50:31 AM PST
Joe Anthony says:
Mandryka says:

"Is this what Joe Anthony meant by "American sense of optimism"?"

I say:

Perhaps, it's what I meant.

Have you ever been to Disneyworld?

Disneyworld (Florida, USA) has got to be the most "American" place on earth; probably why Disney theme parks/resorts don't work as well on foreign soil.

Posted on Dec 25, 2012 4:44:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 25, 2012 4:45:39 PM PST
Yi-Peng says:
Only the King's College approach matters to a carol like this. Understated but it becomes grand during the David Willcocks descant verse. I can't help saying RULE BRITANNIA when it comes to performances of carols.
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  7
Total posts:  17
Initial post:  Dec 21, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 25, 2012

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