A list of music reviews I wrote for the music of 1946.
1. Micheal Tippett: String Quartet No. 3 (9/10)
Two me, there’s a clear break between the first two quartets and this quartet. The early quartets are significantly “smoother” for lack of a better word (I don’t know how to express this using musical language). Here it’s all staccato (well, a lot of the time) and aggressive. I like it significantly more than the second.
2. Arthur Honegger: Symphony No. 3 ‘Symphonie Liturgique’ (8/10)
The third symphony begins with a loud, fast movement that has been aptly described as “stormy.” It’s the kind of thing that makes me think maybe I was wrong to not invest more time in Honegger. Sure, it’s rather traditional for the era, but it’s the kind of thing I like. The second movement is considerably softer, more lyrical, though not exactly as somber as I might have expected (though it gets considerably more somber as it gets louder). The third movement is again rather ominous, but it ends with a hopeful note. The whole thing does manage to conjure a feeling of the world at war, so I guess it does what it sets out to do. It’s still pretty much late Romantic stuff written half a century too late (ish), but I can’t help but like it.
3. Memphis Minnie: “Shout the Boogie” (8/10)
A full band performance, this is one of the most playful things I’ve heard of Minnie’s. She’s a little less dominant than on some of her other recordings, and that could be because of the piano solo or the backing vocals. It’s fun, anyway.
4. Paul Hindemith: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d: A Requiem for Those We Love (7/10)
There is a tendency among us humans to celebrate things which in turn celebrate the things we think are important. I guess it’s only natural.
This requiem is a Walt Whitman poem set to music for the death of Roosevelt. It’s conducted here by its commissioner so, in theory, this is how it’s supposed to sound.
I appreciate the sentiments and I appreciate taste. Though I have never mourned a world leader – and cannot imagine doing so – I understand why many would mourn FDR. And I recognize the merit in commissioning music for his death, especially in commissioning music from a German expat.
But this is more of Hindemith’s strict neo-classicism – though you could call this a more “American” version of that neo-classicism – that I struggle with so much. And though it’s undoubtedly very pretty, it’s conservative and I like my music mourning loss to be very different than that.
5. Billie Holiday: “Good Morning Heartache” (7/10)
This is a particularly clever ballad with orchestration that mixes jazz influences with more traditional pop orchestration.