| Three albums offer harpsichord and organ renditions of the Goldberg Variations
by Arsenio Orteza Posted 8/16/18, 11:13 am
“It does seem,” wrote the late musicologist Peter Williams of J.S. Bach’s compositional strategies, “to be the nature of the Goldberg [Variations] to inspire a range of hypotheses.”
It also seems to be the nature of the Goldberg Variations to inspire a range of interpretations. Last year, the Italian pianist Beatrice Rana won acclaim for her piano rendition, and, indeed, despite (or maybe because of) Glenn Gould’s landmark recordings of 1955 and 1981, the piano remains the instrument on which the composition is most frequently performed.
Bridges’ sophomore effort begins with “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand,” which sounds enough like his retro Southern-soul debut to placate continuity lovers. With the second song, though (“Bad Bad News”), the album shifts into something else—the Sound of Philadelphia, say, slowed down and reimagined as old jack swing except when it’s sped up to approximate Quincy Jones–era Michael Jackson. And if the lyrics aren’t always deeper than those of Bruno Mars, they have more integrity. The only song with bedroom eyes is called “Mrs.” for a reason.
| Two new albums express Christian belief—if you listen closely
Arsenio Orteza | 8/01/18, 09:50 am
Play the latest albums by the Innocence Mission and Wovenhand’s David Eugene Edwards for someone who doesn’t speak English—someone, in other words, oblivious to what’s being sung—and he’ll probably tell you that the two have little in common.
One of them, after all, is loud, dark, and turbulent; the other quiet, luminous, and peaceful.
The words in the only song that has any are sung by Les McCann and—according to one source—address Donald Trump (antagonistically, of course). Otherwise, the producer Carla Olson keeps the focus off virtue signaling and on Goldberg’s Hammond B3, Joe Sublett’s sax, and the slinky R&B melodies of the covers (including those of Doc Bagby, Milt Bruckner, Johnny and the Hurricanes, and Sil Austin) and Goldberg’s own compositions. Target audience: anyone who thinks that Goldberg’s roots only go back as far as Newport ’65.
| An evening in the stadium with Washington’s beloved national anthem singer
Emily Belz | 7/16/18, 12:41 pm
It was a warm spring day at Nationals Park, where a major league baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees was beginning in a few hours. Batting practice had started, and Nationals star Bryce Harper was hitting home runs.
D.C. Washington had just arrived at the stadium, and yes, that is the name his parents gave him when he was born—in Arkansas. His grandmother wanted his initials to be “D.C.” and so his parents complied. The D.C. stands for Dwight Clyde but the only person who ever calls him Dwight is his wife.
| Blind Boys singer helped shape gospel music
Arsenio Orteza | 7/05/18, 02:14 am
“It’s Done Got Late,” the final track on the powerhouse Clarence Fountain solo album In the Gospel Light, begins with Fountain’s recounting, in preacherly cadences over a swirling organ and a shimmering piano, a time that he found himself at a crossroads.
| New albums are strong examples of art about art
Arsenio Orteza | 6/14/18, 12:40 pm
It’s said that art imitates life and that life imitates art.
But life has also been known to imitate life. And sometimes art imitates art.
Consider, for example, Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
Mussorgsky based most of the suite’s movements on paintings and sketches by his late friend Viktor Hartmann. That one was a costume design for a ballet based on a short story actually makes Mussorgsky’s corresponding piece (“Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks”) an example of art imitating art imitating art imitating art.