People at Samizdata have gotten to discussing Bondiana–James Bondiana. The talk has turned to music. I’ve spent the whole afternoon, including time at the Library (a.k.a. YouTube) doing highly necessary research, writing a comment. But it would’ve hijacked the discussion completely, so you lucky Kitty Kounters are going to get it instead. (It is possible that some of this is a bit tongue-in-cheek. But which parts? And how deep is that cheek, anyway?)
The issue arises because people are (snark!) wasting time discussing which of the entirely forgettable “Bond Songs” is “best.” Hmph. :
In my earlier remark at Samizdata about the James Bond theme (Kitties: I love it!), I meant the ongoing movie theme music, not any of the “songs.” (Everybody can hate me now, but none of them comes close to the level of, say, the Wagner “Wesendonck Songs.”* Or of “Summertime” when sung “straight” and not tricked up to the point of vandalism–a great rarity, may I say, most vocalists and arrangers seeming to think they’re better composers than Gershwin. *frown* Or “Bali Ha’i” as sung by Muriel Smith in the movie–per Wikipedia, she is not credited. *nother frown*)
Below, the URL for Mr. Barry’s conducting of the Bond Theme as a stage performance. Not so hot–no where near edgy enough: very little “snap” (–or “punch” as dancers might, or might not, say: Think of the Ann Reinking’s “Everything Old is New Again” routine from the movie All That Jazz; Eleanor Powell had it too mostly–no one always has it–but “snap” has to do with sharp emphasis precisely placed on the precisely-correct beat…Kurt Browning had it on the ice after coaching by his wife, ballerina Sonja Rodriguez…. Photographers, the best ones, also recognize “snap” (the technique and artistic goal, not perhaps my term for it!): a small portion of the image brought out (“punched”) for extra attention. Ansel Adams really owes his reputation to his mastery of it–IMO *g*. –Well, combined with his grasp of each of his compositions as a whole.) “Snap” adds edge and power, because it uses ultra-high contrast borne of extreme precision to compel attention. Yet there’s a fine line, because if even slightly overdone it collapses into mere boring mannerism…. That’s why to be effective, Snap requires equal attention to its placement within the work as a whole–it’s the telling and compelling detail in the Big Picture.
The YouTube sound quality here is way too shrill. The bit I remember from the best sound track has a very rich, deep, smooth sound to it–along with the Snap….
Of course, this sort of “piece” is more of a starting idea for a concerto or a rhapsody, rather than a full-blown work of art. It’s still “popular music”–but at its best, light-years better than most. :>)))
Here’s the best example of “snap” that I can think of, off the top of my head. (Forget the images, they’re mostly an unfortunate distraction.) Again not the best sound quality, and the orchestral background particular in the last several seconds is a ghastly error, an attempted gilding of the lily that ends up as a refutation of all the music that’s gone before!, but the rest is perfect. Herb Alpert really did Get It! :>)))) **Applause**
Now there is lagniappe, in the way of what I think to be some purely beautiful music. Miss Schwarzkopf, accompanied by Gerald Moore, singing the first of the Wesendonck Songs…and this is not her best recording of them IMO (she is not always on pitch)…but beautiful even so.
–Next up in that playlist turns out to be Kirsten Flagstad singing “Solveig’s Song”–heh…I sang it myself once upon a time, when there was some talk of a future in opera–although not to Miss Flagstad’s standard! A recording I haven’t heard…glorious.
I leave you with Miss Callas’ rendition of “Pace,” in a perfectly glorious recording. Enjoy! (I listened to a rendition by Renata Tebaldi just before this one…and this one is better. *g*)