Tuesday, April 18, 2017

An Unlikely Pairing

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

This week’s Tuesday Blog melds two of our ongoing series: Vinyl’s Revenge and Cover 2 Cover in an exploration of music adapted to the Synthesizer and what I consider to be shamelessly exploiting a phenomenon of the day.

Released in 1979, the movie 10 starring Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews and (introducing) Bo Derek told the tale of a Hollywood lyricist going through a mid-life crisis who becomes infatuated with a sexy, newly married woman. The film brought renewed fame to the Boléro by Maurice Ravel. Use of the piece during the love scene between Derek and Moore's characters, with Jenny describing it as "the most descriptive sex music ever written", resulted in massive sales of the work.

(Because Ravel's music was still under copyright at the time, sales generated his estate an estimated $1 million in royalties and briefly made him the best-selling classical composer—over 40 years after his death.)

Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to sell some records, Columbia re-issued its fantastic version of Boléro by Leonard Bernstein and the Orchestre National de France. As a companion filler piece, it also re-issued a less traveled version of the piece, performed on the Moog Synthesizer. This disc, acquired during my years in the Columbia Record and Tape Club covers the “Vinyl’s Revenge” portion of today’s post.

The Boléro performance was originally released as part of a 1972 “experimental” album produced and realized by a pair of staff Columbia Classical Music producers (associated in the 1970's and 80’s with the successful New York Philharmonic recordings with Zubin Mehta among others) titled “Everything You Always Wanted To Hear On The Moog (But Were Afraid To Ask For)”, a not-too-subtle reference to a contemporary sex-help best-seller (and Woody Allen feature film) with a similarly concocted title. This album tried (with limited success) to ride the coat tails of other “electronic” albums, such as Switched on Bach and Oxygène.

The tracks of the album all had “Spanish roots” – works by Chabrier, Ravel, Bizet and Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.

Happy Listening!

Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
España, rhapsody for orchestra (1883)

Ernesto LECUONA (1896-1963)
“Malaguena”, from Andalucía, suite for piano (ca. 1927)

Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Selections from Act I of Carmen (1873-74)

(Prelude To Act I; Habanera; Les Toréadors)

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Boléro, MR 81 (*)

Andrew Kazdin, Thomas Z. Shepard at the Moog Synthesizer
Columbia Masterworks ‎– M 30383
See – https://www.discogs.com/Mighty-Moog-...r/release/7859
(*) This track is also Side B of MX 35860, see below

Maurice RAVEL
Boléro, MR 81

Orchestre National de France
Leonard Bernstein, conducting

CBS Masterworks ‎– MX 35860
See - https://www.discogs.com/Leonard-Bern...elease/2392150