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MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND: DEC 4 (article first published : 2007-12-23)

With the Silly Season fast approaching, Bev dwells on some ubiquitous seasonal music (albeit, in this case, of an exceptionally high standard), then gets REALLY serious about there being hope for the youth of today! …

Wow! is all I can say about Josh Groban’s long-awaited new release, nicely timed for THE perfect Christmas gift. Backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and with production by his mentor, musical maestro David Foster, and with input from legendary Humberto Gatica, who he thanks for making all of us sound better than ever, this has to be THE classiest and most professional Yuletime album of all time, for all ages!

Noel includes two duets, one with Brian McKnight, the other with Faith Hill, and on Ave Maria he’s joined by the magnificent Magdalene College Choir from Oxford. This is one talented 26-year-old whose lucky break has undoubtedly changed his life forever and I salute him for introducing a better class of music with great appeal for young people all around the world.

The sentiment that there is indeed hope for the youth of today (and tomorrow) is also evidenced by the fact that this year’s winner of Britain’s Got Talent was awarded that honour for a CLASSICAL piece, his rendition of Nessun Dorma in the finals leaving judges of the likes of Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul literally open-mouthed in awe! Paul Potts is his name and his release is aptly named One Chance. My personal favourite on the album is his truly beautiful rendition of Cavatina from the soundtrack of The Deerhunter, though sadly there are only nine other tracks. However, let me make this comment… Although Rossini is said to have once remarked about Wagner’s operas that they contain some splendid quarter-hours (!) I would venture to say that, though you only get 41 minutes and 41 seconds’ worth of music on Paul Potts’ CD, it is ALL pure enjoyment! I’m told by the manager of Classic FM in Johannesburg that it’s made unbelievably swift progress up the SA charts and, although I’d term many of the tracks well-loved chestnuts, the marvellous thing about musical performance is that the interpretation of a piece changes with every conductor, every instrumentalist and every singer, thus there’s something fresh and highly appealing in each piece here.

Katie Melua, too, has timed the release of her third album to please her fans this Festive Season, and although one reviewer feels it’s not as good as her debut CD, or her Piece by Piece from 2005, I beg to differ. I do agree that her first album was possibly her best to date, however there are SEVERAL excellent tracks onPictures. Certainly, If I Were a Sailboat (which we’ve seen as a music video on television) is sweetly memorable but my personal favourite is Track No 1, Mary Pickford.Written by her producer/arranger, Mike Batt, it’s a clever play on words that tells the story about Pickford’s romance with legendary actor Douglas Fairbanks, and how subsequently Charlie Chaplin, he was invited, when these artists became united (i.e. United Artists!) This pretty, personable young lass really delivers poetry to music in a most unique style – perhaps not to EVERYone’s taste, but most definitely to mine! Listening to her mellifluous voice always puts me in mind of this (anonymous) quote:

Music speaks what cannot be expressed;? It soothes the mind and gives it rest:/ It heals the heart and makes it whole;/ Flows from heaven to the soul.

During the month of November, SABC3 brought us, in their 10 pm Sunday slot, two consecutive one-hour programmes featuring the artist known as Pink. The 27 costume changes, drawn from her 62-city European tour, must have delighted younger viewers - but I fear she was just TOO noisy for these 60-year old ears, even though I try earnestly to appreciate ALL musical genres. A pity, because I find her LYRICS quite profound. I particularly appreciated the number where she is so evidently attempting to send a message as she examines herself in a mirror, obviously trying to relate to young girls and their low self-esteem when they WILL bow to peer pressure and compare themselves to air-brushed celebs, so I salute her for that effort, and also some previous releases which have contained pretty poignant words – but she’s definitely only watchable if you enjoy rock, swagger and soul.

And, speaking of celebs, Paris Hilton receives a great deal of attention from the paparazzi for her antics and (so-called) style - and occasionally also as a singer - but here’s a new take on the Pop Princess… In a study on mice and their stress levels, it was noted that there was less wound-licking when a scientist was present so, in order to determine whether the sight (or smell) of a human was to blame, the mice were shown a cardboard cutout of the young lady and - would you believe this? – with the fake Paris in their line of sight the male mice, though not the females, spent less time licking their wounds! This evidently resulted in the scientists claiming the research indicates that the sexes react differently to stress - and this, in turn, resulted in a headline reading Paris Relieves Pain (!)

I also read in TIME magazine that it would appear that the famous painting of The Last Supper may hide a hidden tune and that the true Da Vinci code may NOT lie with Dan Brown! For, according to an Italian computer technician named Giovanni Pala, who is also a musician, the grand master stored a secret composition in this particular masterpiece. Pala alleges that a 40-second requiem lies hidden beneath the brushstrokes and says that, by drawing a five-line musical staff across the canvas, he noticed that the loaves of breads, and the hands of Jesus and the Apostles, form musical notes! He also comments that, just like ALL of Da Vinci’s greatest secrets, the score reads from right to left! (Forgive the intentional pun but this certainly provides food for thought, wouldn’t you say?)

In conclusion, I did make mention last time round of someone new on the musical scene in the form of a promising-sounding soprano by the name of Natasha Marsh, and I was promised a copy of her album (simply titled Amour) by Classic FM - but it has failed to materialise via the SA postal system to date so I’m afraid I can’t review it just yet. However, from catching various Side-Track tantalisers, she sounds highly promising (AND she’s gorgeous to boot!) and I shall do my best to bring you further information on this album next time round!

Till then, may I wish you Happy Holidays and a joyful, peaceful, and enjoyably MUSICAL Festive Season!- Bev Pulé (December 4, 2007)




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