Saturday, 31 July 2010

Two for Mahler

With thanks to 'Schopenhauerian' on the BBC Message Boards, who posted the link, and acknowledgment to Gavin Plumley over at Entartete Musik, who I belatedly recalled put up the same YouTube song some time back and who's another almost as much in love with Sondheim as he is with Mahler, let's hear it for Lainey and yet another variation on her immortal toast from Sondheim's Company. 'Two for Mahler' is acknowledgement that at the end of this post you can hear another interpretation proposing 'one for Mahler', Sondheim's bottoms-up to another anniversary boy. In her terrific one-woman show, the divine Stritch told us that at the time of the Company premiere, she thought 'a piece of Mahler's' might be a slice of cake you went round to Mahler's Broadway deli to consume after 'a matinee, a Pinter play'.

This, anyway, in keen anticipation of tonight's Proms birthday tribute including Bryn Terfel, Maria Friedman and Dame Judi's immortal rendition of 'Send in the Clowns'. When I saw her play Desiree in A Little Night Music at the National, it struck me how you don't really need a great singing voice for this - Glynis Johns didn't have one either - but you do need an impeccable sense of musical timing and/or freedom (which Sian Philips as the matriarch didn't seem to have). Would so love to have seen Angela Lansbury on Broadway - again, the nuancing seemed wonderful from what I've heard. Do listen to this remarkable octogenarian talking to Mark Coles on the BBC World Service's Strand programme. Now that she's left the run, who's going to take her part but - Elaine Stritch. Bernadette Peters will now play the Zeta Jones role. Worth a trip? Perhaps, if only I didn't find Sondheim's second act a let-down after the bewitching Bergman original.

Talking of veterans, if only they'd bring in Cleo Laine tonight to sing 'I'm Still Here'. Her performance of it on the vintage 'Cleo sings Sondheim' CD, one of our most played, is up there with Elaine's. One Dame who wouldn't be singing, but might do a nice line in presentation, is the recently-maligned Julie Andrews. What a knockout performer she was, though, right up to the catastrophe. If you doubt it, watch '(Not) Getting Married Today' from the Sondheim anthology Putting it Together. The picture quality ain't great, to put it mildly, but the sound is just fine.

In the meantime, let's end with another consummate performer giving a different take on 'The Ladies who Lunch', Carol Burnett. Anyone see the 'spiders' episode of the Larry Sanders Show in which she tells her host she saw his balls? Quite apart from that, I reckon it was the funniest episode ever. Anyway, that's not on YouTube, I guess for copyright reasons. Here's Carol. I need a bit of cheering up* anyway after the farrago of last night's Zandonai car crash at Opera Holland Park.

Sunday press: you can read the Arts Desk review of last night's semi-spectacular here. Plus another of Chris Christodoulou's photos since I can. No need, I guess, to signal the stars?

* Did I say cheering up? Watched it through to the end and it's wrist-slitting time...


Willym said...

I saw both the original productions of A Little Night Music and Company. You are right Glynis John's didn't have much of a voice but god did she deliver the emotions of that song! Company was the road show that was on its way to London with much of the original cast including Ms Stritch and I saw it 3 times in 2 weeks. The third time on a freebee from the wife of the theatre owner who loved it and was enraged that Toronto audiences were walking out on it.

I hadn't heard the Burnett version - my god its searing with that sense of irony that Strich brings to it. But just as valid.

David said...

Gosh, Willy, you are history! But I guess I am too, rather less so, having been twice to the London premiere run of Sweeney Todd and convinced it was a masterpiece from the first. Totally addicted in my first year at university, and even Britten operas couldn't quite knock it off the pedestal.

Willym said...

I really do need a copy editor - I meant to say "its searing without that sense of irony that Strich brings to it"

I guess I could mention that I saw the original Sweeney Todd with Lansbury and Cariou but that would make me really old. Or how about Ethel Mermann in Annie Get Your Gun - okay that was the revival that they were going to retitle Granny Get Your Gun.

David said...

Ethel! Now that's something. That Broadway Sweeney is now available on DVD - a ridiculous £3 here. Remember it at the time - the camerawork was pretty inept.