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...