Saturday, 28 November 2015

かぐや姫の物語

a film by Isao Takahata

When I was about ten, I came across a book of Japanese folk tales (in Russian translation) and read it from back to back in a few days. I was fascinated by them, not least because they were very different from the “classic” fairy tales I was accustomed to. Most of the Japanese tales were dark (if not menacing), refreshingly moral-free, and had no obligatory happy ends. Now Timur bought another Studio Ghibli DVD and we watched it over two evenings.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which is based on the folk tale, is a work of beauty. I don’t know how exactly this animation is made but it looks like watercolour, pastel, charcoal... It has got a lot of humorous moments. Maybe because of that, against my better judgement, I was hoping for a happy end. Well it is not very happy, unless going to the moon with Buddha and his entourage is your idea of happiness. Absolutely worth watching, although I still prefer My Neighbors the Yamadas.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Scandinavian Nights (Live in Stockholm 1970)

by Deep Purple

For Deep Purple Mark II, 1970 was truly an annus mirabilis. Not only because of In Rock — wait a minute, I’ve got a 25th anniversary edition CD which is 20 years old already; shall we expect a 50th anniversary edition in five years’ time? — but also because of Jon Lord’s Gemini Suite Live and Jesus Christ Superstar superstarring Ian Gillan. I was practically growing up on this latter album.

What about Scandinavian Nights? It was recorded in Stockholm exactly 45 years ago, on 12 November 1970, so it’s not clear why “nights” in plural. But trust me, behind its rather uninspired cover art you’ll find simply the best live recording of this, or any, Purple line-ups. Sure enough, there are Child in Time, Into the Fire and Speed King (in my view, vastly superior to their respective studio versions) as well as half-an-hour monsters of Wring That Neck and Mandrake Root. But also, please, don’t forget the cover of Paint It Black.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Nocturno

by Pascal Blanchet

I hesitate to call this book a graphic novel, but then, what else is it? In any case it does not look like one, with one panel per page spread or per page, often with blank black verso (or recto). The Cole Porter’s song In the Still of the Night provides the obvious background for the story, or stories. But there’s more. In the end of the book you can find a discography, which I took the liberty to reproduce here. It also prompted me to do a bit of research (if you can call a web search that). I could not find any info on the singer called Anne Scheffer outside of the Blanchet’s book context. I was able to identify all the tracks in this discography and supplementary material apart from those featuring Scheffer, even though the orchestras she supposedly recorded with did exist and indeed had those songs in their repertoires. So... who exactly is this mysterious “queen of the radio waves”? Doris Day, Jo Stafford, Margaret Whiting? I may never learn, but I’ve discovered for myself a new artist as well as music of André Mathieu.

Discography

  1. In the Still of the Night — Anne Scheffer with Paul Weston & his Orchestra, 1948
  2. Love on a Greyhound Bus — Kay Kyser & his Orchestra, 1946
  3. Street Scene — Harry James & his Orchestra, 1955
  4. Lonely Woman — June Christy with Stan Kenton, 1955
  5. A Tree in the Meadow — Anne Scheffer with Frank De Vol Orchestra, 1948
  6. City of Glass, Second Movement — Stan Kenton & his Orchestra, 1951
  7. Dancing in the Dark — Jo Stafford with Paul Weston & his Orchestra, 1957
  8. Nature Boy — Frank Sinatra with The Jeff Alexander Choir, 1948
  9. It’s Magic — Anne Scheffer, Orchestra under the direction of George Siravo, 1948
  10. André Mathieu, Concertino n° 2, Opus 13, II. Andante — Matthias Bamert & London Mozart Players
  11. Haunted Heart — Jo Stafford with Paul Weston & his Orchestra, 1948
  12. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child — Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians, 1957
  13. Antonín Dvořák, Symphonie n° 9 en mi mineur, II. Largo — Ferenc Fricsay, Berliner Philharmoniker
  14. That Lucky Old Sun — Frankie Laine with Harry Geller Orchestra, 1949
  15. In the Still of the Night (from Silk Stockings), M-G-M Orchestra

Supplementary Material

  1. Ennui — Stan Kenton & his Orchestra, 1951
  2. The Night We Called it a Day — Frank Sinatra, Axel Stordahl Orchestra, 1947
  3. Free — Helen Humes & The Contrastors, 1948
  4. Again — Doris Day, 1949
  5. Bess, You Is My Woman Now — Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Isaac Stern
  6. Long Ago and Far Away — Jo Stafford, 1944
  7. Lazy Afternoon — June Christy, Orchestra conducted by Pete Rugolo, 1957