No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Michael Barrett

Summer is usually the time when love has the greatest opportunity to bloom. The soft evenings, the lingering twilight, the wonderful cuisine—fresh produce of every kind—all add up to an awakening of the senses. The collection of German folk poetry Des Knaben Wunderhorn is full of parables about war, love, betrayal, and fidelity. “Ablösung Im Sommer” is one of these.




 |  Michael Barrett

Summer is when we get the most sun. Most of us brown up a little, even without getting to the beach. The tomatoes and peaches are coming in, the breezes are warm, the city streets are less crowded, and life is full of pleasures we just can’t experience when it’s cold. To remind us how to hang on to that feeling throughout the year, here is Esperanza Spalding singing (and playing her bass in) “The Sunny Side of the Street”. She’s an amazingly gifted artist, and she’s got all the high notes and all the low notes in her arsenal.




 |  Michael Barrett

Summer is full of nature, and it’s the time we usually get out into it, and let our senses partake of the beauty, inhale smells, and feel warm breezes on our skin. Then there is the plucked flowers perspective. Death is imminent, but the rose lives on as an unworldly comfort to us still in nature. Here is the translation of the Berlioz’s “La Spectre de la Rose” from Nuits d’ete. And following the translation, the link to the song performed by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. She is the rose whose art visits me at night, and whose love and I can still feel in her voice.




 |  Michael Barrett

It’s really summer now. When August first rolls around, the end of summer is in sight. But, we still have a delicious month left before the kids (and many of the grown ups) go back to school, and back to their quotidian routines. But since we have a month, this week will be devoted to my personal musical associations with summer. I have lots, so this will be a wide ranging selection of songs.




 |  Michael Barrett

It’s been a Bach week, but I’m departing from my faith-based musical life for today. I’m feeling melancholy since spring is finally here. The Norwegians, after months of non-stop darkness and no sunshine, view the first day of spring as the saddest day of the year, since they can already sense the end of it, and the oncoming winter. But we (and they) still yearn for spring every year.




 |  Michael Barrett

I’ve been drawn closer and closer to Bach lately. Maybe he’s the only antidote I have to our perilous and uncertain times. Yesterday was “Bist Du bei Mir”. And the day before “Schlummert Ein”. To follow, I was drawn to the Goldberg Variations, since it starts with an Aria. I thought that would be the basis of the Song of the Day. No performance on Youtube was particularly convincing. I thought, “oh what the hell, let’s see how old Glenn Gould stacks up”.




 |  Michael Barrett

Today’s Song of the Day features one of my all-time favorites, again by J.S.Bach. I’ve been re-reading John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven with much pleasure. Do yourself a favor and read it. This is from Anna Magdalena’s Notebook—things she wrote down for herself and her many kids. It voices the beautiful wish that at death, one’s beloved is with them, and that they can gently go into that good night of the other world.




 |  Michael Barrett

J.S. Bach is still the guiding light for most of us who have studied and practice classical music. He created a kind of purity that I think married humanity with the loftiest concept of God. I personally find Bach is enough, without religion. And when Lorraine Hunt Lieberson is singing, I feel like I’m safe and loved and touched by grace. Please listen to “Schlummert Ein” from Cantata No. 82 Ich Habe Genug.




 |  Michael Barrett

Certainly one of our most successful living opera composers, Bolcom has an amazing way of writing arias that sound really American, and still sound like Grand Opera. I hear jazz chords, the blues, and american musical gestures which I don’t have a name for. And it is all somehow spun into soaring operatic melody.




 |  Michael Barrett

Songs of Cifar and the Sweet Sea is the setting of an epic poem by Pablo Antonio Cuadra. The protagonist, a sailor named Cifar is destined to sail the greatest lake in Nicaragua. All his life lessons, challenges, and triumphs are a result of his life on the water. It all begins with Cifar’s birth. Here is “El Nascimento de Cifar” by Gabriela Lena Frank. Andrew Garland is the excellent baritone. Warren Jones is at the piano.