Sunday Classics preview: Is this the most beautiful recording ever made?
STEPHEN FOSTER: "Beautiful Child of Song"
That unique mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani (1933-1989) sings, and frequent collaborator Gil Kalish accompanies, this haunting Foster song, from their Nonesuch CD Songs of America.
This is a somewhat unusual preview in that it's a preview, not of this Sunday's post, but of posts that are still in the cogitating stage, based on performances I've heard these last couple of weeks.
Last week there was the seemingly unrelated pair of concerts I mentioned I attended: on Thursday, one by the American Symphony Orchestra with three major works by the American composer George Crumb, and on Friday a Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center program built around two important American pianists, Leon Fleisher and Gilbert Kalish. And this week there's been a pair of concerts at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in which the center's quartet in residence, the San Francisco-based Alexander Quartet, played -- in chronological order -- one of the crucial bodies of 20th-century chamber music, the six string quartets of Béla Bartók.
It may just be that I needed an excuse to pop in the above clip of "Beautiful Child of Song." It's such a stupendously beautiful performance that it hardly seems to require an excuse, but I'm trying to retain some semblance of "form" here. The connection is kind of stream-of-consciousness, and I'll explain it after the click-through, where we'll also be hearing from Leon Fleisher and hearing a snatch of the Bartók quartet cycle.
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