Sunday, May 03, 2015

Sunday Classics snapshot: "My day in the hills has come to an end, I know"


My day in the hills
has come to an end, I know.
A star has come out
to tell me it's time to go.
But deep in the dark green shadows
are voices that urge me to stay.
So I pause and I wait and I listen
for one more sound,
for one more lovely thing
that the hills might say.

by Ken

You know what today's musical snapshot is, I'm sure. Or just possibly maybe not. It wasn't till yesterday that I discovered that people all over the world who are intimately familiar with the source may never have heard these beautiful lines.

Need a hint? Here's another haunting musical setup, one that we've already heard (back in January 2011), that's kin to the above. (In my head I frequently get their respective musical destinations mooshed up.)

When I think of Tom, I think about a night
when the earth smelled of summer
and the sky was streaked with white,
and the soft mist of England was sleeping on a hill.
I remember this, and I always will.

There are new lovers now on the same silent hill,
looking on the same blue sea.
And I know Tom and I are a part of them all --
and they're all a part of Tom and me. . . .

Valerie Masterson, vocal; National Symphony Orchestra, John Owen Edwards, cond. Jay, recorded July 1994


It's Anna's haunting recitative of remembrance, which leads into her song "Hello, Young Lovers" in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I. And as I suggested, I frequently find myself, when I run this recit through my head, segue-ing into the song that follows the gorgeous recitative we're snapshotting today.

RODGERS and HAMMERSTEIN: The Sound of Music: "My day in the hills has come to an end, I know . . . The hills are alive with the sound of music"

Just to avoid confusion, this of course is Julie Andrews as Maria in the opening scene of Robert Wise's film version of The Sound of Music.

Mary Martin, vocal; Original Broadway Cast recording, Frederick Dvonch, cond. Columbia-CBS-Sony, recorded Nov. 22, 1959

And the reason you can think you know The Sound of Music intimately and still never have heard this beautiful recitative is that it's omitted from the film version's famous opening, which so carefully sets the film stage in young Maria's Alpine wonderland before Maria herself, in the person of Julie Andrews appears in the distance and twirls her way up the hill to sing the show's title song, shorn of its original recitative, which obviously doesn't make sense in this context.

I only discovered this yesterday, because I saw it for the first time yesterday, a mere 50 years after the film opened, at the Museum of the Moving Image in a beautiful archival 70mm print (provided by the Motion Picture Academy's invaluable film archive). Which was a pretty darned good way of seeing the thing for the first time. At some point I'm probably going to want to say something about it, especially hard upon seeing Julie Andrews in consecutive weeks at MoMI in The Americanization of Emily, part of that amazing cluster of films she made, preceded by Mary Poppins, in the wake of the crushing disappointment of being passed over for her signature role, Eliza Dolittle, for the film version of My Fair Lady.

It's a small loss, I suppose, trading these 45 seconds of music for the wonderful effect the song itself makes in Robert Wise's lovely opening scene, and the recitative isn't entirely lost, since intimations of it can be heard in the orchestral music that leads up to the song. But that's not the same thing.

(By the way, in the Clever Ideas Gone for Naught Dept., had the idea of offering the King and I excerpts as sung by Julie Andrews, from the King and I recording she made many years after she made The Sound of Music, with Ben Kingsley as the King. Wouldn't that have been cute? But I still don't know what I did with that CD, which was already MIA when I did the 2011 post. I know I've seen it . . . around.)



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