The evening began with the luminous show From the Top (with Christopher Reilly), which features young classical performers from around the country, and great they are, too, giving one much hope for the future of classical music. It's a co-production of the New England Conservatory and WGBH here in Boston, but is nationally distributed *and* recorded before a live studio audience. Last night, Bela Fleck was an unusual guest who performed with several of the youngsters.
Next came the redoubtable Ray Smith's The Jazz Decades, on the air for nearly thirty years and featuring (mostly older) recordings and radio broadcasts. Inasmuch as records in the old days were made essentially live, no editing, they count -- and they sure do get the toe tapping.
After that was River Walk, live jazz from San Antonio with the always hot Jim Cullum Jazz Band, and tap dancing sensation Savion Glover. Again, recorded live before a studio audience. Mercy it was good!
Then came the big surprise: Die Walkuere on Harvard Radio (Sunday Night at the Opera is a longtime feature) from three different sources, all recorded live:
Act 1: Furtwaengler and the RAI, recorded a year before his complete cycle and even better than the Act 1 therein. My GOODNESS!
Act 2: Fritz Reiner and the San Francisco Opera, broadcast live (just this act) on NBC. The singers? Just Kirsten Flagstad, Lotte Lehman, Lauritz Melchoir and Friedrich Schorr. How good was it? I had to put down my reading, which happened to be Robert Philip's Performing Music in the Age of Recording -- which was making the point of how performance practice has degraded owing to studio recordings. How ironic is that?
Act 3: Von Karajan from Bayreuth in 1952, the only act of a complete performance that EMI has ever issued. And you know what? It was really good! Although... I picked the book back up again.
All the preceding was accompanied by the great Mendocino Brewing Co's Blue Heron pale ales and White Eagle IPAs, as well as half a 22-oz. bottle of the way-strong HeBrew Lenny's RIPA (the rest will go down tonight) so who knows? I may be mistaken... a pushover for music when in my cups...