Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Capitol Fourth: Got there this year

A Capitol Fourth tonight, well, it was warm and dry, and I got there from the Washington Monument side, walking throuhg the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which had a pavaillion "El Salon Mexico" (actually a tone poem of Aaron Copland).

PBS has the best account of the concert program, here. PBS WETA in Washington is good enough to rebroadcast the entire concert at 10 PM.

Just a few remarks. When Rachmaninoff’s “18th Variation” (from the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini) is played by itself, it seems to represent the composer. (But the Third Concerto Finale would be a bit heavy for a Capitol Fourth.)

I’d love to hear the piano and orchestra rendition of “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca (Warner Brothers’s trademark).

As for Sousa and The Washington Post March, I remember a 78 record of that, I think on Capitol Records. It cost 79 cents in 1949.

Just as the fireworks start, we hear the Kate Smith (and for that matter, Ronald Reagan) special, “God Bless America” (sung by Reba McEntire).

David Archuleta (who got past Simon Cowell, remember) sung. In 2004, Clay Aiken sang.

As for the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture, again, the NSO played only the recapitulation and coda (though with Chorus, making it sound a bit like the coronation scene from Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudonov). It’s interesting to me that it’s called an “Overture Solenelle” and that it celebrates commemorate Russia's defense of Moscow against Napoleon's advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino in 1812, and has nothing to do with America’s War of 1812. As the overture concluded, extra cannons went off near the Capitol Reflecting Pool, and it was followed by another medley of non-Mahler marches.

My first recording of that work was an old Somerset, and then (when I got stereo in 1962) a friend gave me a second copy of a Mercury recording (Dorati, I think) with the Capriccio Italienne on the back (not Tchaikovsky’s best, which for my ear, is something like the close of the first movement of the Fourth Symphony.)

At a "Freedom Plaza" tent, an evangelical preacher was trying to save souls with some good ole'time religion. In lower light, the camera wouldn't resolve on him, and the picture (right above) came out fuzzy.

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