Sunday, October 15, 2006

Generals! #13

Lucky thirteen. Though I completed that comprehensive general exam in music at the beginning of September, I figure I have no official good reason to stop pairing pop and not-pop tracks and seeing what happens. Without further ado, another "generals" post, this time along sad girl lines.

Gluck :: Il Faut De Mon Destin
Elizabeth Cotten :: Going Down The Road Feeling Sad

Under normal circumstances, an unfortunate fate has its proper accompanying sounds. Groans. Wailing. It's rarely a pretty thing, except perhaps in eighteenth-century opera. In the above excerpt from Act III of from Christoph Willibald Gluck's IphigĂ©nie en Aulide (1774), our heroine — IphigĂ©nie — is innocent irony in the face of disaster. From the sounds of things, who would ever imagine this poor girl is at this moment resigning herself to murder at her father's hands? Gluck weaves too serene a melody around such foreboding news. Performance here is Lynne Dawson in a production conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. Also available for purchase here.

Elizabeth Cotten, for her part, is also suspiciously sunny with the fingerpicking: almost too much so for a woman delivering weepy news. But that's just it: its stoicism makes this performance even more poignant. Buy Freight Train And Other Songs (1991) via Amazon. More available directly from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

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