THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Thursday, January 21, 1971
__.. oTEMIHGNDIY hrdy anay2,17
By DONALD SOSIN
The Stanley Quartet, in its second concert of the season last
night, presented three energetic works by Haydn, Piston and
Debussy, and brought, them all off with sure playing and drive.
Haydn must have been very fond of his Quartet Op. 77, No. 1,
for he transcribed it as a duo sonata, with either flute or violin
accompanied by piano. Listening to it, one can understand why.
The Finale alone is a work of genius, with dynamic and rhythmic
nuances that catch one off guard and make one smile if they are
done well, which was very much the case here. The first two
movements were performed with precision and straightforward-
ness, and in the Minuet, a Presto, we were given a foretaste of the
gay Vivace, not only in the technical excellence of the performance,
but in the tongue-in-cheek closing measures of each movement.
The success of this work rests on the first violinist. Edwin
Grzesnikowski was consistently precise even in the most demand-
Walter Piston is among the most respected of American com-
posers, for the quality of his craftsmanship as well as his unique
style which contains elements of so many others and yet emerges
as his own. He is best known for his symphonies (the Fourth is an
especially fine piece) and has written much chamber music, as well
as much-respected volumes on theory and harmony.
The Quartet No. 4, from 1953, is a totally-oriented piece which
during the course of its four movements nevertheless manages to
be tonally vague. The first movement, Soave (gently, sweet) moves
from a lyrical first statement to more impassioned writing which
culminates in a forte restatement of this theme, and then grad-
ually dies away. The brief Adagio also exhibits this are in dy-
namics. It is followed by a wild Vivace with numerous unifying
thythmic motives; it is the most effective portion of the work, and
was' superbly played. The final Con fuoco movement introduces
changing time signatures for the first time in the piece, but
strangely enough, the rhythmic pulse is more consistent than in
the other movements, where, by phrasing over bar lines and the
use of hemiola figures, the rhythm is torn apart and appears more
complex than it actually is. A few imprecise ensemble attacks did
not detract from the overall creditable performance.
I was most interested in hearing Debussy's Quartet in G,
Opus 10, for several reasons. I had heard the group's Ravel last,
year and with the change in first violinists wondered if their
French quartets would sound the same.
In addition, I was fortunate in being able to hear on old
recording of the work by the Paganini Quartet, which at the time
was Composed of Henri Temianka, Robert Maas, and the Stanley's
second violinist and violist, Gustave Rosseels and Robert Courte.
Would their interpretation differ radically in the twenty-odd years
The answer to both questions was that there was a change.
Where the Ravel had been played in a very French manner, the
Debussy was more powerful, and more romantic. With respect to-
the Paganini recording, the performance here was not as delicate,
and on a much louder dynamic level than before. Whether the
views of the artists have changed since then, or whether they were
swayed at the time by the influence of Maas, the cellist, who was
responsible for bringing them into the Quartet, I don't know.
If I must choose between performances, I would favor the
first three movements of the Paganini version, but the last move-'
ment the way it was performed by the Stanley members, for they
give to it the drive that it must have to prevent its being a re-
hashing of the other mbvements.
Nevertheless, I felt that last night's version was perfectly valid,
and the conception of the work was felt uniformly from start to
finish. One thing detracted from its being a really excellent per-
formance, the great irregularity in details such as triplet figures in
the individual parts. I am certain that if the four men had a less
busy schedule, what with teaching and other faculty duties, they
would have taken 'the time to work out these small but essential
details with the care demanded to create true ensemble playing.
By NADINE COHODA
A lot of people over th
26 years have missed a rea
sical treat whose name is Bl
McCay. Actually born M
Flonz, Blanche was probab
greatest blues singer Nor
Wisconsin and Far Ea
Minnesota ever heard or
She never made it outo
upper midwest, though. In
her bluesy jazz and her
blues were confined to th
ens of Hurlley, the resta
of Ashland, the cafes alon
Gunflint Trail and the Ja
Lantern Lodge just outsi
Blanche got her start at.
a small mining town just
of Florence, Wis. There
father would work 15, "som
16 hours a day, dragging o
iron ore -so his family of
could eat. And it was fror
tening to Pa Flonz tella
days in the shaft that Bl
got songs like "My Ma
Miner But I Don't Ca
There's Dirt in his Nai
real favorite in Wisconsin
"I Lost My Man, to a Big C
Pit," especially popular
miners in the Gogebic ra
Her all time hit, ho
heard as far south as t
Bay and twice in La Cross
"How Can You Lick thet
If You Ain't Even Got thel
In addition to herb
rumbling voice, Blanche w
fine piano player-she u
accompanied herself along
whatever sidemen she pick
along the way who weren
ways easy to find. "Hon
S you can pluck, that's good
e last enough for me," she always told
anxious bass players. And if a
l mu- drummer could be had, that was
anche swell. But if not, Blanche would
axine settle for any two hands that
ly the could beat a rhythm on the
astern Until very recently the ex-
will perience of Blanche McCay was
lost to all but those who had the
chance to hear her in one of the
of the upper midwest establishments.
istead But recently, it became known
jazzy that in one of her gigs in July,
e tav- 1942, a man from Chicago had
grants, come quietly into Eagle River
g .the and recorded Blanche as she
ack-o- sang for a large party at the
de of Jack-O-Lantern Lodge.
It was assumed this tape was
home, lost, but this past November ,a
south small record' company, Seven-
e, her Four Records Ltd. announced it
etimes had gotten hold of the recording
ut the from a Marshall Fields luggage
seven salesman. The company subse-
rn lis- quently produced a record juct
of his released in late December, and
anche Blanche McCay--Go Baby Go
n's a is well worth the $5.23 not in-
are if cluding tax, for on it are
ls," A Blanche's greatest hits already
i. And mentioned plus six other fan-
Qravel° tastic numbers. Joining her on
with all the cuts are her favorite
nge. sidemen, Eddie The Spinner
iwever. Lipton, string bass player, and
Green Rata-Tat-Tat Rinder, the best
se was drummer ever to graduate from
Gravy Antigo, Wis. high school.
Pan?" The record opens up with a
brassy. little known tune Blanche first
as one sang in Hurley-"Give Your
asually Man the Axe If He's Down in
g with the Shaft." Probably the best
ked up thing about this cut is Blanche's
n't al- accompaniment. She does a run
Bey, if up the piano and 12 or 13 bars
isso blues lady
of chords sandwiched between
her lyrics that are super, con-
sidering the piano, as she told
the audience that night, is
"missin' more keys than a jail-
er who's been shanghied!"
Two other cuts on Side One
are noteworthy-one is an in-
strumental, the other a fast
blues---"You're in the shaft and
I Got Shafted But That's All
Right Honey Cause the Milkman
Comes Today." The instrumen-
tal, which Blanche calls "Ash-
land Jive," is a neat little num-
ber where Eddie the Spinner
and Rata-Tat-Tat Rinder each
take off for a few measures on
their own, then join Blanche for
51 bars of the craziest jam
you'd ever want to hear. Blanche
is all over the keyboard, proof
that her hands work as fast as
her mouth which she occasionally
uses to throw in a "Yeah, yeah
The blues number is known
best for its lyrics-"You get
your shovel and fill up my
pit ..." and for Blanche's voice
which surges right out of the
speakers into your ears.
Side Two contains the big hit,
"How Can You Lick the Gravy
If You Ain't Even got the Pan"
which of course is superb. Not
only is Blanche's voice right in
there on this one, but the trio
added a four minute instrumen-
tal which just about knocks the
plants off the windowsills.
The other cuts are showstop-
pers as well, a sad tune-"I
Been on the Road Too Long
Cause the Pavement Stopped
Last Week" and a couple of
faster blues, the best of which
is "Baby I Need You Cause
You're All the Dough I Got." On
this one again Blanche's stel-
lar tones come pouring off the
disc into your ears, a truly great
way to spend five minutes.
So if you've got the sp ar e
change, Blanche McCay, Go
Baby Go is a great purchase.
Even though she's gone now -
she passed away Feb. 21, 1945
at the age of 54 from a rup-
tured tonsil - the Seven-Four
release preserves a real nice
slice of the past.
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