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May 19, 1978 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-05-19

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Page 8-Friday, May'19, 1978--The Michigan Daily
Current records reviewed


Arias From Carmen.Samson
etDalila, etc.
Elena Obraztsova, with
the Philharmonia Orchestra

Arias by Glinka,
Dargomyzhsky, etc.
Boris Shtokolov, with Orchestrasoftthe Bolshoi
and Leningrad Kirov Theatres
Co/imbia M34s69
Albums of operatic showpieces by
stars of the various Russian opera
companies (Bolshoi, Kirov, etc.) have
been flooding the market recently. Two
representative releases are Angel's
recital by Elena Obraztsova, the mezzo
who was a big hit last year at La Scala
and the Met, and Columbia-Melodiya's
release of songs from Russian operas
by Boris Shtokolov of the Kirov.
Each recordigg features some very
fine works and each suffers in spots
from the same flaw -.the Russian style
of opera seems much more stilted and
formalized than we Western audiences
are accustomed to. Part of this undoub-
tedly lies in the Social Realism attitude
toward art, which has something to do
with the treatment of classics as
museum pieces.
features some of the warhorses of the
mezzo soprano repertoire. The album
includes Verdi's "Stride la vampa" and
"Condotta ell'era in ceppi" from 11
Trovatore and "0 don fatale" from Don
Carlos; Bizet's "Habanera" and "Pres
des remparts de Seville" from Car-
men; three arias from Saint-Sains'
Samson et Dalila; the de rigueur "Voi
to sapete" from Mascagni's Cavalleria
Rusticana; and the one big surprise,
"acerba volutta" from Cilea's too-
seldom performed Adriana
It is astounding that within the works
of one composer, in this case Verdi,
Obraztsova can swing from the
mediocre to the absolutely glorious.
Her performances of the two Trovatore
numbers are subdued almost to the
point of boredom, and yet the over-
worked "O don fatale" is rendered with
impassioned beauty. This is seen
especially in the "Condotta" number,
which was chosen asa companion piece
to the "Stride" because it parallels the
latter musically, actually inserting a
strain from the song in the most
dramatic moment.

Maybe her heart simply isn't in the role
of Azucena (the gypsy in Trovatore).
The Samson et Daila bits are decent
but, again, not too excitingly perfor-
med. But here the music is at fault.
These are real ho-bummers, and the
only question here is why they were
chosen for inclusion at all. Better than
these by far are the two Carmen num-
bers, which Obraztsova performs with
cunning, flair and sensuality. Her voice
is supple, becoming sly and sinuous, or
triumphant, as the shifting moods of the
song require.
BUT THE real crown of the album is
the Adraina Lecouvreur number. This
is an opera so filled with lush melodies,
poignant and searing orchestrations, so
as to make a Grand Inquisitor cry.
Words fail me.
Words also fail me on describing
Boris Shtokolov, whose voice seems
best put to work in arias where he can
display some humor. None of the arias
herein presented are of conventional
"humorous" subjects, yet Shtokolov's
voice displays a kind of quiet
amusement as he sings. That is, when
he isn't being stiff. Rarely does he ex-
ploit the full emotional value of the
music, sometimes even going so far as
to disregard the original dynamics.
Shtokolov is something of a lesser
light, being essentially less flexible
than Obratzsova; he is also a member
of a lesser company (she is with the
Bolshoi). And yet, some of the numbers
on his album bear hearing.
All in all, both albums are a curious
mix of the dull and the beautiful, and
each suffer in the same way. We shall
probably see more of the same, since
the Russian opera-star glut is just
-Jeffrey Selbst
...And ThenoTherewereThrree
' AlninsS l4/73
Ever since leader/lead singer Peter
Gabriel left Genesis, the band has been
a losing proposition. Though much of
their music is as entertaining as it was
in the Gabriel days, it lacks the creative
spark and variety that once made it
great. And the lyrics, for the most part,
have succumbed to Yes/Emerson,
Lake & Palmer vapidity.
Yet Gabriel wasn't wholly respon-
sible for Genesis's earlier successes, so
there's no real reason .. And Then
There Were Three, their latest LP,
shouldn't be better. The band may sim-
ply be trying to spread itself too thin.
When Gabriel left, drummer Phil
Collins assumed the lead vocals, and
the band was down to four. When
guitarist Steve Hackett left last year,
bassist Mike Rutherford assumed
guitarist duties as well, and the band
was down to three. What's needed is
some new blood. Then perhaps their
next album won't sound like a remake
of their previous work. It's already too
late for this one.

terglow," from last year's Wind and
Wuthering. A slow, soft song of blinding
beauty, it is a pleasure to listen to
anytime. With these two successes un-
der their belt, the new, smaller Genesis
apparently decided to play it safe and
make an album based largely on them.
Indeed, there are only two kinds of
songs on. .. And Then There Were
Three: "fast" and "slow." For a little
variety, the band sometimes adds a lit-
tle bit of "Squonk" to some of the slow
tunes, making an exciting hybrid. And
the band has alternated the fast songs
with the slow songs - an ingenious
THE LYRICS HAVE a little more
variety. "Down and Out," of the
"Squonk" mold, is a clever attack on
capitalism, somewhat akin to Pink
Floyd's "Dogs." Clever capitalists that
they are, however, you can't help
feeling they aren't being sincere. The
same lack of sincerity mars "Under-
tow," a song about a boring relation-
ship, "Ballad of Big," a "fast," but
corny Western tale, "Snowbound," an
epic of mysticism, and, in fact, all the
rest of the songs. To quote Nick Lowe,
"so it goes."
This band is so caught up in the past
they're unhip enough not to include a
disco number, as is now the fashion.
They also fail to provide a single set of
lyrics worth thinking about. It often
seems like the words are just there
because without them there would be no
song. What a shame, especially when
one remembers how stimulating
albums like Selling England By The
Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on
Broadway were.
Yet, this album does have its momen-
ts. "Follow You Follow Me," the single,
is a bouncy love song, even if the lyrics
make "Silly Love Songs" sound
profound. And "Undertow,"
Snowbound," "Say It's Alright Joe,"
and "The Lady Lies" do have awfully
nice melodies, even if they don't sound
very new. The band's history is good
enough to make this journey through
the past an enjoyable, if familiar, one.
Genesis has always shown a liking for
mind games. Perhaps this is their
ultimate jest.
-Mike Taylor

album of English folk rock. Anderson
weaves his flute, acoustic guitars,
mandolin and various keyboards and
percussion into songs which verge on
the baroque or medieval. His lyrics
strike a wonderful balance between
straightforward prose and the beautiful
obscurity of any Yes-song you'd care to
...And The Mouse Police Never
Sleeps" opens the album with an in-
tricate and devilish song of tribute to
Anderson's "savage bed foot-
warmer/of purest feline ancestry." The
-Mi cig anDAILY
song ends with a curious, almost
demonic chant - a warming to the "lit-
tle furry folk."
THE ALBUM'S main intent is reflec-
ted in such celebrations of the simple
life as "Acres Wild," "Moths," and
"Rover" - all love songs. "Moths"
features Anderson's Cat Stevens growl,
mercifully without the latter's
adolescent pop lyrics. "Acres Wild"
and "Rover" show his love for the far
marches of England's wild country as
well as the subject of each song.
The band plays meticulously. Ander-
son's greatest asset, aside from his
breathy flute playing, is his lead voice.
It is very nasal and deep in his throat,
and he uses it marvelously to express
The two longest songs are a bit disap-
pointing. "No Lullaby" sounds like
"Pibroch" redux from the previous
album. The title track illustrates nicely
the "noble grace" of the Heavy Horses,
but is uneven and suffers from lack of
an ending. Despite the majesty of this
song and the whole album, the addition
of a violin to several Baroque breaks in
"Heavy Horses" sent echoes of Kansas
spinning through this reviewer's head.
"JOURNEYMAN" IS pure Jethro
Tull, pushing flute to the fore amid tales
of street life. Electric guitars send this
journeyman "night tripping on the late
fantastic," and Anderson's sentiments
never hide behind genteel niceties.
"One Brown Mouse," Tull's single, is
the least elaborate of the album's tunes,
and the finale, "Weathercock," is the
most subdued - pure folk rock.
Unlike Songs From the Wood, Heavy
Horses has no stand-out pieces; all are
,of excellent but even quality. Disap-
pointingly, there are no bawdy ballads
with Anderson's delightfully suggestive
lyrics, such as last year's "Hunting
Girl" and -"Velvet Green." Tull's
arrangements have forced Anderson's
flute into the background for most of
the album - in fact, there is not one
flute solo in the whole album!
Ian Anderson's idea of a fine life is
a"newa wheefofoaken wood,
Amincof pcfdsedlcar5e-,. -
A H-HwcyIa aned awnlincs5y, -
S3ewin hey weche.
-Marty Levine

Heavy Horses
Jethro Tull's Scottish-born flutist Ian

Anderson once wrote about the street
ONE OF THE best Genesis tunes in life he lived, but with last year's Songs
-" A " -, From the Wood and Tull's latest. Hpavv

recen ysrsndersonu hk. Aentsh-s banyd
THISeMOMENT falls"flat with2Obraz- moving, engaging rock 'n roll tune, it Horses, Anderson has sent his band
THIS MOMENT falls flat with Obraz- was a highlight of both A Trick of the tripping into the past in celebration of
tsova, perhaps because of her training. Tail, their first album without Gabriel, English country life. Rock's heavy
But why does a similarly dramatic and Seconds Out, the dismal live album breather has turned country squire.
number like the aria from Don Carlos they released last year. Another good Heavy Horses is essentially Songs
work so well"This is.ahard toaaswer,.. 'thne' of , redent' 'vinta'ge'"wa "'"AV ' .From.The. Wood11 , -- another fine

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