In my New Yorker column last week — on Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Christian Gerhaher, and Florian Boesch — I mentioned the last-named singer's cover of Tom Waits's "Take It with Me." The video is above. (Boesch has presented a program in which he combines Waits's songs with Schumann's.) Also, I never got around to linking to this blog post on the New Yorker website, in which I attempt to give a brief overview of Fischer-Dieskau's recordings, and pick a few personal favorites.
Here is how Winthrop Sargeant, the former music critic of The New Yorker, wrote about a Hunter College concert of works by Ralph Shapey, Charles Dodge, Richard Wernick, and others, in March of 1968: "Two or three times a season, conceiving it to be my duty, I drop in on an avant-garde concert to see whether anything in the area is getting anywhere. Nothing ever is, but at least I have the satisfaction of feeling that I have kept in touch.... It seems to me that this sort of activity has become a campus fad analogous to the goldfish-swallowing of a generation or so ago.... The foundations that irresponsibly hand out grants for this kind of thing are tax-exempt, and as a citizen and tax-payer I object to paying my share of what they do not." Harumph!
Back from L.A., I'm writing now about John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a huge new Passion oratorio that contains some of the strongest — and also some of the strangest — music of the composer's career. The wavy line in the score above is for the Golgotha chorus, "yelling, mocking, abusive." More in The New Yorker a week from Monday.