Please read my article about Eva Gauthier first because this compilation is a complement to it.
A (very brief) recap: she was a Canadian mezzo-soprano who started out as an opera singer but came to Java in 1910 and learnt loads of local music, including gamelan and kroncong. She included some of this material in the concerts she gave in the USA, as well as giving the first performances by several classical composers, including Ravel, Satie and Stravinsky.*
Because she was also the first to include jazz in her repertoire on a concert stage, it seems appropriate to offer you another selection of jazz musicians interpreting classical music in their very different ways, and (mostly) with a connection to Ibu Eva.
[I say “another” because I posted Bach Up To Me here last year.]
The first track picks itself. In 1923, Paul Whiteman was at the concert given by Eva Gauthier who was accompanied for three songs by George Gershwin, who was then commissioned to write for Whiteman’s orchestra. Rhapsody in Blue was the result in 1924. Tchaikovskiana, (presumably) orchestrated by Whiteman, was released in 1928.
That was the year that guitarist Eddie Lang joined the Whiteman Orchestra. A year previously he had recorded his version of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C Sharp Minor, Op.3, No.2, thus demonstrating beautifully that classical music need not be played with reverence, but exists to be played with.
I’ve included two tracks with operatic singers, and wonder if Eva Gauthier included the Gershwin Prelude (#4) in her repertoire. The Heitor Villa Lobos composition (#8) was written between the years 1938 and 1945, by which time she had retired from the stage and opened a music school in New York. She may well have known it however, and approved of the composition.
A year or so ago, Dwiki Darmawan, of Krakatau and World Peace Orchestra fame, told IndoJazzia that he originally studied classical piano, Chopin and the like. When we asked him why he switched, he said that he wanted to play from his heart; classical music is more about technique.
Here’s music from the heart.
01. Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra – Tchaikovskiana
02. Alan Lee – Dance of the Adolescents (Stravinsky)
03. Tonbruket – Le Var (Ravel backwards)
04. Herbie Hancock (voc. Kathleen Battle) – Prelude in C# minor (Gershwin)
05. Cæcilie Norby – No Air (Satie)
06. Eddie Lang – Prelude in C Sharp Minor, Op.3, No.2 (Rachmaninoff) (1927)
07. Miroslav Vitous – Beethoven (Garbarek/Vitous)
08. Alan Lee (voc, Jeannie Lewis) – Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 (Villa Lobos)
*Traces of jazz elements can be found in Igor Stravinsky’s music throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1945 he wrote Ebony Concerto for the Woody Herman Band.