A musical interlude: Reynaldo Hahn, Solomon
Not that you asked, but I have been absorbed with various work projects, some of them piled on top of each other now so I might take some time off in the days ahead.
All of this has me somewhat distracted from blogging -- although I have kept up with my globally beneficial Midweek Madness featurette -- not that anyone seems to have noticed lately. Come on, Der Bingle singing "Ob La Di" surrounded by go-go dancers and a marching band? How could you resist? Isn't that worth a comment or two? You're not going to find the likes of that on just any old blog, let me tell you.
Well, anyway, I have to get back to the grind, but I hated to leave you with nothing fresh today. So I did what I often do when pressed for time (and a topic) -- glance at my handy-dandy Boosey & Hawkes Music Diary and see if the date might yield any ideas, then rush to good old reliable YouTube. (Shameless, I know.)
Sure enough, two fascinating musicians happen to share an Aug. 9th birthday -- ...
Venezuelan-born French composer and journalist Reynaldo Hayn (1874-1947) and British pianist Solomon (1902-1988). They have nothing in common except that they both deserve to be a heckuva lot better known today.
I confess that I, too, needed to be reminded of Solomon, whose recordings I have not dug out in too long. He had tremendous artistic integrity to go with a solid technique. Like other keyboard giants of the past, he honored the music first and foremost, while still leaving his own imprint.
And I think it's cool that Solomon was a one-name artist long before the likes of Prince and Madonna got the idea. (His surname was Cutner, by the way.) It helped that the pianist looked so Solomon-like, with his classic profile -- that heroic nose, that firm chin, that balding pate.
A stroke cut short his career in 1956, but he made enough recordings before then to document his rare gifts. I've chosen a film clip of Solomon playing the finale of Beethoven's "Apassionata."
Hahn, who was involved with and inspired Proust, did not produce a large quantity of music. But there is a gem-like quality to his works -- effortlessly crafted melodies supported by the unfailingly elegant harmonies.
You can easily hear what I mean in these two eloquent songs, performed by soprano Ninon Vallin with the composer at the keyboard: "L'Heure exquise" (text by Verlaine) and "Tyndaris" (text by Leconte de Lisle).