Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Hurdy Gurdy (2)

David Munrow with Gillian Munrow on the hurdy gurdy 
8.5" x 11" (cropped), ink and watercolor on paper, 2012
2011 as a Top 100 music year has ended and the Top 100 2012 starts today. In a few days I will forward the complete list as I am still working on finishing it. Posts with paintings for the 2011 year will continue to be published until the Top 100 2011 exhibition opens on March 26th. At the moment I'm selecting 24 more tracks from about 50 tunes with 9 points to complete the list that must contain 100. Many of these last 24 entries will be illustrated with ink drawings and small watercolor paintings. Then another ten songs still have to be painted (with oils) from the 76 that scored 10 or more points in the 2011 Top 100 year. The posts will come fast and furious now. I will double them up. The first two to enter the Top 100 with 9 points are both interpreters of classical music. Maria Callas sings Casta Diva from Bellini's opera Norma, and David Munrow's The Early Music Consort of London performs Joliveté et bone amor on the hurdy-gurdy from the 13th Century composer Jehan d'Esquire. 
I have a fairly large collection of medieval and early renaissance music and I felt it had to be represented this year. I chose a track from the double record set Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance by The Early Music Consort of London that I've played quite a few times this past year. The Consort's leader David Munrow is a remarkable chapter in the history of recorded old music. He was a scholar, a gifted, mostly self taught musician, wrote several books, and recorded over 50 albums in a very short career (Munrow committed suicide in 1976 at the age of 33.) Music from the middle ages barely has any musical notation so the performers of such early music rely on written accounts of performances, previous recordings of the material, associations with similar, later, and better documented music, but most of all their personal creativity and interpretive abilities. As far as my humble musical expertise can evaluate these criteria David Munrow belongs to the best.
That Maria Callas belongs to the best in her category goes without saying. I love Maria Callas. I have twelve records dedicated to the American born Greek opera diva and many of these are box sets. The aria Casta Diva is her signature song and one of her recordings of it represents for me one of the most beautiful voices ever recorded. 
Maria Callas
8.5" x 11"
ink on paper, 2012

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