“Serious Fun!” – Comic Songs Program with Jody Karin Applebaum, soprano/Marc-André Hamelin, piano – Albany

by | Jan 10, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

“Serious Fun!” – Comic Songs Program with Jody Karin Applebaum, soprano/ Marc-André Hamelin, piano – Albany TROY744. 69:46 *****:

This disc has been around for some time. I must admit I put it aside because I was waiting for a time when I could sit and really listen to the lyrics closely.  That time came when I recently replaced an ailing CD player in my car and gradually got thru the disc a few songs at a time when on errands. It’s a kick and half – similar to collections which Joan Morris and  William Bolcom had put out some years back. There are a total of 20 songs and the pair has chosen some of the best.  They both give their all performance-wise; Applebaum is a fine musical actress with perfect diction and intonation, and Hamelin – who has a top international career as a virtuoso solo pianist – not only provides perfectly-attuned accompaniment but even joins in vocally on a couple of the songs when required. Thoughtfully the lyrics to the songs are printed in the note booklet – since some go by at a rapid pace.

Among my favorites were the efforts of the wonderful British duo Flanders & Swann, who I once got to see in person. Their Have Some Madeira, M’Dear? and ll Wind crack me up every time. The latter is a song about someone having stolen the singer’s French horn, sung to the exact notes of one of the Mozart horn concertos. William Bolcom’s own Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise is another high point, along with Tom Lehrer’s Masochism Tango and Hanukkah in Santa Monica. The latter reminds me that at a recent holiday party Frederick Silver’s The Twelve Days After Christmas garnered a lot of guffaws. Some of the songs are like a sung shaggy dog story, with the big laughs coming on the final line, i.e.: Someone Is Sending Me Flowers, by Harnick and Baker. Stephen Sondheim’s I Never Do Anything Twice gets into rather adult revelations which might be shocking or sacrilegious to some.

TrackList: Come On Algernon, Maternity, Someone Is Sending Me Flowers, Christian Dior, Summer Is A’Comin’ In, Madeira M’Dear?, A Farmer’s Boy, Ill Wind, Hanukkah In Santa Monica, The Twelve Days of Christmas, The Green-Eyed Dragon, Usherette’s Blues, Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise, The Shape of Things, Musical Chairs, I Never Do Anything Twice, The Masochism Tango, Pretty Plato, A Word On My Ear, Tamara Queen of the Nile.

– John Sunier

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