Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1981)

Leonard Slatkin conducting the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

I have a love/hate relationship with this brief album. I purchased it when I was in college because it included Grainger's Irish Tune From County Derry and Barber's Adagio For Strings, which was a popular classical piece at the time because of its masterful placement in the 1986 movie Platoon. However, I quickly found the true stars of this CD are the Vaughan Williams and Pavane, Op. 50 by Fauré. The Grainger and Barber are just OK: the Barber has some pitch problems while the important inner voices in the Grainger are all but ignored. The orchestra shines on the Vaughan Williams and Fauré, making these my favorite interpretations of these works. That's the love part. The hate part follows.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: During my first semester in college, my advisor signed me up for a self-paced biology class. This class did not have set meeting times. Instead, students were to read a textbook, listen to a recorded lecture, then take a Scantron test for each chapter. This would be a bad learning experience for most anyone, but it was a particularly bad idea for an incoming college student still trying to adjust to the structure of college life. The recorded lectures had intro and outro music on them. For ALL lectures it was the same piece of music: Satie's Gymnopédie No. 3. So since that time, I've always associated that piece with a horrible experience. As I listen to this recording today, more than 25 years later, I still get a bad feeling, almost like someone has hit me in the stomach. I know that's a strong reaction, but that should tell you how bad my biology class experiences were. I made a C in that course and probably deserved less. Sam Cooke could have been singing about my college experience when he sang

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took.

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