Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Carl Wilson wants to know who the poor wealthy man’s Allen Ginsberg of music is, while Jordan Davis isn’t too concerned that Helen Vendler can’t find the Auden of today’s under-30 crowd.

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From Helen Radice comes the most welcome news that George Hunka is back blogging again, links page updated accordingly. And I want to thank George for posting this breathtaking Rembrandt painting of The Evangelist Matthew and the Angel, a portrait of an old bearded man writing, looking up startled with his hand on his chest as a young woman whispers something in his ear -- the young woman has wings -- Rembrandt’s unmatched genius for capturing the Dramatic Moment of Revelation, in this instance the Moment of Matthew’s Inspiration while Writing the Gospel -- I hadn’t seen this picture since it made me cry at the Louvre in 1987, and seeing it again takes my breath again and moistens my eyes again. Thanks, George, and thanks, especially, Mr. van Rijn. Wow.

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The aforementiond Helen has a really cool post on the technological history of the harp, her instrument.

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A couple nights ago I was grumpificating about how Frank Sinatra’s recording of John Hartford’s song “Gentle on My Mind” and Renee Fleming’s version of Joni Mitchell’s “River” (which I heard a year or so ago on “Prairie Home Companion”) both sound like the singers are slumming. I don’t regret criticizing Frank, because the sound of his voice is so bound with his persona, and his persona is so very wrong for that song. But I’m having second thoughts about dissing Ms. Fleming, whose voice was justly praised by the Seattle Weekly’s classical critic Gavin Borchert (scroll down) as “creamy and opulent.” My knee-jerk reaction is bound up with expectations of a quotidian, vernacular vocal sound to match the slangy idiom of pop songwords. I can’t get beyond my expectation, and my mind’s ear’s memory still doesn’t like Ms. Fleming’s version, but the problem may lie with me & my prejudices. Will continue to work on them.

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Did I mention that my friend Andrew, who’s blogging his tourist-ing in Asia, is single?

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