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

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the would-be Streisand collaborator

I left town just as the rolling discussion of Nietzsche, Stephin Merritt, Carl-on-Celine, and the niceties of nasty criticism was winding down, but Simon Reynolds weighed in with another nice post that neatly rephrased my awkward attempt to quote Nietzsche in defense of Carl’s project. I had said Carl’s inspiration may have been related to F.N.’s theme of “self-overcoming”; Simon quotes E. M. Cioran to better effect in his statement of attraction to Carl’s project: “thinking against oneself,” he calls it.

Also not to be missed in Simon’s post is Professor Frith’s demurral that he was the godfather of the cult studs approach to rockwrite. A reference of Frith’s to Glenn-Gould-on-Streisand sent me back to The Glenn Gould Reader and his fabulous essay on Streisand.

Gould is right-on that she was a great master of vocal color or timbre, with tremendous variety and great control and imagination. What I hadn’t noticed before, though, is that Gould concludes the essay with an offer to serve as Streisand’s accompanist!

My own prescription for a Streisand dream album would include Tudor lute songs (she'd be sensational in Dowland), Mussorgsky's Sunless cycle and, as pièce de resistance — providing she'll pick up a handbook or two on baroque ornamentation – Bach’s Cantata No. 54. To date, in my experience, the most committed performance of this glorious piece was on a CBC television show in 1962. It featured the remarkable countertenor Russell Oberlin and a squad of strings from the Toronto Symphony. It also involved a harpsichordist/conductor of surpassing modesty who has requested anonymity; I am, however, assured by his agent that if Ms. Streisand would like to take a crack at Widerstehe doch der Sünde, and if Columbia would like to take a hint, he's available.

Gould’s discography confirms that the “harpsichordist/conductor of surpassing modesty” who conducted the Cantata in 1962 was Gould himself! Since he & Streisand were both with Columbia all their careers, let’s call this a missed opportunity of grand proportions.
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