REVIEWS: Composer: Johannes Brahm; Film: Hitch, starring Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

How I Started Collecting Records — Continued!

Along with the Burl Ives records, there were others given to me. Numerous titles from such labels as Golden Records, Peter Pan and Children’s Record Guild abounded. I remember a Johnny Ray Columbia 45 hit — Just Walkin’ in the Rain – that I heard a lot on the radio. One day Mom bought me a copy of it — my first example of owning a record I had already grown to like from listening to the radio but far from being the last one.

Although I didn’t add any more of Ray’s records until more than 40 years later, I continue to regard him as an intriguing singer with a very individualistic style of delivery. I would also recommend watching the Jack Benny skit on YouTube, in which the comedian visits the singer’s home, as one of the funniest ever produced! (To continue next week…)

Brahms

Piano Quintet
Leon Fleisher, piano, with the Juilliard String Quartet; Odyssey Y 35211, 12- inch stereo vinyl LP, recorded early ‘60s.

Johannes Brahm

This composition was originally scored and performed as a Quintet for five string players and a Sonata for two pianos but Brahms and his two closest friends, violinist Joseph Joachim and Clara Schumann, widow of the great composer, Robert Schumann, felt something was missing. It was then rescored for piano and four string players and became a success that continues to be performed to the present day, with a large number of fine recordings.

It has a kind of special beauty, rhythmic power and sense of tragedy that combine into a unique musical experience. The pianist Leon Fleisher and his Juilliard colleagues gave their all, making this recording one that will reward numerous hearings.

Hitch

starring Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Allegra Cole, etc.; directed by Andy Tennant; Columbia Pictures; 118 minutes; 2005.

Will Smith

Eva Mendes

This film deals with the activities of a matchmaker, Hitch (Will Smith); his would-be girlfriend, Sara (Mendes), who is also a gossip columnist; a paunchy, klutzy stockbroker, Albert (James) ; and Albert’s girlfriend of a lifetime, Allegra (Valletta), who is beautiful, filthy rich, and very down to earth, an unusual combination. The stars do magnificent work in a very funny film, my favorite being Eva Mendes, who, as Sara, does a wonderful scene of emotional vulnerability in opening up to Hitch about her childhood when she felt really hurt – the kind of honesty in acting that is so rarely seen at anytime in a film of today without the hysterics.

In other words, one superb film!

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