REVIEW POTPOURRI: Film – A Mighty Wind; Composer – Franz Haydn

Peter Catesby  Peter Cates

A Mighty Wind – starring Bob Balaban, Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Christopher Guest, etc.; directed by Christopher Guest; Warner Borthers, DVD, 2003, 92 minutes.

A Mighty Wind

A Mighty Wind

A very good comedy.

A Mighty Wind is a satire or mockumentary, done in the style of a real documentary, on the folk music business as it transpired during its major heyday between roughly 1957 and 1968. The story details the efforts of the son of a recently deceased record producer/ impresario to re-unite the three leading groups whose careers flourished during the previously mentioned period under the old man, for a live concert, to be broadcast by a public TV network across the nation. The two reasons are  a memorial concert and the earlier mentioned 40th anniversary reunion.

The three groups are patterned after such ensembles as the Kingston Trio, the Limelighters, the Mitchell Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, and the New Christy Minstrels. The songs were composed for the film, sound much like the folk music of the earlier groups but are still first class and very enjoyable, instead of merely derivative. In documentary style, the interviews, flashbacks, rehearsals and other so-called background material ring true with context.

I have viewed the film several times, mainly because it is hilarious. And that is the main reason I highly recommend this dvd.

Franz Haydn

Franz Haydn

Haydn String Quartets, Opus 77, No. 2 and Opus 103 – the Schneider Quartet; The Haydn Society, Inc.- HSQ-38, 12-inch LP, recorded early ‘50s.

A beautifully played pair of Haydn Quartets.

In addition to composing 104 symphonies and piles of piano sonatas, masses, oratorios, operas, songs, and pieces for other combinations, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) left upwards of 82 string quartets, each of which is reputedly musically charming for both listening and background purposes. During the very early ‘50s, the Haydn Society record label in Boston was established for the exclusive purpose of recording as much of his music as possible, with most of the works appearing on lp for the first time.

The Schneider Quartet was engaged to tape as many of the quartets as possible but, after 53  were completed, the label ran out of money. It was, in the opinion of myself and others, the finest foursome to have done these works and  has been rarely equalled in the 60 or more years since, although some formidable groups have emerged, the Hagen Quartet from the ‘80s being a personal favorite. The players – leader and first violinist Alexander Schneider, second violinist Isidore Cohen, violist Karen Tuttle and cellist Madeline Foley – poured such passion, heart-stopping beauty, and searing virtuosity into every note.

During the last year, a set of 15 CDs has made available all of the LPs in this series and it is listed with various Internet vendors.

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