REVIEW POTPOURRI – Violin Concertos; Singer: Don Williams; Movie: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Bjarne Brustad

Violin Concerto No. 4

William Walton

Violin Concerto

Bjarne Brustad

Camilla Wicks, violin, with Herbert Blomstedt and Yuri Somonov conducting the Oslo Philharmonic, Simax PSC 1185, CD, live broadcasts.

Sir William Walton

The 4th Violin Concerto of Bjarne Brustad (1895-1978), one of Nor­way’s leading 20th century composers, is a meandering exercise full of dramatic, pounding chords that go no­where; the only Violin Concerto of Sir Wil­liam Wal­ton (1901-1983) is an exciting example of perky, exotic rhythms and emotionally wistful poetry that, for me, gets better with every hearing. Both performances are as fine as is usually the case with the wonderful violinist, Camilla Wicks, and conductors Herbert Blomstedt in the 1968 broadcast of Brustad and Yuri Simonov in a 1985 one of Walton.

Wicks, now 89 and retired since 2005, made her debut playing a Mozart Concerto at 7.

Don Williams

Country Boy
MCA, MCAC-37232, cassette, released 1977.

Don Williams

I first encountered Don Williams (1939-2017) as part of Pozo Seco, an exquisitely accomplished duo that included another singer, Susan Taylor, and in 1969, when I was a high school senior . They released an LP, Shades of Time, consisting of a folk­/country assortment of very fine songs that were finely performed – I have owned a few copies over the last 50 years because I kept letting them go to others.

When he became a purely country singer, I still liked the smoothly soothing voice and delivery but thought the songs were mainly so-so or, at best, okay, thus losing interest in him.

Country Boy, a 1977 studio album was the usual assortment of his trademark love ballads and did not sustain my interest. However, his integrity and personality were of the highest calibre throughout his phenomenally successful career. He was a model husband to his wife of 57 years and wonderful father to two sons!

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World

starring Spencer Tracy, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Jimmy Durante, Three Stooges and almost every other comedian and numerous actors and actresses alive in 1963; directed by Stanley Kramer; approximately 3 hours, DVD.

This is the funniest, longest, most expensive and most profitable comedy ever produced in cinema history. I have seen it at least 20 times and still laugh myself into a strait jacket.

A few examples of its humor – Buddy Hackett and Rooney in an airplane with the drunk pilot, Jim Backus, knocked out; Jonathan Winters single-handedly destroying a garage; Jimmy Durante driving 1 mph around hairpin curves with no railings and weaving on both sides and several dozen greedheads on a rickety ten-story fire ladder! One final funny – arch con man Phil Silvers licking his smiling cobra chops and spewing, “Try me – I’m gullible!”

Best watched in two or three installments or you will be laughed out!


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