Thursday, June 08, 2006

Music of the Night

Director, Jenny McConnell Frederick, writes us with this peek into the process of what is going on with the cast of The Arabian Night. If you click on the song titles you will get to sample the song. Now a message from Jenny:

During the first week of rehearsal, I gave the cast an assignment:

"Choose a song or two that connects you to your character. It can be a song that you think represents your character or it can be a song your character might listen to." This amazing cast took this assignment and ran with it! We've listened to a ton of incredible music in the last few weeks, so I thought it might be nice to share some excerpts of it with our good friends here at the blog. I've also asked the cast to give you a brief idea of who their character is.

Keep in mind, that this is not likely to be the music you'll actually hear in the show. It's just an inside look at one of the ways the cast finds to turn words on a page into a living breathing person.

First up is Ed Xavier:

Hans Lomeier is the divorced superintendent of a medium-sized apartment building: an average man in an average job on the most extraordinary day of his life.

The song is called "
Monk's Dream" as recorded by the Thelonius Monk Quartet. Purchase.

And Jason McCool:

Peter Karpati, the character I play in The Arabian Night, is a bit of an enigma - hyper-sensitive, impulsive, deeply attuned to beauty,wistful and melancholy about his many failed relationships, obsessed with longing and desire.

The clips I've chosen to some degree reflec this mystery and darkness, though he and I are still searching for the music that makes the walls sing like water.


1) "Morgen," by Richard Strauss, from "Vier Lieder für hohe Singstimmeund Klavier," op. 27, no. 4 (recorded by Barbara Bonney, soprano, andGeoffrey Parsons, piano)

A gorgeous, compelling song featuring lyrics that mirror Karpati's deep longing for romantic (or romanticized?) fulfillment. The CD that I found this recording on is out of print, however I did locate the same recording, under a Barbara Bonney compilation CD.

Translation of lyrics:

And tomorrow the sun will shine again, and on the path I will take, it will unite us again, we happy ones, upon this sun-breathing earth . . . And to the shore, the wide shore with blue waves, we will descend quietly and slowly; we will look mutely into each other's eyes and the silence of happiness will settle upon us.

2) Erik Satie - from Trois Gnossienes for Piano, I. Lent (AldoCiccolini, piano)

More of a mood piece, dark, haunting and insistent, in the way that Karpati's song "keeps repeating" in his head . . .

3) Henryck Gorecki - from Symphony No. 3 ('Symphony of SorrowfulSongs'), II. Tranquillissimo (Dawn Upshaw/David Zinman recording)

Another candidate for Karpati's "water-music," simultaneously so simple and other worldly.

4) Michael Cain - track Circa from the CD "Circa" (ECM, 1997) (also check out "Social Drones" on same CD)

This track I find exquisitely beautiful - composed for an unorthodox jazz trio by a former composition teacher of mine (also the pianist on the recording) at the Eastman School of Music, I had the incredible opportunity to play this piece many times over the course of a year, so it carries lots of personal meaning. For me this music represents a kind of "new Beethoven," if you will, in that it pushes listeners and performers toward a new, fresh way of listening and interaction - compositionally, the bleed-over of the musical voices changes dynamically from performance to performance, and might only be described in terms of ecstasy! A quality that Karpati knows quite intimately, to be sure.

5) J.S. Bach - Partita for solo violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004, I.Allemanda (Henryk Szering, violin)

Aching and timeless, and able to communicate so much drama and pathos through a single melodic line. As he paints in his apartment, Karpati enjoys listening to a violinist in his building practicing these pieces. (Another inspiring take on these is offered by NYC soprano saxophonist Peter Epstein (from CD: "Solus"), heard on Michael Cain's recording.) Any Bach will do, really, but Karpati finds Bach's Suites for Solo Cello just as groovy!

6) Madeleine Peyroux - I'll Look Around (from the CD "Careless Love")

The very beginning of this song stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it. Somehow channeling Billie Holiday, this torchy jazz singer sings of the same wistful melancholy that Karpati can't break free of.

7) Caitriona O'Leary and Dulra - "Marbhnadh Thoirdhealbhaigh Mhic Dhonnchadha (Lament For Terence MacDonough)" (from the CD "Táim Sínte Ar Do Thuama (I Am Stretched On Your Grave)

If Karpati were only Irish, he would dig this a great deal. Couldn't find this CD online for the life of me, but here's a link to another CD she's featured on.

8) Elliott Smith - Bye (from the CD "Figure 8")

Again with the other-worldliness, as conveyed through a simple, lilting 3/4 waltz tune that sticks in your head. Karpati also digs the just-released "Home to Oblivion," classical pianist Christopher O'Riley's CD of Elliott Smith covers!

9) Anouar Brahem - Raf Raf from the CD "Barzakh" Tunisian oud player

This whole CD is great, really, andcarries some of the Arabic flavor that relates more to the show as awhole, though less specifically to Karpati.

10) John Cage - Dream from CD "In A Landscape" (Stephen Drury, piano)

Somehow conveys stillness and motion at the same time. More beautiful than one might assume Cage would be!Phew!

OK, Karpati wraps up the musical perusing - he has to go learn his lines!

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