Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Oil Rags and Reality

1) I always presumed that the flavoring agent in Earl Grey tea was bergamot oil, from the mint-like herb (it has square stems like mint!) bergamot. But no, it's oil from the peel of the bergamot orange.

2) Reality TV is no longer just cancer on television; it has become a cancer on reality.

3) William Bolcom is a serious classical composer, with many suites, sonatas, symphonies, and other concert hall works to his name, but he also writes contemporary rags. I've found passable versions of two of my favorites on YouTube.

Graceful Ghost is one of the saddest and most beautiful of all rags--right up there with Joplin's Bethena. Here it's performed sensitively (if a bit poorly miked) by Megan Mui.

Another of Bolcom's Ghost Rags is Poltergeist, which is altogether more rambunctious-- particularly in the middle section when the ghost starts throwing the crystal around. Played by Olivier Cazal.

I believe both of these tunes were published in 1978. Bolcom's excellent old recording called Heliotrope Bouquet is out of print, but both these rags performed by the composer are on Bolcom's Complete Rags as well as various collections (Richard Dowling does a great job with Graceful Ghost).

Bolcom has also written what must be the funniest contemporary classical cabaret tune (faint praise, I know, but it's clever): Amor with lyrics by Arnold Weinstein.

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