Wednesday, May 29, 2013


This unusually esoteric "all classical" set of new additions to the blog ends with….the lowly harmonica brought to the high art of quality music.

"Claude Garden!" "What, the cat has been pulling up the grass in the back yard again?"

Perhaps in France Claude's better known than Larry Adler among famous name harmonica players. Maybe this blog will change all that. Not. He did issue a few albums, and even a pop single of that annoying ditty "Nola."

Garden's obscure French pressing of romantic toots to modern composers Satie, Faure, Debussy, Milhaud and Bartok sounds like music, not a gimmick. The odd Frenchie is joined by silly piano accompaniment. Oh. Typo. The woman's name isn't Silly, it's Catherine Silie. And to make it a three-way, there's Marielle Nordmann on "harp" (which is pretty ironic if you think about how many people now call a harmonica a "harp." It's not just me and Bobby McGee.)

Probably because classical music is an acquired taste, and not easy listening (in the James Last way…something overweight Dutchmen can tearfully smile and sob to), there are often unfortunate attempts to trick people into listening. There's "Pops" concerts and "Greatest Hits" albums that simplify the music, jazz artists "swinging" the classics, and "trick instrument" deals where somebody figures you might dig Bach if it's played on a koto or a moog synthesizer. But Claude's harmonica versions aren't too bastardy, even if he does play safe and choose very melodic stuff that NPR radio stations like so much. Fortunately, no Pachelbel here, but yes, warm and fuzzy Faure and minor key snake charmer Satie.

Saving bandwidth so the blog can offer a wide variety of samples is the main reason the download is restricted to one cut, "Maniere de Commencement des 3 Morceaux en forme de Poire." Yeah, even if you translate the Satie title and notice "pear-shaped pieces" in there, it's not quite as catchy as "Flabby Preludes for a Dog" or some of his other whimsies. But...Vive le musique…and now you know that the harmonica is capable of doing more than spitting "Red River Valley" or "Clementine" via a hyper child or hillbilly, or being blasted by Bob Dylan or gooned by Max Geldray

Claude Garden Monsieur, you Satie on a Harmonica?

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