Stevie Wonder, Weill’s Threepenny Opera and the Proms

It’d be easy to make excuses for not doing much real blogging of late, but I won’t. I haven’t been holding onto the six listens rule quite as much this year and I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time with music by 10 or so bands/musicians who have had quite enough written about them by more knowledgeable people already, so I’ll only scratch the surface.

About 18 months ago, I broke the bad habit of a lifetime and finally listened to Stevie Wonder. I started with Innervisions, and continued this spring to work through the rest of his Best (according to Google) Few Albums. Those months didn’t quite match the all-encompassing Prince phase of ’08, but he’s made some great albums. Nothing beats Innervisions, though.

I spent a lot of time with Nina Simone during the same period, starting from her dramatic live recording of ‘Pirate Jenny’ from Weill’s Threepenny Opera, versions of which I’d been working through voraciously throughout the winter. My passion for that work returned last week, when I took an extended lunch break from work for the BBC Chamber Prom by all-Norwegian all-female brass dectet tenThing. I mostly wanted to see their version of a suite of eight songs from the Opera, which is embedded below.

The BBC deserve lots of credit for putting so much from this year’s Proms (the lunchtime ones, at least) on YouTube in addition to the time-limited iPlayer option. Last year’s most memorable Prom experience – Bernstein’s messy but spectacular MASS – can barely be found online, apart from a couple of small extracts on YouTube, which is a real shame.

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