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S J Birkill
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Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« : 09.02.07 at 16:01 »
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Newsletter readers will recognise the name -- Simon is the composer and pianist we look forward to seeing with Pete at the Bristol St George's midsummer concert. The song A Magician's Confession was written by Simon together with his long-term songwriting partner, veteran beat poet, singer and lyricist Fran Landesman. Read about Simon's work with Fran and with Sarah Moule on his MySpace page.
 
Once there, you can listen to a demo of the song, sung by one Pete Atkin. Fran has reportedly taken quite a shine to Pete's style, so we may hear more.
 
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Mike Walters
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #1: 10.02.07 at 14:50 »
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Quite wonderful, and I hope we do hear more.  I've always thought that Pete's talents as an interpreter of others' songs are, well, undersung.  
 
Very fine song, too. There's a small but select genre of magician songs with a loosely similar theme - off-hand, I can think of Warren Zevon's 'For My Next Trick I'll Need a Volunteer' and our own Andy Victor's 'Disappearing Act', a terrific song which should be heard if only (but not only) for the number of rhymes he finds for 'act'.  
 
Regards
 
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naomi
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #2: 12.02.07 at 15:19 »
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Yes, superb stuff !
 
... and I'd like to explore whether I can add these songs to my own repertoire.
 
Incidentally, like the lovely song "A Magician's Confession" that Pete renders so poignantly, one of the Bertolt Brecht poems that is in my song repertoire as set by Kurt Weill, "Nannas Lied" (which was also set by Hanns Eisler), also refers to François Villon's "snows of yesteryear"- although of course in German:  
"Wo sind die Tränen von gestern abend?/Wo ist der Schnee vom vergangenen Jahr?"
 
Also incidentally: I had a memorable night back in 2005 when I was privileged to be on the same bill as Ms Landesman !!
It was a cabaret-club in London - packed with people who had come to hear her read her poems. (I sang a couple of Stephen Sondheim numbers.) Ms Landesman's son's band also played.
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #3: 13.02.07 at 10:24 »
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Naomi wrote:  
 
Quote:
one of the Bertolt Brecht poems that is in my song repertoire as set by Kurt Weill, "Nannas Lied" (which was also set by Hanns Eisler), also refers to François Villon's "snows of yesteryear"- although of course in German:  
"Wo sind die Tränen von gestern abend?/Wo ist der Schnee vom vergangenen Jahr?"

These two lines, in Leonard Lehrman's translation, are rendered as "Where are the teardrops of only last night?/Where are the snows of yesteryear?"
 
One should put those lines into context by saying the singer is not  regretting the transience of things. Quiet the opposite. The first two lines of the  refrain run "Gott sei Dank geht alles schnell vorüber/ Auch die Liebe und der Kummer sogar." which Lehrman translates as "God be praised, it's always over quickly,/all that love, and the grief, and the fear."
 
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naomi
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #4: 13.02.07 at 17:04 »
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At the risk of going far off-topic, the musical settings tell me something rather different about Nannas Lied, Kevin.
 
Kurt Weill's bitter-sweet music, as so often, carries ambivalence and irony: I interpret it as carrying regret at youth and years lost to inevitable hardship. (Perhaps the date of the song's composition for Lotte Lenya: December 1939 - and in US refuge from Nazi Germany -  adds to this.)  
By the way, although Lenya loved the song, I gather that she never sung it. I first heard it in the recording that was made by the Canadian soprano Teresa Stratas in 1981 after Lenya offered her a collection of unpublished Weill songs.
 
Then again, in her interpretation, the very great German mezzo Brigitte Fassbaender gives the protagonist of the Weill Nannas Lied a cynical laugh and the shrug of realism.  
 
As for Hanns Eisler's setting, it has a rueful smile and a certain tenderness while of course never lasping into sentimentality.  
 
Eisler's setting was one of the songs written for Brecht's play The Round Heads and the Pointed Heads - premiered in Copenhagen in 1936 - whereas Weill's was written as a one-off song (as I say, a present for Lenya) after the also-exiled Brecht sent him the poem.
 
My apologies, Mr Birkill: I have indeed strayed far off-topic. But as an aficionado of Brecht, Weill and Eisler I could not resist putting my oar in (again) !!
 
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Ian Chippett
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #5: 13.02.07 at 20:17 »
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Naomi wrote:
 
<<I have indeed strayed far off-topic. But as an aficionado of Brecht, Weill and Eisler I could not resist putting my oar in (again) !! >>
 
Perhaps not as far as all that: I seem to remember reading Clive on Brecht somewhere or other and he was rather unfavourable. God knows where I read this: maybe one of his books of essays? Anyone know?
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #6: 13.02.07 at 22:00 »
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Hi Ian,
 
When, in October 2005, he and Peter Porter did a series of three Book Talk programmes about poetry for Australia’s ABC Radio National Clive had this to say about Brecht:
 
Quote:
I loathe Brecht. I learned to loathe Brecht watching his interminable, dreary ideological plays, and then I transferred my loathing to his poetry, and he devoted himself to poetry all his life. But loathing his poetry was a bit harder than loathing his plays because these phrases kept popping out, and this is where the poet really scores; a poet can actually say something that even his enemies are forced to admit is well said, and Brecht could do it. There was one phrase, ‘I am at home in the asphalt city’, ‘In der Asphaltstadt bin ich daheim’, and I looked at that and it went into my head like a bullet and stayed there…if a bullet can stay and fester, it did. I’ve had many cases where a repugnant writer has said something that I can’t get out of my head, and that’s part of your education. I suppose one of the things that you aspire to do is to write something that people have to remember even though they would rather not.

Is that what you had in mind?
 
If you are interested in the contents of the three programmes, broadcast weekly from the 1st of October 2005, you’ll find the transcripts here.
 
Kevin Cryan
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #7: 14.02.07 at 06:29 »
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Kevin (and Clive) wrote:
 
<< Quote:I loathe Brecht. I learned to loathe Brecht watching his interminable, dreary ideological plays, and then I transferred my loathing to his poetry, and he devoted himself to poetry all his life. But loathing his poetry was a bit harder than loathing his plays because these phrases kept popping out, and this is where the poet really scores; a poet can actually say something that even his enemies are forced to admit is well said, and Brecht could do it. There was one phrase, ‘I am at home in the asphalt city’, ‘In der Asphaltstadt bin ich daheim’, and I looked at that and it went into my head like a bullet and stayed there…if a bullet can stay and fester, it did. I’ve had many cases where a repugnant writer has said something that I can’t get out of my head, and that’s part of your education. I suppose one of the things that you aspire to do is to write something that people have to remember even though they would rather not.  
 
Is that what you had in mind? >>
 
Thanks for the link!
 
Something like that but I think it was a lot earlier in his career.
 
Ian C
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #8: 14.02.07 at 09:05 »
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I've just got around to listening to A Magician's Confession, and it's superb. The highest compliment I can think of is that it sounds as if it could have been written by Messrs Atkin and James. I look forward to hearing more, and to learn more about the project he refers to involving our heroes (is there any more info on this?)
 
I followed the link from Simon Wallace's page to Sarah Moule, and she sounds pretty good too. Then there was a link to...  Grin
 
I wish I had more time to look around Myspace properly - I'm sure there must be loads of brilliant artists lurking in there, just waiting to be discovered...
 
Cheers
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #9: 14.02.07 at 12:02 »
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Paul,
 
If you enjoyed Pete & Sarah performances, then I guess that  Nicki Leighton-Thomas's Forbidden Games, a terrific collection of Landesman and Wallace songs originally issued by Babel (B9822) but now on Candid (CCD 79778), will be right up your street.
 
Sarah Moule (who, by the by, is married to Simon Wallace) has six Landesman and Wallace and one Landesman and Wolf compositions on her Something's Gotta Give album.  
 
The remainder of the 14 tracks is devoted to songs which the great Johnny Mercer either wrote on his own or with various musical partners such as Harry Warren (Jeepers Creepers)and Henry Mancini (The Days of Wine and Roses). In other words, the Landesman/Wallace songs have to be good because have very stiff competition for the listener's attention. Mercer is, in my humble opinion, one of the great songwriters of the twentieth century. He sets the benchmark by which others may be judged, so it says a lot about the quality of Landesman/Wallace that they never sound out of place.  
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #10: 14.02.07 at 14:44 »
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There is a second album of Landesman-Wallace songs by Nicki Leighton-Thomas entitled Damned If I Do. Agreed on both A Magician's Confession and Sarah Moule, whose stuff I have downloaded from Linn Records.  
 
Talking of smart songs, anyone heard of John Bucchino?
 
Hope to see some of you in Brizzle in June.
 
Greetings from chilly Wisconsin.
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #11: 14.02.07 at 15:55 »
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Keith,
 
Sorry, I should have made things little clearer and said that Damned If I Do is not actually a second album. Damned If I Do was the Babel title of a collection that became Forbidden Games when it transferred to Candid.  
 
Both albums have the same tracks, but I'm pretty certain they appear in a radically different order. I know, without looking, that the first track on Damned If I Do is Nicki's Dilemma and on Forbidden Games, it is (for rather oobvious reasons) the song that gives the album its title.
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #12: 14.02.07 at 16:06 »
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Contents of both albums as per amazon.co.uk are indeed identical and differently ordered.
 
Thanks, Kevin.
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #13: 14.02.07 at 21:27 »
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Keith,
 
Because I was working wholly from memory of what albums I had around me, I’d completely forgotten Sarah Moule’s debut album It’s a Nice Thought a collection of fourteen, mostly new, Landesman and Wallace songs on Linn (AKD192) produced by Simon Wallace.  
 
It was an impressive debut album that elicited some very good reviews ftom the likes of John Fordham of the Guardian. In November 2002 The Independent’s Roger Trapp spoke for many when he wrote approvingly that “Sarah Moule is a relative newcomer, but her collection of songs by Fran Landesman, It's a Nice Thought, displays a veteran's assurance."  
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #14: 15.02.07 at 21:44 »
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Is there any chance of getting an MP3 of A Magician's Confession for the MV archive?
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #15: 14.03.07 at 14:04 »
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Does anyone (i.e., Pete) know if any of the Wallace-Landesman songs have been published? Google produces no results. I am coming to like very much the Nicki Leighton-Thomas album and the two Sarah Moule CDs. The middle section of "Scars" is driving me nuts. Is Nicki Leighton-Thomas still active? I love the voice. Kevin?
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #16: 14.03.07 at 22:03 »
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I'm pretty certain that none of the Landesman/Wallace compositions has been published in sheet form. I had thought when Niki Leighton-Thomas's Damned If I Do came out on Babel, its owner Oliver Weindling might have done something to make the songs available in sheet form. Weindeling had some songwriters on his books - Christine Tobin, for example - but none as good as, or as worthy of publication, as Landesman and Wallace  But in fact he didn't.  He gave the album next to no promotion, which may explain why it ended up on Candid.
 
It’s probably true to say that Oliver never does what's expected of him  For instance, a few years back the Babel website got so out of date that many of the new recordings he was supposed to be promoting were not even on it. Every time someone mentioned this, he'd just say that it was "being seen to" or that it was being "rebuilt". That was it.  And this went on for at least a year.  
 
Again, you may notice that the Babel biography of Tobin, an artist who is still recording for Babel and closely associated with his beloved The Vortex Jazz Club, of which he is a director,  has not been altered since 2005. To find out what she has been up to  recently, you have to her Myspace blog enteries. It gives the punter the impression that he just does not care. That does not seem to worry Oliver.  
 
Niki Leighton-Thomas has been out of circulation for a couple of years now. I really do not know why, although I have a suspicion that she may be taking time off to rear a family.  
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #17: 15.03.07 at 00:40 »
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Now there's a scholar's answer for you!
 
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Re: Simon Wallace - A Magician's Confession
« Reply #18: 17.03.07 at 22:01 »
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I have just noticed that Sarah Moule & Simon Wallace are booked to play the Vortex Club in London on Saturday 28th April (NB the venue has moved since the last time Pete played the Vortex ; it is now at 11 Gillett Street, London N16 8JH  tel 020 7254 4097 – the gig starts at 8.45pm tickets are £12 and no I’m not promoting/ associated with it  Smiley )  
 
and there will be Clive and Pete “material” in the show – below is the write up on the Vortex site  (www.vortexjazz.co.uk )
 
Sounds like one to catch for those within striking distance!
Seán
 
On her two highly-acclaimed albums for Linn records Sarah has done more than anyone to promote the songs of Fran Landesman and Simon Wallace – ‘One of the finest songwriting partnerships alive.’ (The Observer). In addition to the classic songbook repertoire expect new material from Julie Birchill, Clive James and Pete Atkin. Simon Wallace’s fresh and swinging arrangements highlight the breadth of talent. ’Honeyed in sound, subtle in timing and pitch, shrewd in weighting the music with meaning.’ (The Guardian)
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Magician's Confession
« Reply #19: 20.08.07 at 20:04 »
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Hope this is the correct place for this thread.
 
Go to Simon Wallace's myspace and click on Magician's Confession.
 
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=81 609503
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