Robert Hughes

Ego Scriptor Cantilenae: The Music of Ezra Pound

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Only a tone deaf listener could get through this disc because as far as it is possible to tell, it was written by a tone deaf composer. Even those who knew and loved the great modernist poet acknowledged that Ezra Pound could not carry a tune in a bucket and this recording of performances of his music proves it.

Okay, the Fiddle Music isn't too bad, just an incoherent string of banalities and clichés and not so much unlistenable as simply boring, and Al poco giorno isn't too bad, just a doodling strain of vaguely melancholy scraps and saws that takes only about a minute to get on your nerves. But whenever Pound is setting the poetry of Villon or Cavalcanti or anybody else, he is just about unlistenable because whatever his virtues as a poet and a scholar, Pound was profoundly amusical. His melodies meander pointlessly, his sense of rhythm is either simple or nonexistent, his harmonies are either primitive or nonexistent, and his sense of form is simply nonexistent. To call Pound's "music" music is to use the word in its loosest possible definition, as an intentional sequence of noises.

Robert Hughes is no doubt a dedicated conductor of Pound's music, the various players are no doubt doing their best, and the various singers are no doubt doing what they're supposed to do and the sounds that come out of their mouths are probably not entirely their fault. Other Minds' sound is clear and vivid.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Le Testament de François Villon, opera in 1 act
1 0:18
2 2:00
3 8:05
4
feat: Sandra Bush
3:36
5
feat: Philip Booth
5:26
6 8:48
Fiddle Music, first suite for solo violin
7
feat: Nathan Rubin
0:31
8
feat: Nathan Rubin
0:28
9
feat: Nathan Rubin
0:20
10
feat: Nathan Rubin
0:29
11
feat: Nathan Rubin
0:38
12
feat: Nathan Rubin
0:46
13
feat: Nathan Rubin
6:05
Cavalcanti, opera in 3 acts
14
feat: David Cox
1:56
15 2:05
16 1:29
17 0:44
18 2:26
19 5:57
20 6:08
21
feat: Nathan Rubin
2:03
Collis O Heliconii (Carmen LXI), for baritone, violin & bassoon
22
feat: Nathan Rubin
4:51
23
feat: Nathan Rubin
0:33
blue highlight denotes track pick