My Home is on the Mountain

About the Book: Discography

I wanted to be as well-acquainted with the music in MY HOME IS ON THE MOUNTAIN as are the characters in the book. This meant steeping myself in violin, in old-time music of the 1920s and earlier, in popular songs, jazz, and Tin-Pan Alley music (which I already was familiar with to some extent), Sacred Harp (also known as fasola or shape note singing), and classical piano. I concentrated, where they were available, on recordings made at the time, and also expanded my listening, for pleasure and to educate myself. I learned a lot, and what a gift! For those who are interested in my take on what I was listening to, I offer my list of recordings and my thoughts on them.

Given that violin had to dominate my listening, my list of violin recordings is fairly long, I have made a separate page for them. See 🎻 Violin Discography

Old-Time and Folk-Song

Compilation
CLASSIC AFRICAN-AMERICAN BALLADS
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2006)
[A wide-ranging sampler from the vast Smithsonian collection of African-American music. They also provide short samples online: African-American Ballads.]
Compilation
CLASSIC MOUNTAIN SONGS FROM SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2002)
[This collection from the Smithsonian library includes familiar singers and musicians, such as Jean Ritchie, Sam McGee, and Doc Watson, as well as performers less well known today. These recordings were made from the 1950s onward by performers who were often in their later years. Some were new compositions of the time, some date to the 19th century. Performers always evolve, so a song played in, say, 1960 will be different from that sung in 1920, even by the same performer. Nevertheless, when Airey speaks of and plays old-time, that included the music here. Listen to short samples: Mountain Songs.]
Compilation
CLASSIC OLD-TIME FIDDLE
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2007)
[A sampler from the southern Appalachias. String bands and solo fiddle. Short samples are provided online. Have a listen to the music that Airey grow up with: Old-Time Fiddle.]
Compilation
SOUNDS FROM APPALACHIA
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2013)
[The Smithsonian went through its archive to put together this collection of distinctive eastern Tennessee, Kentucky Appalachian sounds. They also provide the tracks to enjoy online: East Tennessee Harp Singers. This is a great album. It does include music Airey would not have known, e.g. bluegrass, which was created about ten years after the story is set.]
Ritchie, Jean
BALLADS
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2003)
[The Smithsonian Folkway library seems to have begun releasing CDs from the collection around the turn of the century, which was fortunate for me. Ritchie hails from the Cumberland region of Tennessee. This collection is Ritchie singing the Child Ballads, that is, the ballads collected by Francis James Child in the late 1800s in England and Scotland. Some of these are medieval in origin, some later, but all are old. When music historians came to the Appalachias and other places where the Scots-Irish had settled in the mid-1700s (that is not Elizabethan, but a good 150 years later), they realised that these same songs had been brought to and preserved in these regions, sometimes just as they were in Britain, sometimes much changed. Still, these songs are full of knights and lords and ladies. Ritchie has a very appealing voice. Short audio samples: Jean Ritchie.]

Fasola (also called Sacred Harp or shape-note)

Anonymous 4
AMERICAN ANGELS: SONGS OF HOPE, REDEMPTION, & LOVE
(Harmonia Mundi, 2007)
[Anonymous 4 are far better known for their medieval music, so I was delighted that they turned to shape-note singing, as shape-note is always sung in four "voices", and the Anonymous 4 are, as the name suggests, four singers. Their sound is not what you might hear if you go to a shape-note festival, but it is a lovely interpretation.]
Compilation
SACRED HARP SINGING
(The Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture, 1998 c1943)
[This collection is taken from the Library of Congress holdings. These tracks were recorded by the legendary song-collector Alan Lomax in 1942, and the notes with this disc reproduce his accopanying notes for the 1943 release. These recordings were made mostly in Alabama, and some in Georgia.]
Old Harp Singers of Eastern Tennessee
OLD HARP SINGING
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, c1951)
[The shape-note singing of the area of my story was influenced not by the Sacred Harp publication but the Harp of Columbia song book (both began in the 1840s). The recordings on this disc were collected in Sevierville and Maryville, so exactly on target. The album, as with all Smithsonian albums, can be purchased as a disc or as downloads. They also provide audio samples. Go to Eastern Tennessee Harp Singers if you want to hear what sort of music Mrs Griggs sang.]
The Sacred Harp Publishing Company
ORIGINAL SACRED HARP
(Morning Trumpet Recordings, 1997 c1965, 1966)
[Two records from the 1960s are included on this disc. The Sacred Harp was the name of the book of songs printed and circulated in the 1800s. It was a commercial enterprise, and continued into the 20th century. The company made a series of records, of which this disc features two, created in a studio. Shape-note singing is a community activity, but behind it was always more than one company encouraging it. The "sacred quartets" that feature in so many revival or country-and-western shows derive from the four-man groups sent our by publishers to sing and thus publicise the songs they sold.]
Wilson Chapel
150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CHATTAHOOCHEE SACRED HARP SINGING CONVENTION
(2nd2Nunn Recording Studio, 2002)
[The 150th session of this Sacred Harp convention was recorded, which was such a fantastic idea, for now we have preserved this long regional tradition. This two-disc set gives us fifty songs, with the singers first singing the fa-so-la melody, following with the words. As the songs fit the words from many hymns, you could mix and match, making this repertoire flexible, although some verses became wedded to certain melodies. I like the Wilson Chapel recordings because the voices are a rich and strong blend, with no one singer standing out (as it should be).]

Modern

Compilation
CLASSIC LABOR SONGS
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2006)
[A good collection of the protest, union and activist songs from the 20th century. Most of the words are still relevant today. Listen to short samples online: Labor Songs.]
Giaroli, Susi
ASSORTED MELODIES
(Online)
[Giaroli is an Italian composer of short melodies. Her usual instrument is a concertina, I believe. I don't know why her music seemed right for a story based in in the USA in 1931, but such are the mysteries of music. Her tune Mist-covered Mountains attracted me because of the title and I keep following her around various platforms on the internet. My other favorites of hers are Il Pentolone and Carolan's Air. You can hear some of them on her SoundCloud channel.]
Giddens, Rhiannon
BLACK AS CROW from album THEY'RE CALLING ME HOME
(Nonsuch Records, 2021)
[I have been a fan of Giddens for a some years now and was thrilled to be able to see her in concert in London. This album came out just as I was working on the final pre-publication tasks, so it did not form any part of my soundscape while I was writing the book, but when I heard it as the first song on Giddens COVID lock-down video on YouTube, it really hit me as capturing so much of Cecilia's emotions. I actually prefer her YouTube version to this "official" one, as I like the simpler version with banjo and violin only, but that being said, this is both wrenching and beautiful. Hear the YouTube version (first song).]
McGoldrick, Michael
WATERBOUND from album AURORA
(Vertical Records, 2010)
[McGoldrick is an English musician who plays flute and bodhrán among many other instruments. He is not exactly a folk singer and not exactly not, in that he plays Celtic rock. I heard Waterbound, by Louisiana composer Dirk Powell, on this album and the mood of it struck me as in sympathy with Airey's feelings following the close of the story. The fiddler on this track is absolutely superb. Listen on YouTube.]

Piano

Andsnes, Leif Ove
BRAHMS. Drei Intermezzi
(EMI, 1997)
[The disc's main offering is the superlative piano concerto no. 1, but Andsnes added the intermezzo trio to bulk up the disc, and these solo piano pieces are played beautifully. His tempi are unusual, but he convinces me.]
Ashkenazy, Vladimir
CHOPIN. Favorite Chopin
(Decca, 1997 c1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982)
[When I was a college student, I decided that I ought to expand my cultural horizon by buying more music, and one of my first records was Askenazy playing Chopin. Over the many years since, I am almost able to play these in my head, so familiar are they to me. Nevertheless, I cannot claim to be a fangirl of Chopin. Hard to say why; these are beautiful pieces. Maybe I just resist the top ten of anything.]
Brendel, Alfred
SCHUBERT. The Complete Impromptus; Moments Musicaux
(Decca, 1997 c1972, 1974, 1975)
[I am picky about Brendel. Sometimes I think he gives us the definitive versions, if such things exist (I think sometimes they do, at least for a single generation), sometimes I am "meh". His Schubert I quite like. The six Moments Musicaux are some of the music Cecilia plays on the evening after she has met Airey for the first time.]
Duo Genova and Dimitrov
BACH, J. C. Complete Works for Piano Four Hands
(CPO, 2003)
[Cecilia played four-hand piano (two people playing one piano, side-by-side) first with her mother, and then her brothers, but most especially her brother Tom. I might be a little a-historical by hearing Howisons playing Bach's son's four-hand pieces, but these would have been available, and would have been a nice change from the Romantics, such as Brahms.]
Duo Tal & Groethuysen
BRAHMS. Hungarian Dances, Waltzes, for Piano, Four Hands
(Sony, 1993)
[Although these don't feature in the story, I knew that Cecilia and her brother Tom often played "four hands" piano pieces that is, two people playing the same piano. Cecilia is the better player, but Tom is slightly older, so they made a good team and enjoyed doing this, and it is one of the reasons they are close. I also happen to rerally like the Hungarian Dances in any form: four hands, violin and piano, fully orchestrated. I'd like them on a kazoo and tennis racquet.]
Feltsman, Vladimir
BACH. English Suites Nos. 1-6
(Nimbus, 2012)
[Bach's English Suites are early compositions. Originally they would not have been played on the piano, as that had not been invented when he wrote these, but Cecilia plays them on piano, so I wanted to hear what they sounded like. Feltzman has a slightly Romantic touch, which I think is in keeping with the piano style of the 1920s and 1930s.]
Giesking, Walter
DEBUSSY. The Piano Works
(Warner, 2011 c1953, 1954, 1955)
[Recorded over 1951-1955, these recordings by the legendary pianist Gieseking have to be some of the best interpretations one can have. Although we do not see Cecilia play Debussy, she certainly does, and well enough for her teacher, Mrs Vernelle, to have wondered if she might have the making of something more than an amateur.]
Gilels, Emil
BRAHMS. Die Klavierkonzerte, Fantasien
(Deutsche Grammophon, 1996 c1972, 1976) Berliner Philharmoniker (cond. Jochum)
[I bought this for the two piano concertos (the no. 1 is my fave) and then saw, when I wanted to listen to the music Cecilia plays, the Fantasies (op 116), so I was thrilled. The first one is all turmoil and restlessness, which I think expresses Cecilia's mentality nicely. Gilels plays all of these so thoughtfully and feelingly.]
Gilels, Emil
MEDTNER. Forgotten Melodies
(Melodiya, 1996)
[Gilels plays the first of the suite, the Sonata Reminiscenza, among a rag-tag collection of sonatas and pieces from ten different composers. His version, although beautifully played, is not to me as compelling as Hamelin's (see below).]
Grosvenor, Benjamin
CHOPIN. LISZT. RAVEL. Piano Sonatas K. 331, 332, 333
(Mirare, 2019)
[Cecilia would naturally, as an accomplished amateur pianist, play scads of Chopin, and so I got this disc to listen to a young person (man) playing Chopin, as I have plenty more by older masters. Grosvenor gives us one of the few Liszt pieces I can (barely) stand, plus Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, which has become something I look forward to listening to.]
Hamelin, Marc-André
MEDTNER. The Complete Piano Sonatas
(Hyperion, 1996)
[Forgotten Melodies (Op. 39) is the reason I got this disc, and the first of these, often played as a stand-alone (being a theme and variations) is what Cecilia plays in the evening when she has returned from the devastation that is the Fitch farm, in 1932. I find the music heartbreaking, especially as played by Hamelin.]
Kempff, Wilhelm
BRAHMS. Fantasien, Intermezzi, Klavierstëcke
(Deutsche Grammophon/Galleria, 1992 c1964)
[I am devoted to Kempff and I cannot lie. I think these Brahms pieces are wonderful, although I think Schubert and Schumann suit better his infinitely tender and nuanced soul. These are op. 116, 117, 118, and 119, and Cecilia plays her favourites among these in a restless selection right after she has left the Fitch farm on the day the Siffville Settlement were there, and while she is obviously not a virtuoso as is Kempff, I hear her in his music.]
Kempff, Wilhelm
SCHUBERT. Piano sonatas, Moments Musicaux, Impromptus
(Deutsche Grammophon, 1998 c1965 1967)
[Extraordinary. His Scherzando from Impromptus D935 has to be my favourite. That last descent! Oh my gosh.]
Kempff, Wilhelm
SCHUMANN. Kinderszenen, Waldszenen, Papillons, Three Romances
(Deutsche Grammophon, 199? c1967, 1973, 1974)
[This is the set of recordings (here on one packaged CD, as happened a lot at the peak of the CD market, when recording companies could get another squeeze or two from older fruit) that made me fall in love with the solo piano and with Schumann's work. The almost indescribable delicacy, nuance, and insight Kempff brings makes these constant wonders.]
Kovacevich, Stephen
BRAHMS. Klavierstëcke, Fantasien, Intermezzi
(Philips, 1985)
[Kovacevich was an unknown performer to me, as I was not much into piano, but because Cecilia (and Mrs Vernelle) play it, I had to learn to listen. Having learned, I expanded my collection, and came across this. I am a huge Brahms worshipper, so having a pianist of this skill playing the Fantasies and Intermezzos showed me what I had been missing all my life. Kovacevich studied under Myra Hess.]
Lane, Piers
MOSCHELES. Complete Concert Studies
(Helios, 2011)
[As a young man, Moscheles was a friend of Beethoven. He later lived in London and Leipzig and had a busy career in Europe, where he became friends with Mendelssohn. He performed, composed, and taught. He championed the solo piano recital and also helped revive interest in the harpsichord. His music is very much of his time, romantic, sometimes inspired, always attractive. He defended his friends (and himself) from Wagner's anti-Semitism. So a good friend, a busy and productive man, and his music is very intelligently played here by Piers Lane.]
Perahia, Murray
BACH. The English Suites
(Sony, 2008)
[Perahia is hailed as a leading interpreter of Bach who brings out the emotion in this composer who sometimes (although this is hard to believe, if you listen to Bach for more than two seconds) is thought more mathematical than emotional. I have had the honour of seeing Perahia live in concert.]
Perahia, Murray
SCHUBERT. Impromptus D. 899 and 935
(Sony, 1992 c1980, 1982)
[Perahia is better known as a Bach interpreter, but I wanted to hear his approach with Schubert, especially in the Allegro Scherzando of the Impromptu op. 142 (D 935). If this piece does not make you smile, are you even human? Perhaia's is a stronger approach than, say, Kempff's, but still viable. No showing off just to show off.]
Pires, Maria João
BACH. BEETHOVEN. BRAHMS. CHOPIN. MOZART. SCHUBERT. "The Maria João Pires Collection I: Complete Solo Recordings.
(EMI, 1997)
[Twenty discs, but they hold treasures. The Brahms and Schubert are the stand-outs for me. There's lots of Chopin as well, but Chopin doesn't turn my crank that much.]
Pires, Maria João
SCHUMANN. Kinderszenen, Waldszenen, Bunte Blätter
(Apex, 2003 c1985)
[Much as I love Kempff, I think it is good to remember that there is no one definitive way to play any piece fo music. Pires brings a different focus, what I feel as a sort of beautifully-kept forest of music she walks us through, with its shafts of light and pools of cool shade. Pires is famous for one much-shared spectacular music moment (YouTube).]
Queffélec, Anne
MOZART. Piano Sonatas K. 331, 332, 333
(Mirare, 2019)
[A late addition to my collection of piano recordings, but ever since Cecilia revealed to me how much more piano I needed to hear, I have been buying on every recommendation. Queffélec is one of the great performers; I didn't need to be told that, as one merely has to listen to these, so finely understood as the light barques they are, and yet they float on a deep sea of genius.]
Rév, Lívia
MENDELSSOHN. Songs Without Words
(Hyperion, 1997)
[All of Mendelssohn's Songs Withour Words is like having some small lovely European city all to your own. Easy to play, hard to play well (Rév plays them very well indeed), these would have been Cecilia's companions through her girlhood, as everyone would want to hear them, so perfect for playing to family and friends, and she always enjoyed quiet hours alone with them.]
Richter, Sviatoslav
GRIEG. SCHUMANN. Piano Concertos, Papillons
(EMI, 2003 c1963, 1975)
[I had this disc for the Grieg—if one is going to have the Greig piano concerto, have it played by one of the greates pianists of the 20th century— and the Schumann was an equal draw. I include this recording here because of Schumann's Papillons ("Butterflies"), because Cecilia plays it, and because "butterfly" itself runs through the story.]
Staier, Andreas, with Alexander Melnikov
SCHUBERT. Fantasie in F minor and Other Piano Duets
(Harmonia Mundi, 2017)
[Part of my further listening in the repertoire of "four hand" pieces for piano, that is, two people sharing a piano bench and getting the most out of those 88 keys, as young Tom and Cecilia would have done.]
Vogt, Lars
SCHUMANN. Piano Concerto
(BBC, 2007 c1996)
[I am sneaking this disc onto the list because it is one of Cecilia's favourites. And mine too: what a coincidence! Vogt here plays scrumptiously well. The disc also includes Schumann's Symphony No. 2. The orchestra is the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (cond. Brabbins), who are excellent throughout, as are most European radio orchestras.]

Orchestral and Other Concert Music

Ax, Emmanuel, Pamela Frank, Yo-Yo Ma, Eva Osinska
CHOPIN. Works for cello, piano, and violin
(Sony, 1994)
[I bought this disc for Chopin's Trio for violin, cello and piano in G minor, op. 8, as I wanted a bit more of the violinist Pamela Frank, but mainly because this is the piece Cecilia is practising in Washington D.C. with her father's administrative assistant (cello) and his wife (violin). The disc is really for Ax, a great pianist I have had the pleasure to hear playing live twice, and Yo-Yo Ma, the cellist.]
Consone Quartet
HAYDN. MENDELSSOHN. String quartets, Four Pieces
(Ambronay, 2018)
[An attractive set of two string quartets, one each by Haydn (op. 77, no. 1) and Mendelssohn (op. 12), plus a third helping of Mendelssohn (op. 81). A young quartet, supported in making this disc by a European initiative to support emerging young musicians, which I think is great.]
Dante Quartet
SIBELIUS. SMETANA. String Quartets
(Hyperion, 2011)
[There is a lot of earlier music (baroque and classical) in my story, and I wanted to here more of the later 19th century and also more from Krysia Osostowicz, the first violin in this quartet, because I think she's very good.]
Engegård Quartet
MOZART. String Quartets dedicated to Haydn (K. 421, 428, 465)
(LAWQ Classics, 2019)
[The cover of the DC has the quartet, who hail from Norway, wearing winter coats and hats. Fun! The idea of collecting the quartets Mozart dedicated to Hayden is a deligthful one, and these are delightfully played. Much sparkling, no ice involved!]
Fourth Dimension String Quartet
GOLDMARK. String Quartet, String Quintet
(ASV, 1999)
[In my quest to envelop myself in the music Cecilia would know, and Airey would come to know, I explored the works for violin beyond sonatas and concertos. Given that Goldmark plays a central role in the story, I thought I would try his pieces for smaller ensembles, and liked them. Very nice playing throughout.]
London Haydn Quartet
HAYDN. String Quartets op. 54 and 55
(Hyperion, 2017)
[Haydn spent some time, after being captive composer for his aristocratic employer, writing for the popular market, and his quartets sold like hot-cakes. These on this disc favour the violins, especially the first violin, very much, so I know they appealed to Airey.]
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (cond. McGegan)
CORELLI. Concerti Grossi Op. 6 No.s 1-6
(Harmonia Mundi, 1989)
[I offer another, earlier, recording of the Corelli, which features in the story, on my page about the book, but I listened to several different versions as well. The earlier one, which I "hear" as similar to the one played in the story, was played on modern instruments, these are on baroque instruments. Interesting to compare the spare and learned modern approach with the older, romantic, and rather appealing one. Both are fine pieces of music.]
Quartetto Eleusi
NARDINI. Complete String Quartets
(Brilliant, 2013)
[These very short quartets (some have only two movements—pocket quartets, you might call them) are attractive and sometimes little gems.]

See also: Violin Discography

 


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