TNB Night Owl — OCD Jukebox: Frédéric Chopin’s “Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-Sharp minor, Op. 66”

Jukebox. Photo by liz west.

Yes, my Blender friends, tonight/this morning we’ll be diving hip-deep into culture, with a capital “C.” Now, don’t panic! This is pretty accessible stuff.

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) composed for the piano during what’s known as the Romantic period of classical music. You’re probably already familiar with some of his work, like the Minute Waltz, or the Funeral March, along with the Barry Manilow classic Could It Be Magic, which borrows part of its melody from Prelude in C minor, Opus 28, No. 20— that’s all just a tiny taste of Chopin. And this piece, Fantaisie- Impromptu, you may have heard at least part of it, too.

What sent me down this particular rabbit hole was a video of Neil Sedaka appearing on the popular-at-the-time game show “I’ve Got a Secret,” where Sedaka demonstrates his tremendous skill as a classical pianist near the end of the clip. If his pop career hadn’t panned out, he could’ve been big on the classical concert stage. Who knew?

And thus, this OCD Jukebox commences. I’m going to post a video of the entire piece, this time performed by pianist Evgeny Kissin. This recording was done at a competition, so there’s a little audience noise near the end.

If you’ve listened to the videos so far, you noticed there are two distinct sections, a fast opening and then a slower portion. So I’m going to divide the remainder of this post into three groups; the first being covers of the entire piece, the second group is only the fast section, and the third group is the “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” slow section.

Entire Piece Covers:

Harp performance by Alexander Boldachev

Duet for piano and flute, Denis Bouriakov (flute), Naoko Ishibashi (piano)

Two classical guitars, performed by Stansilav Hvartchilkov and Roberto Moron Perez. Arranged by Stansilav Hvartchilkov.

Orchestral version, arranged and conducted by Carmen Dragon, with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony, from a 1950s recording

Now we get into complete covers done in really different styles. First up is Antony Morato, on electric guitar.

To close out this grouping, we have SESI Bigband, conducted by EUGÉNIO GRAÇA doing their Latin jazz version:

Faster Portion Only Covers:

Kyle Landry version with variations (which start around 1:10)

Victor Demange Jazz-ragtime version

Jacob Koller’s more traditional jazz arrangement (this has an ending flourish of the slower section of Chopin’s piece)

“I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” slow section covers:

In 1917, the song I’m Always Chasing Rainbows was published, credited as music by Harry Carroll and lyrics by Joseph McCarthy. (No, not this Joseph McCarthy.) The song was used in the 1918 musical, Oh, Look! and performed by the Dolly Sisters. Sadly, I couldn’t find a recording of them performing the song.

Early recording from 1918, appearing on an album called “Songs of WWI”, vocalist Charles W. Harrison.

Possibly the most famous recording of this song is by Judy Garland, who performed it in the MGM film, Ziegfeld Girl.

Puddles Pity Party (The Clown with the Golden Voice) performs his cover in a tribute to Alice Cooper’s version:

There are plenty of other covers by various vocalists like Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Alice Cooper, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Della Reese, Mandy Patinkin, Harry Nilsson, Debbie Reynolds, Liberace (with Dinah Shore), Tony Bennett, Julie Andrews, Bing Crosby, and The Four Freshmen, among others. (Yes, all of those are links to each singer’s version.)

Let’s switch now to jazz/big band style, with this version from Benny Goodman, with vocal by Helen Forrest.

A different big band arrangement, this one from Harry James, with vocal by Buddy DeVito.

An instrumental only, more traditional jazz style, from the Ignasi Terraza Trio, featuring Josep Maria Farràs.

A very swingin’ cover by Take 6, from the Glengarry Glen Ross soundtrack, an a cappella jazz, be-bop arrangement.

Parody version from Voices of California in the barbershop quartet style.

I’ll close out this OCD Jukebox, where we started, with a Neil Sedaka performance from 1995, which combines both his pop and classical prowess:

Hope you enjoyed this edition of OCD Jukebox. Let me know which version was your favorite! As always, this is an open thread, so feel free to discuss whatever you’d like in the comments below.

And remember: this week’s film noir movie is “High Tide,” a story about two people trapped in a car that’s careened off a cliff, recounting the events that brought them to this point as the rising tide threatens to drown them. You won’t want to miss it! Join me Sunday at noon so we can discuss it!

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