Lovely Recordings Hosted by Jared Beebe (Part 2)

Working out in the bush (as we say in Canada) or in the field (as we say in the United States), I’ve found that I’ve spent quite a bit of time in a variety of landscapes, usually alone or perhaps with one other person. Many people believe that working alone out in the bush may not be a good thing, but I’ve found that it gives one time and space to think and notice the world around you without any background noise or distractions. I don’t think that being alone is necessarily a bad thing. So, here is some music that I think reflects the solitude of being out in the bush.

Copland: Billy the Kid & Rodeo, Andrew Litton conducting the Colorado Symphony (BIS, 2015)

This came two years ago about the same time as a similar Copland recording by John Wilson and the BBC Philharmonic, both are excellent, the BBC Philharmonic with a bit more spectacular sound. However, this one by Andrew Litton and the Colorado Symphony really captures the sense of being out in the desert or high plains (perhaps one has to be from out west to understand). The opening to Billy the Kid "Introduction – The Open Prairie" showing the bleached, pastel shades of the dry, desert landscape and terrible clarity of being out in the wild with nothing between you and your god but the blue bowl of the sky. Prairie Night is about the same but at night (obviously). Rodeo is just a lot of noise and fun.

Available from Presto Classical

Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works, Sir Mark Elder conducting the Hallé Orchestra (Hallé, 2014)

Vaughan Williams wrote this when he was serving as an ambulance driver in the First World War and to me at least, this is like watching a sunset alone on a hill in France. Lovely pastel tone colors, much like Ravel or Debussy, but with an English flavor. However one can sense there is quite a bit going on just below the surface of the music. This may be the best current version of the "Pastoral Symphony" by Vaughan Williams as well as the Tallis Fantasia (apparently the most popular piece of classical music in the UK).

Available from Presto Classical

Jimmy Webb: Ten Easy Pieces (Guardian Records, 1996)
Jimmy Webb plays Jimmy Webb on a piano; these are the versions of his classic songs that I like the best. This version of "Wichita Lineman" captures the feel of being out in the Great Plains perhaps better than any other pop song I know. "Galveston" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" are also my favorite versions of these songs and convey the sense of vastness of the Great Basin or High Plains as well.

Available from Tidal

Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball (Asylum Records, 1995)
Arguably the defining album by Emmylou Harris, every tune is tasty and all are distinctive, but I don’t think anyone could do them better. I’ve listened to this album constantly since I first bought it twenty years ago. The relevant song for this compilation of space and vastness is the last song "Waltz Across Texas, Tonight" written by Rodney Crowell. Every time I listen to this song, I find myself looking off into eternity or the plains of West Texas, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the two apart.

Available from HDtracks

Henry Mancini: Hatari! (RCA Victor, 1962)
The soundtrack from Hatari! has been one of my favorites since I first saw it as a child at a drive-in theater in Denver. It all seems very Hollywood but very African as well. The "Sounds of Africa" conveys the sound of driving across the veldt chasing a rhinoceros as well as anything I’ve heard. The best known piece is the "Baby Elephant Walk", which is great fun to listen to, imagine Claudia Cardinale chasing baby elephants in a small town in Kenya.

Available from Tidal

Beethoven: Symphonie No. 6/ Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Carlos Kleiber (Orfeo, 2011)
This is the only recording of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony by Carlos Kleiber. It’s a live recording taken from a backup cassette made by the composer’s son at the concert, so the sound is not wonderful, but the performance is. It’s one of the few that follows Beethoven’s markings and it’s very exciting with one of the best storms on record and it gets the feeling of being outside across better than any other, in my opinion. Carlos Kleiber always seemed to do better in live recordings than studio.

Available from Presto Classical (CD)

Ian Tyson: Old Corrals and Sagebrush & Other Cowboy Culture Classics (Vanguard, 1994)
Most cowboys are familiar with solitude and wide open spaces; that held true when I was doing gold exploration in Nevada in the late eighties and still appears to be true now. I started listening to Ian Tyson in then in the Great Basin because his music seemed to fit the Basin and Range of Nevada. This type of music may well be an acquired taste, but it seems to go well with wide open spaces.

Available from Tidal

Richard Rodgers: Victory at Sea Volume 1 (RCA Victor Red Seal, )
I remember listening to this growing up with my father in Denver, and watching the television show in the early fifties. The best known track "Song of the High Seas" evokes the feeling of being out by yourself on the ocean better than any other piece of music I know. The balance of the album is theme music for the campaigns of World War II, but is quite listenable. The Sound itself in from 1953, but doesn’t get in the way of the music.

Volumes 1, 2, and 3 available from Qobuz

Debussy: Stéphane Denève conducts Debussy (Chandos, 2012)
Another, more classic view of the ocean, this is my favorite copy of "La Mer". This doesn’t seem to be so much about being out on the ocean so much as watching it from the shore, but still lovely. This gets you all of Debussy in one fell swoop and it’s all just a good as "La Mer".

Available from Chandos

Various Artists: The Horse Whisperer (UMSM, 1998)
The film was pretty good, but I really enjoyed the soundtrack, especially Dwight Yoakam on "Cattle Call" and Emmylou Harris on "Soft Surprise". Once again, this is about people in small doses, and is obviously evocative of out west.

Available from Qobuz

Once again, I’m a precious metals exploration geologist, semi –retired, at least until the next boom. Most of my listening is done on a pair of Sennheiser HD 800 headphones and a Mytek - Stereo192 DSD DAC at home and a Sony Xperia Z2 telephone (DSD dac) and a pair of RHA s500 earphones.

See Jared's Lovely Recordings Part 1

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!

volvic's picture

As you state it is from a cassette copy as the original tape had deteriorated rapidly and could no longer be used. Thankfully we have it as the performance is remarkable. Never heard a 6th as beautiful as this and I own numerous copies. Love the list.

Anton's picture

I love "Lovely Recordings" and check them all for 'overlap' with my own collection of sounds.

This time, I got a 4, pretty good!

Thank you for your great list!

Jared Beebe's picture

Which four?

Anton's picture

Copland, Emmylou, Hitari!, Debussy.

I am familiar with some others but don't have those specific recordings.

My own favorite Beethoven 6 is von Karajan's on DG....although I realize this is not a popular choice!

2_channel_ears's picture

A little blurb on Hitari! and other Mancini recordings over on TAS:

PalJoey's picture

'Ten Easy Pieces' is a great way to discover Jimmy Webb's songwriting. I played a few tracks to a couple of friends who didn't really know much about him, and they both went home and bought their own copies straight away.

Steven Plaskin's picture
Ten Easy Pieces is one of my favorite albums. Ian Tyson is also a favorite of mine. His album Carnero Vaquero is amazing given that he did this at age 82 with his voice restored after vocal cord surgery.
Jared Beebe's picture

You might also give Corb Lund a try, they are almost like father and son in musical sensibilities.