Share this article

print logo

Listening Post: Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt together and Falletta’s Stravinsky


Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, “Trio” (Rhino/Warner, three discs) The story, as Linda Ronstadt tells us, began in Emmylou Harris’ house. The phone rang in Ronstadt’s “Malibu Cottage” with Emmylou Harris on the other end “saying she had Dolly Parton in her living room and she wanted me to come over. Needing no more encouragement, I jumped in my car, pushed it as fast as I dared” and thus began a permanently treasurable threesome, both as a friendship and a musical milestone. You have to understand that when Harris first met Ronstadt in 1973, she says “a long friendship was forged when we both realized our favorite ‘girl singer’ was Dolly Parton. We knew we were destined to be soul sisters.” What the three women discovered together in Harris’ house began after “trading stories and laughing together.” Harris “had her guitar out” and, says Ronstadt, “Dolly suggested a Carter family jewel ‘Bury Me Beneath the Willow.’” They began to sing in three-part harmony and, says Ronstadt, all three “were surprised and stunned by the effect of our voices together. The sound we were making wasn’t bluegrass and it wasn’t honky tonk country music. It wasn’t even restricted to what Dolly called ‘old-timey’ music. We came to regard it as ‘parlor music.’” Says Parton “it kind of created a sound of its own — almost like a little instrument rather than a vocal sound.” Their first Trio record came out in 1987 and was a smash hit. “Trio II” came out in 1999. And now, for the first time, you’ve got both together with an entirely new third disc of unreleased songs and alternate takes (no less than 11 never released before.). It’s that third disc of new discoveries which, when added to the originals, is priceless. This trio isn’t going to happen again even though Parton and Harris still perform. Ronstadt’s health won’t permit it anymore. The only thing wrong with this near-perfect recorded collaboration is David Grisman’s tremolo-picking on the mandolin. It is one of the cliched country music sounds and a rather awful one at that (though not nearly as bad as the ersatz weeping pedal steel guitar playing country music has stuffed down our throats, despite the fact that it sounds like the first sound when you might hear ringing in your ears when you wake up with a bad hangover.) A great three disc set – one of those rare recorded moments when avid music industry types and musicians were in near-perfect sync. Four out of four stars. (Jeff Simon)


Stravinsky, “The Soldier’s Tale– Suite,” Octet and “Les Noces” performed by violinist Tianawa Yang, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and Virginia Arts Chamber Ensemble conducted by JoAnn Falletta (Naxos) Good for Maestra Falletta. She’s solved the biggest problem of Stravinsky’s 1918 “Soldier’s Tale” by playing just the suite, without any of the narration which, frankly in this day and age, is rather beside the point. In the 1922-23 Octet, Stravinsky’s music points the way to the neo-classicism which, just a few years later, would produce one of his greatest masterworks, the “Symphony of Psalms.” The disc ends with the once-revelatory “Les Noces” (“The Wedding”) from, as early, in its conception as 1913. Stravinsky’s biggest scandal, obviously, was “Le Sacre du Printemps” (by which all artistic scandals will forever be judged) but “Les Noces” was, in its day, not far behind. Today, it is far from popular as “Le Sacre” has come to be but interestingly, one of the most popular of all pieces of 20th century music, Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” is beholden to “Les Noces” in no small measure. Three out of four stars. (Jeff Simon)

There are no comments - be the first to comment