Episode 93. Evelyn Lear sings Sondheim and Bernstein

Episode 93. Evelyn Lear sings Sondheim and Bernstein

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I had intended a no-holds-barred Queer Pride extravaganza for this week’s episode, but life got in the way, so I elected to do a more modest, chamber-music-sized celebration instead, which encompasses both the life and artistry of Evelyn Lear, the ninth anniversary of whose death we observe on July First. Her 1980 release Evelyn Lear sings Sondheim and Bernstein, recorded in collaboration with her most frequent recital partner, pianist Martin Katz, finds this artist lending her distinctive voice, style, and interpretive flair to ten songs by these two composers, who are seen today as, among other things, queer icons. I round out the episode with performances by Evelyn Lear and her husband Thomas Stewart, of songs by a number of other composers (Schubert, Hahn, Tchaikovsky, Copland and Foster) who are, by my assessment at least, also guiding beacons for the queer community.

Stephen Sondheim (L) and Leonard Bernstein (R)

RECORDINGS HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

Leonard Bernstein: Who Am I? (Peter Pan). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Zavel Kwartin (1874 – 1952), Evelyn Lear’s grandfather

Traditional: T’zur Yisroel. Zavel Kwartin, Unknown organist and chorus [1908]

Traditional: Song from the Crimea. Nina Quartin, Unknown pianist [1930s]

Marc Blitzstein: Nickel Under the Foot (The Cradle Will Rock). Evelyn Lear, Marc Blitzstein [1956]

Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson: Oh, Heart of Love (Johnny Johnson). Evelyn Lear, Orchestra conducted by Samuel Matlowsky [1956]

Leonard Bernstein: My House (Peter Pan). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green: I Can Cook, Too (On the Town). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green: Some Other Time (On the Town). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green: Lonely Town (On the Town). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green: Carnegie Hall Pavane (On the Town) Evelyn Lear, Marie McLaughlin, Michael Tilson Thomas, London Symphony Orchestra, London Voices [1993]

Charles Ives: Tom Sails Away. Evelyn Lear, Alan Mandel [1971]

Franz Schubert, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Mignon und der Harfner [Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt], D. 877/4. Evelyn Lear, Thomas Stewart, Erik Werba [1967]

The following recordings are from these magnificent VAI releases:

Reynaldo Hahn, Charles d’Orléans: Quand je fus pris au pavillon. Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [live, ca. 1975]

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, Aleksey Apukhtin: День ли царит [Does the day reign?], Op. 47/6

Aaron Copland (R) and Leonard Bernstein (L)

Traditional American, arr. Aaron Copland: I Bought Me a Cat (Old American Songs). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [live, ca. 1975]\

Aaron Copland’s beautiful younger lover, the violinist and photographer
Victor Kraft (1915 – 1976), as photographed by Cecil Beaton

Stephen Sondheim: Green Finch and Linnet Bird (Sweeney Todd). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Anthony Perkins and Charmian Carr in Stephen Sondheim’s 1966 TV musical Evening Primrose

Stephen Sondheim: I Remember (Evening Primrose). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Evelyn Lear and Paul Schöffler in Alban Berg’s Lulu, Wien 1962

Stephen Sondheim: Could I Leave You? (Follies). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Evelyn Lear as Marie in Wozzeck

Stephen Sondheim: Losing My Mind (Follies). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

As Fedora in Umberto Giordano’s opera of the same title, 1977
(though doesn’t she look like she could be costumed for Desiree Armfeldt here?)

Stephen Sondheim: Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music). Evelyn Lear, Martin Katz [1980]

Stephen Foster: Hard Times Come Again No More. Evelyn Lear, Thomas Stewart, Erik Werba [1967]

Cat-eyed glamor in an Americana setting

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