La discotheque ideale

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by eisenach, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. eisenach

    eisenach

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    eisenach, Dec 18, 2003
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  2. eisenach

    tones compulsive cantater

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    What do you think of the Bach collection, Eisenach? To me, it seems highly idiosyncratic, to say the least! I mean, to pick the 1968 Harnoncourt St. Matt!!
     
    tones, Dec 18, 2003
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  3. eisenach

    eisenach

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    Well, actually, the '68 Harnoncourt St. Matthew's my favourite!
     
    eisenach, Dec 18, 2003
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  4. eisenach

    eisenach

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    As for the rest, well, their choice being based on Diapason's recommendations doesn't really surprise me, and for the most part, I go along with it as suiting my own tastes. I like Jordi Savall more and more, and have got his Alia Vox recording of Art of Fugue (amongst others, and it gets played a lot, although DG's Koeln recording's my favourite) and Savall earlier EMI (Reflexe)recording of the Viol da Gamba Sonatas.
    I'd say about half of what they suggest are recordings I have, so Bach's fine for me.
    I haven't yet really digested the rest.
    After another look. it's even more clearly what I'd expect from Diapason - lot's of French labels like Erato, Alia Vox, Astree, but especially Harmonia Mundi. And good stuff it mostly is too.
    If it were all I could get, I happily go along with it!
     
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    eisenach, Dec 18, 2003
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  5. eisenach

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Well, I for one wouldn't be happy with Savall's Monteverdi Vespers, which I bought on the strength of "rave" reviews by French magazines. Unfortunately (for my tastes), it's really very ordinary - it comes nowhere the leaders of the pack, Gardiner II and Suzuki.

    I'm afraid I find Harnoncourt's old "Das Alte Werke" OK, but no more than that (I have some of it on vinyl). Nicky was a pioneer and pioneers are often doomed to be overtaken, as per Isaac Newton's comment about seeing farther than the folk of the past because we're standing on their shoulders.

    I find the French label stuff again generally OK, but I think you can usually do better elsewhere.
     
    tones, Dec 18, 2003
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  6. eisenach

    titian

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    Et voilà un autre pigeon!

    Tones
    you have according to me a 'typical' english taste when it concerns interpretations.
    It is also true that there is lot of french stuff but some of it is really great or let's say it could be recommended. The choice of what the interpreters is actually quite wide, wider than any english recommendation would have. In this case I would say it is not only a question of taste!
     
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    titian, Dec 18, 2003
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  7. eisenach

    eisenach

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    I don't know Savall's Vespers, but then I'm happy with Parrott, which I know you don't like too much.
    Do you know the Leonhardt Messe en si? I've two versions of that, but could be up for another. So far it's Parrott again (which the French press hated with a passion (sorry!)) and Gardiner, both of which have strengths in my book. What's your favourite?
     
    eisenach, Dec 18, 2003
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  8. eisenach

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    This is a very interesting thread. At least for me, because I actually read French magazines and sometimes respect them, most often I simply despise what they say. French 'intelligentsia' is irritating at its most benign, despicable at its worse – they just go on an on saying the same the others say. And if you dare speak against it, they'll despise you and your only possibility is to actually crunch your opponents to pieces. Believe me, I know. So I'll take only Bach. I know it well – certainly better than the journalist who jotted down these comments, and I may perhaps illuminate the way these 'critical' circles works.

    CANTATES: GUSTAV LEONHARDT ET NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT (I, TELDEC) OU PHILIPPE HERREWEGHE (S, HM).

    The Harnoncourt/Leonhardt series is very old and horribly recorded. From the start, it was obvious it had not a lot to do with authenticity but with marketing. Phrasings are not historical, the players struggle with the old instruments, and the boys are, usually, completely beside their capacities, whence soprano and alto parts which are trivial or plain unlistenable. Further, Harnoncourt's hammering style is quite different from the introverted (but still rather square) Leonhardt Consort's.
    Herreweghe is different from both of them. I personally don't like his phrasing – I would describe it as soft, bordering on the sleepy. But he is French speaking, and that counts a lot for the French – which is, perhaps, natural.
    I personally would chose Suzuki.


    INVENTIONS, PARTITAS, LE CLAVIER BIEN TEMPERE, SUITES FRANÇAISES ET ANGLAISES: GLENN GOULD (SONY) OU GUSTAV LEONHARDT (DHM).

    There's a lot of different stuff here. The WTC and the Inventions require a different kind of musicianship from the Suites. And, of course, they are talking 'n'importe quoi' – nonsense, that is: Leonhardt's sets of the Suites and Inventions were never on DHM; they are to be found chez Sony, at this moment. Also, there are two, quite different sets of English suites by Leonhardt. That said, I agree Leonhardt's versions are convincing. But recommending Leonhardt for Bach is just like recommending Kempff or Arrau for Beethoven or Kempff or Brendel for Schubert: it is the politically correct recommendation.

    Now I don't know how one can recommend BOTH Leonhardt and Gould. It is rather like recommending someone to vote liberal AND socialist. Leonhardt said that Gould lacked musicianship (of course he would say that) and the approaches cannot be more different: stark, somber, manly, Leonhardt and flippant, boyish, effete Gould.

    That does say a lot about the reviewer.


    CONCERTO ITALIEN: ANDREAS STAIER (DHM).

    Ã…'UVRES D'ORGUE: MICHEL CHAPUIS (I, VALOIS) OU TON KOOPMAN (S, ERA).

    There is more consistency here, inasmuch both like a very spectacular Bach. Even so, I am astonished they didn't mention at least MC Alain. In any case Koopman recorded for Novallis (Now Brilliant Records) and for Archiv, not for Erato: that's the harpsichord stuff.

    SUITES ET SONATES POUR VIOLON SEUL: GERARD POULET (ARION).

    Poulet has nothing to commend it above Grumiaux, Milstein or even Tetzlaff.

    SUITES POUR VIOLONCELLE SEUL: PABLO CASALS (EMI).

    Of course they would suggest Casals. It is the politically correct choice (Casals was a communist, and so on). Rather good, too – he is the one who brought these works from oblivion – , but it dates from the thirties and sound, well, just sounds odd. I would have expected them to refer to Anner Bylsma; His second version would be my choice.


    MAGNIFICAT: PHILIPPE HERREWEGHE (HM).

    Now that's nonsense. A mild and caressing Magnificat!! Of course it's Gardiner or even Richter if you can get it.


    PASSION SELON SAINT MATTHIEU: NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT (TELDEC, 1968).

    As a matter of fact, I rather like this version. Sound is horrible, but the performance is rather good (I think I started a thread about it here) – all about tension and despair. Anyway, it always good to refer to this Passion: cela fait connaisseur (it makes you seem a connoisseur).

    PASSION SELON SAINT JEAN: TON KOOPMAN (ERA).

    Now I never understood why this version was so highly though off. It is monotonous and dull. But I think it is the fact that Pregardien is the bybical narrator. Best modern record is, perhaps, Gardiner's (but very brightly recorded).


    MESSE EN SI: GUSTAV LEONHARDT (DHM).

    Of course. As a matter of fact I expected Leonhardt to be recommended for the St. Matthew and Harnoncourt for the Mass; we got the reverse. Now is it good? Yes, but Leonhardt the conductor is always a bit boring and his choice of voices is very odd – the horrible contralto for instance. Also, the bright and powerful movements are down played. Boring. Why do the French always look down on Gardiner?


    SONATES POUR FLUTE: FRANS BRÃœGGEN (SONY).

    Brüggen was the wonder flutist of the early baroque movement. Enough said.

    SONATES POUR VIOLON: JAIME LAREDO (SONY) OU SIGISWALD KUIJKEN (DHM).

    I don't quite follow, here. First, the Sonatas and Partitas were reviewed previously. Are they talking about the keyboard and violin sonatas? This is an important point: they are not violin sonatas at all: they are trio sonatas, with two voices on the harpsichord and a further one on the violin.
    Laredo played with Gould. And Kuijken with Leonhardt. Ah… I see, now! Let me just say that Laredo's intonation is catastrophic and that Kuijken's is not much better.
    Podger and Pinnock are quite good (although Pinnock is a little boring and plays a mammoth harpsichord).

    SONATES POUR VIOLE DE GAMBE: LEONARD ROSE (SONY) OU JORDI SAVALL (ALIA VOX).

    Again, are trio sonatas. Rose's I don't know. Savall is good, but his partner, Koopman, plays in a very different style. So you get a sensuous viola and a prickly harpsichord.

    CONCERTOS BRANDEBOURGEOIS: JORDI SAVALL (ASTRÉE).

    There is so much choice it is difficult to say which version. I don't like this one: soft and velvety.

    SUITES POUR ORCHESTRE: JORDI SAVALL (FONTALIS).

    See above. Here I would chose Gardiner.

    OFFRANDE MUSICALE ET ART DE LA FUGUE: JORDI SAVALL (ALIA VOX).

    They are different things. I started a thread on the Art of Fugue. The Musical Offering I don't like: it is barren counterpoint bar the Riccercare (6 voices on two hands! And extremely powerful music) and the Sonata, which I dislike.
    I like Savall's KdF (AoF) although the cornets and viols, being very different in promptness of speech may unbalance the counterpoint a bit. Also, sometimes, Savall seems lost in the partition: there is often a sense of playing phrase by phrase, quite independently of the overall sense of each fugue.


    THERE. I vented my wrath.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Dec 18, 2003
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  9. eisenach

    eisenach

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    Well, I don't agree about the cantatas. I think the sound is just fine - it gets better and better the better my HiFi gets. (Of course, I've got an axe to grind, in that over 12 or more years from the mid 80s on, I bulit up my Teldec cantata collection, until I'd got the lot. As far as integrale went, there wasn't much choice at the time - Teldec or Rilling: no contest as far as I'm concerned.)
    Neither do I think that the boys are in general out-classed: there are some instances, of course, but I constantly surprised at how well they do.
    I listen to them Sunday by Sunday, and never tire. Some of the big Cantatas (82 / 147 / ...) for example, can be had in much better versions, but overall, I'm happy with the Teldec (Harnoncourt / Leonhardt) renderings. I've got some of the Suzuki's, but would never turn to him as my first choice. Maybe I just know the Teldec sound too well!
     
    eisenach, Dec 18, 2003
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  10. eisenach

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Yes, habituation does play a factor. Anyway, I was not saying the interpretations are bad in themselves. Just that it is a predictable choice from 'politically correct' 'critiques d'art' and perhaps not the best.

    Concerning the recording issue, at first, Teldec used only two microphones. The ensuing result was lack of definition and even space, hardness and sometimes muffled sound. But of course, all is relative: the music is listenable.

    Also, with boy sopranos and altos one can be touched by their innocence or irritated by their shortcomings. I happen to be affected by either factor: I like children voices but am touchy about intonation and metrical precision... It is a matter of choice.

    :rds2: mode on

    Anyway, what irritates me is the 'salon critique' spirit about it: Leonhardt AND Gould???? Sonatas for VIOLIN? Plain ignorance, it seems to me.

    There is a lot more to be said. For instance, Kempff's choice for both Schumann and Schubert is the 'cool' one. I am a great admirer of Kempff, and even have these records. But I regard them as at least debatable interpretations.

    And how come they didn't include Bruckner's 8th Symphony? There is even a 'musically correct' recommendation (Jochum, of course, but Böhm is actually much better - a few years ago the recommendation would have been Celibidache, the EMI versions; now Jochum is on top again...)

    And Froberger and Verlet? Come on, how is it possible not to mention Leonhardt in this context?

    Scott Ross was also certain to creep in...

    And so on.

    :rds2: mode off.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Dec 18, 2003
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  11. eisenach

    eisenach

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    Just thinking about the sound quality of the Teldec Cantatas, it is very variable. Some discs sound very good indeed, others are distinctly woolly sounding. It doesn't seem to matter whether they were recorded early on or later, although the later digital ones and the very early analogue ones do tend to sound best.
    As you quite rightly say, though, it's all a matter of choice!
     
    eisenach, Dec 18, 2003
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  12. eisenach

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Parrott's Vespers, the darling of the Seventh Day Authenticists, is good for what it is, beautifully played and sung, but it sounds to me like a slightly dusted-off museum piece, rather that a living, breathing bit of music.

    No, I don't know the Leonhardt Mass. Of the ones I've heard, Gardiner knocks spots off everyone else.
     
    tones, Dec 18, 2003
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  13. eisenach

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I may indeed have a "typical English taste", whatever that may be! And I would not deny the existence of "really great" French stuff, but I would deny that it is any more than a matter of taste. I think it is exactly that. The fact that the interpreter/interpretation is French has no effect on me.

    As RdS says, the French do sometimes put on intellectual airs and graces that they see as being appropriate to La Grande Nation, and their magazines (and record sleeves) are full of it. Ever notice how often, in sleeve notes, the German and English versions are usually translations of the other, but the French is entirely different? Sacre bleu!
     
    tones, Dec 18, 2003
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  14. eisenach

    titian

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    Yes it is true that the French do put intelectual air, but they are and have always been in the latest thousand or more years more intelectual-oriented than the others. Sorry but Paris was the cultural centre for ages, not London, not Spain, not Germany not the others. Italy came after them and even today this fact has left lots of signs. Even if any kind of arts were made in other contries, they all came to Paris! You shouldn't even bring the argument of 'grande Nation' because the English (or other Nations) are not better!
    Maybe you get annoyed about the french because in some aspects they mirror the English. :rolleyes:
    This is not a question of taste.
     
    titian, Dec 18, 2003
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  15. eisenach

    Herman

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    Are the French too French?

    These lists are always more than a little silly. However to claim the man who made this list is disingenuous and / or typically French politically correct is a bit weird.

    The list seems to reflect a couple of choices and preferences, and I think it's fairly safe to say that's what RdS does, too - except RdS occasionally throws in some heavy moral judgements to make sure no one is going to debate his preferences.

    When the French guy recommends either Gould or Leonhardt in Bach, or Harnoncourt or Bernstein in (I think) Haydn symphonies, I'm pretty sure he's not trying to say (politically correct) that either way makes no difference. Maybe he's trying to say: listen to these two versions and get the one that speaks to you.

    I like that.

    Recommending Kempff in Schubert is not politically correct. In that case he would recommend Perahia or Brendel. My feeling is recommending Kempff in Schubert is giving sound advice. If that's the only Schubert you're ever going to buy between here and eternity that's a pretty good choice.

    I also agree with Eisenach. So maybe the French are pretty full of themselves. But that's nothing compared to the English-speaking nations. What with the BBC, Gramophone magazine and a lot of record labels based in the UK I think the British are very very powerful in the music world.

    I meet people here on the Continent who are seriously listening to all kinds of quaint Britsh composers like Bax, Simpson and Peter Maxwell Davies, and admirable though that is, when I ask whether they are listening (and buying records of) similar parochial composers from France or Germany, they look as if they don't even know music is being composed in other parts of the world, too. It's because they read Gramophone and they listen to the BBC Proms - two powerful mediums for British hi-culture propaganda.

    I have no problems with the BBC or Gramophone (well, in the case of the magazine, I actually do). The problem however is people don't seem to have the energy to look for other sources. So if a French newspaper publishes a list of recommended recordings, I'll say all lists of recommendations are totally silly, but I'm not going to say the French are too French.

    Herman
     
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    Herman, Dec 18, 2003
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  16. eisenach

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Herm:

    Heavy moral judgements? Such as? Try me. You'll see they are not moral at all. They are either musical or musicological preferences.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Dec 19, 2003
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  17. eisenach

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Caro Tiziano:

    I'm afraid I'll have to disagree most strongly – albeit politely, I hope, with you.

    You say:

    I'm afraid you are wrong, or else I'm misunderstanging you. Our first cultural centre was Athens. Then it migrated, with some heavy losses, to Rome; then Roman culture carried on (more or less – certainly more than us westerners) to Byzantine lands.

    During the Middle Ages, Rome remained the centre of western civilization. The fact that the Germans and the French speak forever about Karl and Charlemagne and the Carolingian revolution merely reflects the fact that German and France actually rewrote History up to the second world war. What is today called Belgium and Holland actually was an important culture circle.

    With Renaissance, Rome was again the centre. The fact that we listen a lot about Erasmus is just because he is central to Reformation. But you just have to pay a visit to Italy: Rome, Florence, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Pico della Mirandola, and even Dante (which points to an earlier age) are all from Italy.

    Also, Portugal and Spain are strongly important, both as art producers and as information diffusers. All that was new to the world came from Iberia. Of course not everybody knows that because of the deep crisis both countries suffered during the 19th and 20th centuries – they couldn't promote themselves as France or Germany did.

    With counter reformation there was a huge split in Europe. Scientific knowledge was anathema in the south (Galileo and so many others) and it could only naturally develop in the less conservative North. Where does France stand here? Its importance is that it is very close to the Netherlands, which had free printers – the Plantins, for instance – and could, therefore, promote books, discussion and knowledge.

    France was very important in the late 17th and all the 18th Centuries, I agree with that.

    And then, during the 19th Centuries, France, Germany and England competed for the leadership; that is why we tend to look up at them.

    More than that. You cannot actually make such rash generalizations as what is the capital of the western world. It depends on what you are interested at. For instance, Lübeck was rapidly losing importance in the late 1600, but Buxtehude made it important. Leipzig was a retrograde society in the second quarter of the 18th Century, but it had Bach. Oxford and Cambridge and Paris and Bologna and Salamanca and Coimbra and a lot more were important centers of learning.

    I'm afraid for once we do disagree strongly.

    A final note: I did not consult any sources for writing this answer. Therefore errors are bound to be found in it. I'm certain that Tones – who likes and knows about History – or any other member (including, of course, you) will put me right.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Dec 19, 2003
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  18. eisenach

    tones compulsive cantater

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    It is true that France is the one country on the planet that has been a major power continuously for the last millennium. However, the actual time of French cultural ascendency was very short, basically the reign (admittedly long - 72 years) of one man Louis XIV Le Roi Soleil, whose major talent was spending money as if it were going out of style. During this time, everyone rushed to emulate Louis's example - people copied French architecture, French food, French fashions, even French music, although the French court composers weren't a patch on Bach, Telemann or Handel. It was this period that made French the language of diplomacy and gave French cuisine the reputation it holds today. These lingered on, after "le déluge" foreseen by Madame de Pompadour.

    I used "La grande Nation", because that's the name the French often apply to themselves, not as any sort of sarcastic remark. I actually like France and the French very much, and we tend to take most of our holidays there. However, I think it's indisputable that they have this inflated view of themselves, which sometimes leads them into big messes. At least the British realised that they could no longer afford an empire and that colonialism was past and got out. The French tried to keep their empire and suffered two major disasters in Indo-China and Algeria, the latter bringing France to the brink of civil war.

    Again, you're wrong about Italy being after the French, Titian. Why do you think musical notation is all in Italian? Because the Italians were the trail blazers. Many German composers were influenced by the Gabrielis and Monteverdi in Venice, and Bach admired Vivaldi. The wonderful high-flying trumpets of the great Baroque masterpieces was made possible by the town trumpeters of Bologna, who discovered the secret of playing in the upper register of the natural instrument. Italy changed the face of music and everyone else followed. Even Lully, the main French court composer was born of Italian patents! As a whole, the French court composers were not brilliant. We visited Versailles some years ago on a Sunday, the only day on which they operate the fountains. And what were they playing? Not Lully, not Couperin, not Delalande, not even Charpentier. Handel!

    Now, of course, the French see themselves as the bulwark against the hordes of Anglo-Americanism. There is no harm in maintaining your culture, but who else has anything like the Academie Française, which spends much of its time devising French equivalents for nasty English words creeping into the language?
     
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    tones, Dec 19, 2003
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  19. eisenach

    titian

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    Querido RdS

    maybe I have exagerated a bit (as usual :D) when I wrote about 'over thousand years'.
    What I meant is that at least in the last hundred years (200?)every major artist in europe went to stay in Paris for a while because that was the intellectual 'mecca'. I know about Italy very well (that's also why I menioned it) since I had to study italian 'culture' for years at school and since I was living next to Italy and had lots of contacts there. Funny enough many italian composers or artists also went to Paris :rolleyes:. The intelectual level in Italy was 10-30 years ago very high even if it could be difficult to believe that. The Italians don't show much of that but when you talk to them they know much more than the average people about arts or politics. Maybe because they had, as you said, a lot of important history and they have to learn it in school.

    I also write these postings without checking any books so I also may say wrong things :eek: even if I am perfect.:D
     
    titian, Dec 19, 2003
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  20. eisenach

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Is it contagious? Can I catch a small dose from contact with you?
     
    tones, Dec 19, 2003
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