“My Funny Valentine,” written by the popular duo of Richard Rodgers (music) and Lorenz Hart (lyrics), has appeared on well over 1,000 albums since it was introduced in the 1937 Broadway musical Babes in Arms, sung by Mitzi Green. Though beginning in the mid-’40s it became very popular vocal tune on records and radio, covered by the likes of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald—and in more modern times by everyone from Barbara Streisand to Marvin Gaye to Elvis Costello—it has also enjoyed a long history as an instrumental in the jazz and pop worlds. Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Bill Evans, and Keith Jarrett are just a few of the great jazz players to tackle and improvise over Rodger’s sumptuous but somewhat quirky melody. In the classical guitar world, Roland Dyens’ wonderful arrangement is the best-known (Marco Pereira also has a good one, played here by Marius Gundersen), and no doubt there are others.
The one we’re featuring today is by the young English guitarist Alexandra Whittingham, who plays it in a much different and considerably less jazzy manner than many do; it feels more rooted to classical music in this presentation, even with its occasional jazz touches. This could almost be a sarabande! This well-made video (just posted in February 2019) was shot at a place called Le Presbytère in the gorgeous village of Puy-lʼÉvêque, in the Lot Valley in southwestern France, home of the annual Les Temps de Guitare festival (this year’s fourth edition takes place July 24–27). Whittingham played at that festival in its inaugural year, 2016. —Blair Jackson