Confucius believed that, ‘Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it’ – my thanks to Will Gompertz.
This ‘lockdown’ has produced some wonderful opportunities to appreciate the beauty around us. I don’t want to wax lyrical every week, but the beauty of the countryside, our gardens, the music of birdsong, the beauty of the language in revisited classic books, the list goes on and is one advantage of being locked down.
We are also able to access the best of our theatres in our own homes through organisations such as the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House series ‘From our House to yours’ including the Royal Ballet, the London Mozart Players, the Berlin Philharmoniker, I fagiolini etc.
Nothing will match the experience of being in a live audience (particularly CM concerts, of course) but at least we can access theatres and productions that would normally be completely out of our range either in terms of distance or price and take our minds right away from the ‘C19’ word! ,
Music to start the day this week has to be, Zequinha e Abréu’s ‘Tico Tico’ or ‘Tico Tico no farelo’ – the original title, performed by the Berlin Philharmoniker conducted by Daniel Barenboim. Abreu was a Brazillian composer 1880-1935. One translation of the meaning of ‘Tico Tico no farelo’ is ’Sparrow in the bran”. Hilarious to write a fabulous work about such a simple subject! You can feel that sparrow having a real feast! Well worth a click to help get down to those jobs that have been put off through what I call simply ‘must just-ing’!
The Royal Ballet’s release of Cathy Marston’s ballet, ‘The Cellist’ telling the true story of Jacqueline du Pré whose career and life was so tragically cut short by multiple sclerosis is well worth watching. Just over an hour of true beauty and completely devoid of the scandal that surrounded her love life which I personally feel adds to the beauty of the ballet. If I have tempted you to tune in, before you watch it, enhance your experience by reading Will Gompertz’ review in which he gives us a fascinating insight into not only the tragic tale but also to ‘beauty’ itself. The dancers are superb and of course there is the music – excerpts from Elgar’s ‘cello concerto…
I have often looked at orchestra conductors with a somewhat cynical eye. Looking into this, I came across this treasure of a documentary – ‘The Art of Conducting’ A real tour de force featuring the lives of some of the great classical conductors from Toscanini to Bernstein and the ‘telepathy’ that they need to control and bring out the best in the multitude of individual musicians in front of them! It is clearly an art but should I now view it as the ‘beauty’ of watching a good conductor (not only his/her good looks! – more anon). We usually see them performing from behind, so it is a joy to actually focus on their expressions too.
It’s time for a short break and a couple of clicks – kettle and link. This week’s coffee ‘concertissimo’ is another absolute gem from Peter Hewitt’s Beethoven series. This week Peter explores the second movement from Beethoven’s 9th piano Sonata Op. 14 in E. Peter performs this on two contrasting pianos – firstly on an 1835 Broadwood Square piano which he says sounds very like the Beethoven era ‘piano sound’ and secondly on his modern Bluthner grand piano. The difference is fascinating. He asks which you prefer.
We now have Reiko Fujisawa and Crawford Logan’s third part in their ‘Beethoven – pianist, prophet and dreamer’ series in which they touch on Beethoven’s sad love life. Beethoven realised that true happiness was not going to come from ‘outside’; you must create it in yourself….Interesting!
Feeling a little guilty at last week’s ‘dig’ at violists – “such fun”(!) I want to highlight another of my favourite works – Mozart’s ‘Sinfonia Concertante’ featuring Itzak Perlman, violin and Pinchas Zukerman, viola with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta. The viola part is the making of this work for me – the tone strikes every possible emotional chord. This is not the best quality of film but I enjoyed the performance far more than others from which I could choose. Adding to the interest, Zubin Mehta demonstrates very clearly those telepathic conducting skills mentioned in the ‘Art of Conducting’ documentary above.
Talking of beauty and good looks, my next recommendation kindly sent in by Gill and Nick Barr, comes with a definite health warning for all males. Greig’s Piano concerto performed by the lovely Khatia Buniatishvili. Sit back blokes, relax, have your heart pills handy and enjoy this wonderful work with your sundowner or today – rain-downer.
This week, whilst featuring beauty and conducting, take a quick peep at one of the conductors of tomorrow in this divine clip of a little tot conducting at the back of a choir in a church service in Kyrgyzstan! Her father is in the choir! The timing is a fraction out but I note that this is IT fault, the tot is actually in time.
And finally, as the R rate rises in the West Country, we all must continue to exercise extreme caution. Needless to say Churchill Music offers the best method of to ensure good social distancing: Eat five cloves of garlic a day. It won’t do anything, but it will surely keep everyone else away!
Best wishes to you all to stay happy, safe and healthy.