As the snowdrops and even daffodils appear in our gardens there is an excitement, a palpable energy in the air, despite the oft’ gloopy news.
I am reminded of one of my heroes Khalil Gibran, author of The Prophet, who is quoted as saying, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
With this in mind, I recommend Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s talk, Bach’s Habit of Imperfection. This 6-minute talk is fascinating because not only is it relevant to Gibran’s quotation, but Bach lived between 1685 and 1750 and yet it is still relevant today.
The choir of Kings College Cambridge is well-known to be one of the best in the world. Many of us tune in to their 3pm carol service on Christmas Eve, so it was riveting to find this BBC documentary, ‘ A year inside the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge about what happens behind the scenes. Under the baton of their former Director of Music, Stephen Cleobury, this 30-minute documentary also features a choirboy from Rumania, Gustav, whose parents moved to the UK in search of a better life. At the age of 10, his mum took him to a full performance of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Kings College chapel. Gustav was transfixed. At the end (2.5hours), he asked his mum if he could join the choir!
There is no doubt that Bach’s St. Mathew Passion is one of the greatest masterpieces of classical sacred music. Written in 1727 this work is guaranteed to touch every emotion to a transcendental extent. We recommend this outstanding performance conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Plug your phone or tablet into the back of your TV to get an even better experience, in the absence of a live performance during the lockdown.
It is tedious to be interrupted by the ads on Youtube, but there are ways that you can watch “ad free” by taking out a YouTube subscription – there is a free one-month trial so it might be worth giving it a try.
Back into the real world, it is time to get going on those chores and to do so, we recommend a bit of a buzz with the opening of this Schubert Impromptu Op 90 No2 D899 E flat Major performed by Alfred Brendel. Born in Vienna in 1797 Franz Schubert was most noted for bridging the worlds of Classical and Romantic music which is well demonstrated with this brilliantly performed Impromptu.
Keeping up the energy of Schubert’s Impromptu, a little violin and piano music is called for. What better than Mozart’s Violin sonata in C Major KV296 Anne Sophie Mutter, violin and Lambert Orkis piano. Starting with its wonderfully lively first movement it moves into the reflective second movement – perfect for calming the spirit in a brief interlude before firing up again in the final movement. Well worth a click.
Music and art are essential to our health and wellbeing during the lockdown. The National Gallery are doing some wonderful online events which are well worth investigating. The ‘Artemisia’ exhibition featuring Artemisia Gentileschi is coming to an end on 22nd January, but there is still time to watch their ‘curator led’ exhibition film. There is another ‘curator led’ exhibition film featuring Titian which is available until 25th January. Some are free and some require a very small fee. All are well worth it. We are so lucky to be able to have these short sessions to take us away from the gloop.
AND FINALLY: For something completely different. Time for some fun! Have you ever thought of creating your own opera-inspired song? Highlighted in the press recently, Google Arts and Culture have created a brilliant ‘Blob Opera’ programme which allows you literally create your own songs and to be in complete control. You can even record your efforts AND add a festive backdrop! It is simply hilarious. Click here for their explanation of how it works – very easy and on this Blob Opera link to have a go yourself. Warning – it is very clever, amusing and could be addictive!
Keep safe happy musically healthy and well.