Monday, 21 November 2016

On taking delight in an entirely new garden......

Well, new to me, at any rate.

The garden is the canon of music that I am now experiencing thanks to switching radio stations from BBC Radio 2 to Radio 3.

And I am a delighted child running around in it.

I am unable to name all the flowers that so enchant with their colours, form and scent.

I do not have the knowledge.

But sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

Today I heard "Variations on a theme by Chopin " by Federico Mompou performed by Javier Negrin.

I've never heard of him, but the sound is of roses against a limestone wall, dew-bedecked in the dawn's early light.

It can still be heard by going to the Radio Three website and looking for Johnathan Swain's "Sunday Morning" programme.

It will be there for 29 days from today.

I think you'll like it.........

Now, all this pre-occupation with beauty and music while the world slides rudderless toward the abyss may seem a little fey: Nero and his fiddle while Rome burns........

Perhaps the true use of a blog should be to protest against this: call out, loud and proud, against the ascendant darkness. Muster the troops; paint the banners; Marchons! Marchons!


But what I'm seeking to do here is not merely distract us from our dread of the horrors to come.

Let us shout at the tops of our voices as the foundations of walls are dug and lists of names are made, while, in the marshaling yards, the trains of cattle trucks are assembled.

It may not do one scintilla of good, but we owe it to those who come after us to say that we tried.......

No, for now, it is of the utmost importance to share what is beautiful, the better that we might appreciate it, and above all, protect it.

There is precedent for this: during World War Two in London, Dame Myrah Hess gave lunchtime piano recitals. People who had never heard or cared for this sort of music before came in droves.

When stood upon the shore of the lake of the night, who would not wish to turn toward the light of great writing, music, art and culture.

Make no mistake, much will be destroyed in the next four years. many people will be hurt. Some will die because of the things that will be done.

But we must hold fast to that which is good, that which is beautiful, that which is kind and honourable and decent.

And let's share.

If anyone's got a favourite piece of music, leave a comment, perhaps with a link to it, so we can all have a listen.

For now, I'll leave you with this: It's on the Private Passions page of the Radio 3 website. It's the overture and Act Three Aria from Scott Joplin's little known opera "Treemonisha" sung by Willard White and played by the orchestra of the Houston Grand Opera.

Had we but known it, it's also a warning.........


  1. Overture Rienzi, Wagner

  2. Cut and paste the following link (links don't work in 'comments') to hear this.
    Do ignore the comments (it is Youtube, after all.....) which vary from the ill-informed to the decidedly unhinged..... A lot of stuff about Hitler and about Wagner being an anti-semite.
    When I was singing with The Pro Musica Chorus of London in the late 80's, it was run by Charles Spencer. Charles was a Jew whose family had been persecuted by the Nazis. He was a great Wagnerian. For him, and for me, it was, is and ever shall be, all about the music.

    Have a look at the Wikipedia entry below as well: it gives some interesting background.

    Thanks for sharing, Sal.