Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Conversation, orchestra and X-ray

Maggie Hambling's memorial to Oscar Wilde opposite Charing Cross Station in London. From my archive. It is is inscribed with the quotation  from Lady Windermere's Fan, " We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars." Not my favourite piece of public sculpture. But a good opportunity for street photography.

The You Tube Symphony Orchestra  which draws on musicians from all over the world is new to me. I encountered it looking for a link to Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. I thought that this piece of music sub-titled Variations and Fugue on a theme of Purcell might be a useful contribution to the discussion initiated here by Stella, which I am  incidentally greatly enjoying and learning from. I wonder if E would like in  particular this rendering of a  stirring piece of music. The piece, takes the listener and the viewer through the whole spectrum of orchestral instruments.  It may not be the best performance ever, but you can watch and listen.  And it is not too long.

In the hospital today where they are still probing my Polymyalgia Rheumatica I comment on the brand new Siemens X-ray machine. What did it cost? About the same as a three-bedroom house in Tunbridge Wells, I am told.



Stella said...

A friend has joined me in the quest! Since my Chopin will arrive anon, we settled on Beethoven for today. As it has worked out so far, I go off on some household mission and return to find the cd finished. Must sit down! Will check out the YouTube Orchestra. Many thanks, I am energized!

Lucy said...

I reckon the YPGTTO has one of the most off-putting titles for what is really a rather nice piece of music. I was thinking a bit about the kind of rather patronising and tiresome introduction-to-classical-music things that are presented to children and youngsters: Peter and the Wolf, Tubby the Tuba, etc and how when I was about 10 we were taken off from school to a kids' concert at the Albert Hall. The programme was interesting, I think; Borodin's Polovtsian Dances, which I gather more mature critical minds wince at somewhat, and Vaughan Williams' Tallis Theme, which I still wouldn't hear a word against. Neither of them were exactly standard classical baby food, and I know we found the whole evening magical and intoxicating; I remember coming back to school at midnight wide-eyed with wonder and sleeping till midday the next day.

The x-ray machine sounds like relatively good value; I hope they can help.

Rouchswalwe said...

Ah! Beethoven!

There is a special place in my heart for Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel opera. I know, I know, many say it isn't really opera. But I find it very exciting, especially when Christa Ludwig sings the Witch. I recently discovered on YouTube The Evening Prayer sung by Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade, and I can't get through it without a hankie.

Roderick Robinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roderick Robinson said...

Stella: Lucy echoes a point I raised earlier; ignore pieces of music that are thought to tell stories. Words are a far better medium for this; music does other things.

The Young Person's Guide is a good tune and it introduces you to the sound of the various orchestral instruments. Note in particular the section devoted to percussion instruments. Despite their limited musical range they are able to spell out the tune simply by duplicating its rhythms.

Given your busy life, operas are a long way off; you need time for those. However here is an example of what can happen in an opera. No need to know what the words mean: just listen to the way one woman singer starts a sentence and the other finishes it off, how they blend exquisitely, and how the man's voice makes the women sound even better. I won't identify the song (it's called a trio for obvious reasons) or the opera; there's no greater put-off than being showered with lots of words in a foreign language you may not be able to speak. Copy this into the Google search box


Roderick Robinson said...

Stella: I should have mentioned - the trio lasts only 2 min 46 seconds.