Wednesday, May 28, 2008

musical interlude

No, this is NOT an angry rant about the outcome of I'd Do Anything! (If you haven't followed the series, then you really won't be interested. If you have, well let's just say that I think John Barrowman and Denise Van Outen are lousy judges. Jessie was robbed thanks to their malign influence over an undirscriminating public. Jodie certainly does consistent, but oh so bland and cheesy. I won't pay to go and see her. I love Oliver, so Jessie--or, indeed, Sarah or even Rachel, would've been different...). Oh dear, I appear to have given my rant. Moving swiftly on...

Glancing through the Fitzwilliam Museum programme recently, I was thrilled to spot a lunchtime harpsichord recital. My mother adores harpsichords and I share her love so I suggested that she and Dad join me and Graham there. The programme was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Arnold Dolmetsch
If, like me, you played the recorder during schooldays, you may well be more familiar with the work of his son, Carl Frederick, who compiled lots of recorder books for schools. Needless to say, the programme had a real "early music" flavour. And we loved it! (Though I was surprised to notice Ma's nose wrinkle up at one point, only to have my nostrils assailed seconds later. Still, I suppose that afflaetus causes less disruption to a concert than coughing or nose blowing...)

After such a treat I found myself at quite a loose end the following day (both Graham and his daughter are in deep in the throes of academic masterworks at the moment and both of them wanted to use the computer; it was one of those "I'm outta here" moments!) So I headed off to Ely, planning an idle day of rootling through the antiques centre and the market stalls. But I found myself drawn to the cathedral. (No, not the stirrings of Christian sentiment in my breast, just the call of an ancient monument and the joy of sacred space, no matter to whom--or what--it is dedicated). And as I went in I spotted a small notice advertising a choral recital later that afternoon. I had no idea what the programme would be but, as the admission charge was merely a donation on the way out (if you see what I mean) I decided to give it a go.

What serendipity. The acoustics in the Lady Chapel are bizarre: you will be flummoxed by even the clearest of diction, yet you can tell preciesly which singer is making which sound. You can differentiate bewteen each alto, each tenor. As the choir launched into Palestrina my spine tingled, and the hairs of my arms stood on end. As they moved into Peter Philips' ascendit deus, a praticular favourite of mine, there were tears in my eyes. That was the absolute high point but the rest of the programme was inspired: a couple of Victorian church pieces, it is true, but alos Britten's Hymn to St Cecelia; an e.e. cummings poem and, to conclude an American spiritual arranged by Bob Chilcott.

The performance, by the University of London Chamber choir, was outstanding and the Lady Chapel just amazing. If you've never been it is a cavernous space with white walls, flooded with light from windows largely devoid of stained glass. It is a wounded space, ravaged by Cromwell's followers who erased faces on the many little human figures carved round the sides, but it reamins triumphant. Cromwell's men left the grotesques carved above the friezes and the focal point is a modern, very sexy, statue of Mary (by David Wynne) looking anything but demure and virginal. Her hair is impossibly golden, her complexion improbably fair, her hips sashay (surely she is dancing) and, whilst her eyes are looking down (with token modesty)her nipples, pointing heavenwards, defy gravity!

It was, truly, an unforgettable afternoon. (The music so sublime that I couldn't face watching I'd Do Anything that evening, preferring to let the dying notes of the last piece echo around my brain).

What an extraordinary gift that recital was. Maybe concerts-- like buses (and men, but that's another story)--come along in twos.


Lyndsey-Jane said...

i thought i was in a minority thinking Jesse should have won. I was allday yesterday (went to colchester zoo and then to the most amazing restaurant in Grantchester) so watched it when I got back on iplayer.
I agree that Jodie was too predictable as Nancy, she will play the role as it has been done so many times on film/tv, whilst Jesse would have bought something new to the role. Oh well, at least it will save us both some money as I was going to take Mum but don't fancy it now Jodie has won.

picperfic said...

I am with you over the Nancy thingy...! Didn't they dismiss Jessie quickly too? After all the hard work I was so sad for her. I am sure Jessie will be snapped up for another production though and go on to do more than Jodie in the end.

I am exhausted reading about all the musical encounters you have had. You do find yourself some entertaining and not too costly things to do. You are a good girl Rosie, I love your independence :^)

Probably Jane said...

They didn't play any of Wham!'s greatest hits then?

Sometimes the greatest pleasures are the ones that come by chance. I'm glad you had such a wonderful time.