pure joy

After reading Horatio Clare’s writing up of his walk to lubeck for Radio3 in 2017, I’ve picked up John Eliot Gardiner’s biography of Bach again. Each chapter could be a journal article in its own right and his examination of the two cantata cycles that Bach wrote for Leipzig are so engaging I’ve had to keep listening along to YouTube as I read. This is one of my favourites that I’ve discovered in recent weeks.

Leontyne Price and memory lane

Stunning. Price was one of the great operatic sopranos of the 20th century, but listen to how halfway through she displays some rich, completely assured notes that any alto would be proud of. Even if you think opera isn’t your thing, this is worth 2 minutes of anyone’s time. Finally, if this puts you in the mood for more great singers, see if you can find Sean Rafferty’s interviews with Janet Baker and John Tomlinson on the bbc i-player from over Christmas.

Paris opera

Not sure what to feel about this. On the one hand, wonderful dancing that exposes the ultimately martial purpose of the ballets central to the French Court from Louis XIV on, and choreography that makes Rameau’s music feel fresh. On the other, his is music described as the air for the savages and the opera’s decidedly uncomfortable racial imagery – unsurprising for the 1730s – is replicated here in modern-day France’s uneasiness with its colonial history.

Collect impressions

“Collect impressions. Don’t be in a hurry to write them down. Because that’s something music can do better than painting; it can centralise variations of colour and light within a single picture – a truth generally ignored, obvious as it is.”

Debussy in a letter to a pupil, 1906

Nesting

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A friend told me about The Nest Collective and their fireside music clubs. Intriguing as a night singing with the Nightingales sounds, or a campfire (assuming there are cushions with the logs) sounds, I’m most taken by their world music gigs of post-Soviet rap (hmm, well in theory) and West-African/Carribean tunes.

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Old folk, new folk, no folk.

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