Monteverdi’s madrigals. Formless beauty.

The release this month of Delitiae Musicae’s final volume in their Monteverdi Madrigals series affords the opportunity to do a brief survey of each of the nine books of the composer’s madrigals that were published. Each volume in Delitiae Musicae’s edition is accompanied by authoritative notes by their conductor Marco Longhini, from which the following Read More …

Heard but not seen. An organist’s box of tricks.

Our January 25 blog featured a brief mix of the history and repertoire of the organ. It highlighted the loud, grandiose and often clichéd sound of which the instrument is capable, one which has served horror film scores and The Phantom of the Opera well. The blog’s reference to early organs in China might also Read More …

Long live the King (of instruments!)

Organ recitals aren’t the most user-friendly events for getting familiar with repertoire. The instrument is rooted to where it was born, usually a church, where the performer is rarely in the sight-line and the seating is on the Spartan side. So, I thought a blog on introducing organ music to newcomers to the instrument might Read More …

Amplified by the power of zero.

Mozart is reckoned to have posited that silence, paradoxically, is the most powerful element in music. And I once read that, while there’s one particular zone of your brain that is stimulated when an object starts to produce a sound, it’s a different part that reacts when a clock, for example, ceases its tick-tock and Read More …

Couperin @ 350

We shouldn’t ring out the year without noting that 2018 marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of the French Baroque composer, François Couperin (1668-1733). He was known as le grand to distinguish him from an uncle of the same name, and emerged as the most accomplished member of a large family of musicians, officially Read More …

Stocking fillers

The Greatest Story Ever Told, George Stevens’ epic film depicting the life of Christ, received mixed reviews. It continued to do so more than forty years after its release, the Guardian opining on Christmas Day 2009 that ” …  it suffers in the retelling. With such inherently dramatic source material, George Stevens’s cameo-packed 1965 dramatisation Read More …

In the wrong place at the wrong time.

When I decided to focus this week’s blog on the end of World War I, the centenary of which is marked this Sunday, Armistice Day, little did I think I’d be opening with a Franz Liszt connection and continuing with sketches of a group of musicians who were simply in the wrong place at the Read More …

Cleopatra’s needled?

Well, I think I might be if I knew that the three obelisks generally referred to as Cleopatra’s Needles, sited in London, Paris and New York, had nothing to do with me, perhaps the most famous queen of all time. Constructed a thousand years before Cleopatra’s lifetime, they at least stand as a popular memento Read More …

Long to rain over us

If, like me, you abhor rain and its associated displeasures, you may already be rejoicing in the 195th anniversary of a miraculous event that occurred on the date of this publication in 1823: Charles Macintosh (1766-1843), a Scottish chemist, sold his first raincoat. Layers of cloth sandwiched a rubber substance that kept the unwelcome intrusion Read More …