Sunday, 26 May 2013

sweet music

Sometimes, when things go your way, you know that later on they won't.  So I delighted in Radio 3's Baroque Spring earlier this year.  I love the Baroque, much more than the Systems Administrator, and out of deference to the SA's feelings I only occasionally put Scarlatti or Soler on the CD player in the evenings.  It was a real treat to be able to flick on Radio 3 at any hour of the day, and weed and prune to the strains of Boccherini or one of the Bachs.

Now it's payback time, and Radio 3 is doing Wagner.  I'm not a huge Wagner fan, apart from the scene in Apocalypse Now when the helicopters are swooping in for attack.  Wagner absorbed a great hunk of Rob Cowan's show in the morning, and all of this afternoon was given over to Lohengrin.  If somebody would take me to Glyndebourne, and I could sit through Lohengrin wearing an extremely glamorous evening dress (not that I possess such a thing) while being continuously plied with champagne and smoked salmon, I wouldn't mind watching Lohengrin just once, for the experience, but I don't want to listen to it on the radio while I'm weeding.

Venturing out across the digital airwaves, it was a great surprise and pleasure to discover that Charlotte Green can now be found on Classic FM on Sunday afternoons, introducing a great composer.  Today's subject was Felix Mendelsshon.  I like Mendelsshon, and I adore Charlotte Green.  I've missed only hearing her doing the clips on the odd News Quiz, since she gave up regular R4 continuity work.  The programme format assumes that the listener knows practically nothing about the composer's life or work, but Charlotte Green sounds so nice that I didn't mind being talked to as though I were a slightly slow eleven year old, and in truth I don't know much about Mendelsshon.  As it was Charlotte I was even ready to forgive her mentioning the name of the radio station every three minutes or so.  Mendelsshon's work, tuneful, upbeat, and downright pretty, is excellent music for weeding to on a sunny day when you have loads to do.

Satie is very good for winter pruning, by the way. There is something about the meditative, mournful cadences of the Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes which exactly suits the moment, standing outside in temperatures only a few degrees about freezing, and contemplating which stems to remove.

At five I thought I'd see if there was any news on Radio 4, but what I got was Face the Facts, an investigation into drug resistant superbugs.  I suppose Face the Facts always has the five o'clock slot on Sundays, and thinking about it I often catch the second part of it in the car on the way home from work, when we finish at five rather than six.  But today is Bank Holiday Sunday.  Do people really want to think about drug resistant superbugs in the middle of their holiday weekend, or wouldn't they prefer something a little more cheerful?  I retreated back to Classic FM and their classical chart.

My aunt, who is a professional musician, cannot understand why I listen to music while working in the garden.  Was gardening so boring, she enquired.  She doesn't like music to be used as a background to other activities, and refuses to have it playing in her studio when she teaches Pilates.  Gardening is not boring at all, but routine maintenance leaves enough of one's brain over to be able to think about something else as well.  I use radio programmes partly as samplers, and if I like a composer or piece I can buy the album, and listen to it properly.  Though that's easier with the Romantics (big enthusiastic tick from the SA) than the Baroque, or Haydn and Schubert string quartets (boring according to the SA).

My bank holiday weekend comes to a halt tonight, since I'm working tomorrow as usual.  The thought that I am on double time will sustain me.

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