Tuesday, February 07, 2012

And music shall untune the sky!

It is impractical and illegal to have a shot of strong, black coffee while motoring in the rush hour on the northern ring road of Barcelona, but you can have the aural equivalent.

This morning, after setting off for work a delicious half hour later than usual, I played the first of the discs that form part of the Mercury Living Presence box set that I collected (again!) from the non-delivering deliverers.

The first disc in the collection was a performance of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” (and the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question is Hartmann) played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Kubelik. 

The Mercury sound is highlighted in this recording and the sharpness of the instrumentation is something which wakes you up in an instant!  Subtle it is not - but thoroughly enjoyable. 

The piece was not complete by the time I pulled into my usual parking space - nearest to home!  I therefore have “The Great Gate of Kiev” to come and given the rest of the performance that should match my mood of exultation as I head downwards to the shores of Castelldefels at the end of the day!  Having failed to play the trombone very well in a number of orchestras in my school days I vividly remember the triplets (of impossible height above the stave) in The Great Gate (triplets which do not occur in the original piano version I might add) which we in the brass section generally failed to play.  Ah memories!

The Great Gate was as exhilarating as I expected with the crisp sound vibrating through the car frame!  The next piece of music on the disc, however, reminded me of the bad old days as I heard the gentle hiss of extraneous noise that I had almost forgotten from even the most basic DDD CDs.  How Proustian!

An exhausting day today with another set of exam papers marked; a meeting in the morning; a written account of the rats of Hamlyn from the Piper’s point of view (with rat illustrations) and not a single moment spent on what I want to do.  It is amazing what you can do when your working environment is cleared of clients!  Two more days and then a day off.  The high point of the day was the morning break when we had croissants with dark chocolate and ginger.  As it happened I had decided to bring some of my vastly expensive Earl Grey tea.  

Most satisfactory – and with Mozart playing through my computer almost civilized!
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