This is the 114th posting in this series and it marks the end of our second year. The first forty one blogs began with ‘Sounding Off’ on 3rd May 2005 and were all about Spanish music and artists. We then moved on to the wider musical scene, with my personal reflections on particular concerts I have been to, and sharing my enthusiasm for composers and artists for whose music I have a special affection. Even so, we kept on returning to our origins, and scattered around there are additional postings on Spanish themes such as Gitano music and music sung on the pilgrim way to Santiago, with return visits to Rodrigo, Albeniz and Domingo, as well as three reflections on nationalism in music. The number of people who visit us suggests that I am not just talking to myself. Thank you for ‘listening’. Comments are always welcome.
It must be obvious to anyone reading these blogs that I am no expert, although since we started on them I have learned quite a lot. But appreciation doesn’t have to be the same as knowledge, and in the end I belong to the ‘ I know what I like’ sort of musical enthusiast, although recognising that there is always something new to learn.
For example I have always found Johann Sebastian Bach difficult to appreciate. He just seems to go on and on – technically brilliant, to me he has often felt emotionally dry, although I know aficionados of his music would cry ‘shame’ on such a judgement. But a few days ago I heard the master-pianist Murray Perahia play his Partita No.2 in C minor and was overwhelmed by its crystalline beauty. Hearing it was a benediction; a deeply moving, cleansing and purifying experience. It demands of me that I now listen to Bach with a less prejudiced ear.
There is a considerably more significant anniversary in a month’s time. Edward Elgar was born on June 2nd. 1857.
The 150th anniversary is being marked by a surge of performances of his music. In Birmingham, for example. His oratorio ‘The Dream of Gerontius’ was given its first – under-rehearsed- performance there, and making reparation for that poor beginning, the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus are performing the work in Symphony Hall on June 1st. As if that wasn’t enough they are also performing his other less well- known oratorios, ‘The Apostles’ and ‘The Kingdom’ on the two following nights. Some marathon!
More about Elgar next time.