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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wine's easy; music's harder

There’ll be a family lunch on Sunday at a place on the Usk road. The wine will go with a cold buffet the night before. Half a dozen Marsannay (a burgundy), two twenty-quidders from Montpeyroux  (Coteaux de Languedoc but soon due its own appellation), two Rasteau from the Rhone. The Domaine Jones is a grenache from the Cotes Catalanes and there’s a handful of pricey South Africans as proof I’m finally shedding my prejudice regarding that part of the world. No, I don’t expect to polish off the lot over the weekend.

But what about music to mark an otherwise unexceptional cypher – 77 – even if it is divisible by eleven and its rhyming partner seven? I was in town earlier today browsing Outback, Hereford’s sole source of posh sounds. Bought a DVD of Handel’s Theodora, an oratorio updated to fit into modern-day USA (I saw it four a five years ago on the BBC and, to coin a phrase, it works well). Stars the glorious Dawn Upshaw. Ordered a DVD of Strauss’s Salomé with Bryn Terfel.

But neither of these works suits my immediate mood, that of calmly (I hope) acknowledging the passage of time and the restrictions tightening on my familiar world. Is the curtain finally parting on Bruckner?

I have recordings of the second, third, fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth symphonies: rambling, repetitive, disparate works, stuffed with Austrian references and often of inordinate length (the eighth runs to 77 min). I’ve heard them all but that means very little: more important, how long have they hung in my mind as integrated pieces of music? Old age is said to encourage patience and I hope this is the case. Perhaps interspersed with slices of Janacek, a growing enthusiasm.

Watch this space.  


  1. Wish I could reccommend something that would not appear pedestrian for such an occasion. But instead I will wish you a happy birthday, and let you know that at this very moment I am listening to Django Reinhardt playigng Nuages. Not too far off the mark I suppose. Certainly calm and meditative.

  2. Missus and I are at the beach;access to the interweb depends on the kindness of kin. The rain we had on our July vacation has followed us here to the Outer Banks.
    I hope the weather is sunny and the wine is good on your birthday.Enjoy the music and your family.

  3. I wish you the happiest of birthdays, friend, and many more, to boot!

  4. Plutarch: I like to know what people are listening to. On such a small matter I can erect vast imaginary edifices. Such as: you're willing to listen to poor quality recordings provided the music's good enough. This is not a quality I've been blessed with.

    RR: To be on, close to or even under the Outer Banks is a wonderful throwaway line. Thank your kin and thank your missus. Tell her she has been much in our thoughts following her passionate account about how hard she finds it to sympathise with the anti-healthcare people.

    Crow: To boot. Hmmm. A bit of ambiguity there. But I received "friend" gladly.

  5. Happy birthday, and we are relying on you to get through as many of those bottles as possible. 77 sounds like it ought to be quite a special one.

    We enjoyed the Bruckner on the Proms, especially the first one played - can't remember its number.

  6. Crow: Oh, I was only joking.

    Lucy: Forgetting the symphony number is almost inevitable with Bruckner.