Angela Hewitt Plays…

Australia and Canada are similar countries in obvious ways, and comparisons  between them throw up interestingly different strengths. At a guess, Canada has a deeper intellectual life, the countries are about equal in literature, Australia excels at sport (for whatever that is worth), and it may be ahead in the level of its composers. But Canada surely reigns supreme in the performance of […]

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Allegri and Original Sin

I’ll never forget the first time I heard a performance of the setting of Psalm 50 (51), the Miserere mei, Deus, composed in the seventeenth century by Gregorio Allegri, a member of the papal choir and sung thereafter in the Capella Sistina. I was listening in another chapel, a dark one, and the soaring top line was sung by one of those boy sopranos […]

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Times a’Changin’

A group of friends, on the verge of leaving school, has come together for a barbeque at a campsite on the edge of town. It’s a significant time, for they are poised on the brink of independent adult life, ready to create their own identities and shape the world around them. Someone has brought a tape recorder, and as they […]

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The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge

Perhaps not as well known as the nearby choirs of St John’s, which certainly sings the best Evensongs in Cambridge, or King’s, which basks in the glory of incomparable architectural splendour, a concert during a tour of Australia showed the strength of the choir of Trinity. It began with Arvo Part’s marvellously fast paced Bogoroditse Djevo, that already sounds a though it has always […]

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Piers Lane plays Chopin

It was wonderful hearing a product of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music who has gone on to become an international star, Piers Lane, play a number of Chopin’s piano pieces with panache and sensitivity. The concert hall was lit by candles in an attempt to suggest the ambience of a salon of the early nineteenth century that may have been more clever than convincing,  […]

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George Steiner on Music

All I know is that music is a sine qua non in my existence. It reinsures what I sense to be, or rather search for in the transcendental…Neither psychoanalysis nor deconstruction nor post-modernism  have had anything revelatory to say about music. This is crucial. These language games of subversive decipherment, of suspicion in the wake of Nietzsche and Freud, are virtually impotent before music. […]

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De Musica

…music heard so deeply That it is not heard at all, but you are the music While the music lasts. (T. S. Elliott) In a time of darkness the pattern of life is restored By me  who make all transience seem an illusion Through inward acts, acts corresponding to music Their works of love leave words that do not end […]

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The Goldner String Quartet play Ligeti

It’s always good to be introduced to a new composer, and a quartet by the Hungarian György Ligeti of 1953/54 superbly played by the Goldner Quartet proved a fascinating introduction to his work. It’s an intense piece, spare and dissonant while remaining tonal. Doubtless Ligeti’s style owes something to a need to define himself against Bartok, a towering figure in Hungarian music, but the political […]

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Alessandro Striggio and Thomas Tallis

My friends keep educating me, and the unexpected arrival of a CD of music performed by the excellent British group I Fagionini has introduced me to a new composer, Alessandro Striggio, a Mantuan of the sixteenth century. One of his pieces composed in the 1560s is a forty-part motet Ecce beatam lucem in which a Latin text by a Protestant composer, […]

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