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OF THE MONTH
OF THE MONTH Ludwig
van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5
Mikhail Pletnev (piano); Russian National
Orchestra/Christian Gansch rec. 2006
4777475 [3 CDs:
67:52 + 63:42 + 37:45][JFL]
the finds of the year ... see Full
OF THE MONTH Victoria
of the Wind; Symphony
in Love; Im
Orchestra/Mats Rondin rec.
PHONO SUECIA PSCD171 [62:19][BBr]
of the very highest order – an exciting composer
... see Full
OF THE MONTH Benjamin
Billy Budd (1951) Ian Bostridge
- Nathan Gunn
London Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding rec.
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5 190392 [3 CDs: 23:00
+ 63:01 + 79:41]
changed the whole way I listen to Billy Budd
... see Full
OF THE MONTH Philippe
Symphonie; Les Chants de la mer; Concert
Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Marc
Soustrot rec. 2008
TIMPANI 1C1135 [70:16][RB]
heartland of French late-romantic nationalism
... see Full
OF THE MONTH William
LAWES (1602-1645) The
Maxine Eilander (harp); Les Voix Humaines
ATMA ACD22372 [76:26][KS]
music-making … A delight for music-lovers
of all stripes ... see Full
OF THE MONTH Pavel
LUKASZEWSKI (b. 1968) Choral
The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge/Stephen
Layton rec. 2007
HYPERION CDA67639 [66:22][JQ]
outstanding introduction to a significant
voice in contemporary choral music ... see
OF THE MONTH Jean-Baptiste
LULLY (1632-1687) Psyché
Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra and
Chorus/Paul O'Dette rec. 2007
CPO 7773672 [3 CDs: 50:06 + 57:28 + 66:08][MS]
and approachable … interesting and unusual
... see Full
OF THE MONTH Giacomo
– 1924) La
bohème (1896) Mirella Freni
(soprano) – Mimi; Luciano Pavarotti (tenor)
– Rodolfo); Elizabeth Harwood (soprano) –
Musetta; Rolando Panerai (baritone) – Marcello;
Gianni Maffeo (baritone) – Schaunard; Nicolai
Ghiaurov (bass) – Colline; Michel Sénéchal
(tenor) – Benoit; Alcindoro; Gernot Pietsch
(tenor) – Parpignol; Hans-Dietrich Pohl (bass)
– Customs official; Hans-Dieter Appelt (bass)
– Customs sergeant Schöneberger Sängerknaben;
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Berliner Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan
rec. Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, October
1972 Italian libretto and English, German
and French translations enclosed Includes
bonus CD: Mirella Freni in conversation with
DECCA 478 0254 [54:37 + 55:46]
of the greatest opera recordings of all time!
OF THE MONTH Piano music of Roger
Sessions and Ralph Shapey Roger
SESSIONS (1896-1985) Sonatas
Nos 1 & 3 Ralph
SHAPEY (1921-2002) Mutations;
Mutations II; 21 Variations
David Holzman (piano) rec. 2007
BRIDGE 9243 [79:31][MS]
rather special. Expert, perceptive and technically
brilliant ... see Full
OF THE MONTH
- A Century of French Song
Susan Graham (mezzo) Malcolm Martineau (piano)
rec. 2008, DDD French texts and English translations
ONYX 4030 [77:34] Trial it: Sale or
disc provides unalloyed pleasure and is not
to be missed. ... see Full
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
for Brass Band by Richard
Rodney BENNETT (b. 1935), Kenneth
HESKETH (b. 1968), George
BENJAMIN (b. 1960), Judith
BINGHAM (b. 1952) and Philip
WILBY (b. 1949)
Foden’s Richardson Band/Bramwell Tovey rec.
NMC D142 [72:54][CT]
works, magnificently played by Foden’s ...
see Full Review
OF THE MONTH
BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Aaron
for the Common Man, Clarinet Concerto,
Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo, Appalachian
David Shifrin (clarinet) Saint Louis SO/Leonard
CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 2282762 [79:13]
truly outstanding issue packed with great
things ... see Full
OF THE MONTH Cristóbal
Queramus cum pastoribus etc. Jean
(before 1459–1522) Queramus cum
The Choir of Westminster Cathedral/James
O’Donnell rec. 1992
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55276 [65:25][BW]
close to perfection ... and at a budget
price ... see Full
OF THE MONTH The
Tallis Scholars Sing Tudor Music: Volume
1 CD 1 John
BROWNE (d.1505) Salve regina
I [13:23] Stabat iuxta [12:25]
Stabat mater [15:56] O regina
mundi clara [13:55] O Maria salvatoris
CORNYSH (d.1523) Gaude virgo
mater Christi [5:30] CD 2 John
TAVERNER (c.1490-1545) Western
Wind Mass [32:23] William
CORNYSH Salve regina [13:53]
Ave Maria, mater Dei [3:13] Christopher
TYE (c.1505-c.1573) Western
Wind Mass [27:19]
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec.
Salle Church, Norfolk, 1988 (Cornysh), 1993
(Taverner, Tye), 2005 (Browne). DDD. Booklet
with notes, texts and translations.
GIMELL CDGIM209 [76:42 + 76:50]
OF THE MONTH The Tallis Scholars
Sing Tudor Music: Volume 2 CD 1
John SHEPPARD (c.1515-1558) Media
vita [21:45] Christe redemptor omnium
[4:46] Reges Tharsis [5:04] Sacris
solemniis [7:32] In manus tuas
I [3:28] In manus tuas II [2:56]
In manus tuas III [2:54] Verbum
caro [6:57] Western Wind Mass
[20:33] CD 2 Thomas
TALLIS (c.1505-1585) In ieiunio
et fletu [4:44] O salutaris hostia
[3:02] O nata lux [2:06] Robert
WHITE (c.1538-1574) Magnificat
[14:48] Portio mea [7:15] Regina
cæli [3:57] Christe, qui lux
es III [4:55] Christe, qui lux es
IV [5:08] Exaudiat te Dominus [9:46]
Lamentations (5vv.) [22:05]
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec.
Salle Church, Norfolk, 1989 (Sheppard, except
Mass), 1992 (Tallis), 1993 (Sheppard Mass),
1995 (White). DDD. Booklet with notes, texts
GIMELL CDGIM 210 [75:58 + 77:48]
performances and unbelievable value ...
OF THE MONTH Alexander
ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Three Pieces
for Cello and Piano; Sonata
in A minor for Cello and Piano; Trio in D Minor for Clarinet, Cello and
Othmar Muller (cello); Ernst Ottensamer
(clarinet); Christopher Hinterhuber (piano)
NAXOS 8.570540 [64:21][JWi]
rather than merely pleasant ... see Full
for alphabetical listings by composer:
1 New] [Part
2 A-B] [Part 3
[Part 4 M-R] [Part
[Part 6 Misc A-L]
[Part 7 Misc M-Z]
a period of three years from December 2003,
I have spent a lot of time in the company
of Harry Partch – not literally, of course,
as he died in 1974, but working my way though
an article and some eight reviews that can
all be found on MusicWeb. Then, at the MusicWeb
annual lunch (January 2007), the name of John
Cage caught my ear. For reasons that my subconscious
was not prepared to divulge, my curiosity
was tickled. Partch and Cage have on occasion
been paired off, as a sort of American "Debussy
and Ravel" – was there any real connection
may come as a bit of an anticlimax but, other
than them both being American originals with
"far-out" ideas, I can’t really
think of one. In fact, they are more on the
lines of diametric opposites: with my tongue
ever-so-slightly in my cheek, I could say
that Partch was a seminal genius who got branded
as a crackpot, and Cage was a crackpot who
got branded as a seminal genius.
Cage (1912-92) was nothing if not controversial.
With his rise to prominence, an obliging World
split into two opposing camps. His supporters
saw him as a prime mover in the fields of
experimental and electronic music, with abiding
interests in "chance music", new
ways of using traditional instruments, and
practical application of his Zen Buddhist
detractors, the more radical of whom would
have preferred the "nothing" option,
complained that he just made a lot of silly
noise, did unspeakable things to the private
parts of otherwise perfectly respectable musical
instruments, and came up with a load of airy-fairy
claptrap to justify his bizarre buffoonery.
who was renowned for his considered and candid
conclusions, didn’t have too high an opinion
of Cage: "When he was younger, I found
him rather charming, albeit shallow. Then
later, when he was famed for the opening of
doors to musical insight, I found myself obliged
to use the word ‘charlatan’ . . . Pretty sounds
do not necessarily make significant music,
and serious words frequently cloak hokum .
. . I’m all for common sounds as valid materials
[but] one has to have control, so that
his common sounds will mean something. . .
I feel that anyone who brackets me with Cage
is bracketing actual music with metaphysical
theories, and what I think is a serious effort
with exhibitionism." [Letter to Ben Johnston,
1952, reproduced in Innova Enclosure 3]
is right – the "pro" camp or the
"anti"? You tell me. The only opinions
I can voice with any certainty are that Cage
was not really a crackpot – even if he did
give that impression to his detractors – and
in all probability he caused the expenditure
of as much hot air as all the other Twentieth
Century composers put together.
instance, during the late 1960s, when I was
a university student, Cage was a hot topic
for many an informal debate over a pint or
six of a Saturday night in the pub. It’s true,
I swear! Granted, we also debated rather coarser
matters, interspersed with lots of "rugby
songs", but there was no two ways about
it – in those heady days, Cage was about as
"right on" and as "far out,
man" as you could get.
was even possible – but only just – for intense
arguments over Four Minutes and Thirty-Three
Seconds to distract our juvenile minds
from contemplating the aesthetics of passing
bits of mini-skirt! Yet, no matter how much
the said work of art – if that’s how you choose
to define it – resonated with the mood of
the Sixties, it’s as well to remember that
it was written quite a while earlier, in 1952,
while the hippy generation was just learning
to manage without nappies!
as much as anything, fuelled the long-running
furore over the definition of "music",
a lot of the argument being similar to a much
earlier debate amongst mathematicians, over
whether "0", being "nothing",
could be counted as a number. For those odd
few who don’t already know, 4’33"
is the work where the pianist lifts the keyboard
lid, sits perfectly still for a while, then
shuts the lid – the cue, I presume, for a
storm of applause.
the idea for the piece resulted from a visit
to an anechoic chamber. Cage, never particularly
conventional in his approach to music, explained
that he wanted to hear what silence "sounded"
like. Really? And here am I, expecting that
he was at the very least hoping to establish
conclusively, "What is the sound of one
hand clapping?" Mind you, that’s always
struck me a daft question – shouldn’t you
first ask, "Is it possible for
one hand to clap?"
Cage was surprised to find that he didn’t
hear "nothing". Instead he heard
the real sound of his blood pumping and the
virtual sounds generated by his own auditory
system. Thus, having realised the impossibility
of complete silence, at least in the ears
of the perceiver, he fashioned 4’33"
supposedly to demonstrate that fact to the
rest of us. Presumably, he wasn’t aware that
Smetana, to the ultimate cost of his sanity,
had already answered that one.
surprises me is that he found this surprising.
What doesn’t surprise me, not one bit,
is that in 2002 Cage’s publishers sued composer
Mike Batt – he of "Wombles of Wimbledon
Common" fame – for plagiarism! Batt,
you see, had included in his album Classical
Graffiti a silent track. It wasn’t, as
you might expect, Batt’s "One Minute
Silence" that got their danders up, but
the fact that he’d credited the track to "Cage/Batt".
Unbelievable? Well, it was reported by the
BBC, so it must be true, mustn’t it?
surprise, to me anyway, is that 4’33"
exists in at least two versions. The one most
commonly played – and I use that term reservedly
– is the "Tacet" version. This had
three movements, which are usually played
attacca, so as to save time messing
about with the keyboard lid, and each is marked
simply tacet but is of course otherwise
Cage insisted that he originally composed
a much more complex piece in "small units
of silent rhythmic durations which, when summed,
equal the duration of the title". He
also thought that he might have made a mistake
in the summation. I harbour doubts about this,
because originally the work had no specified
duration – the first performance happened
to take 4’33", and that stuck. I also
doubt whether it matters – would all this
"complexity" have had any significant
effect on the work as perceived by its audience?
is also a somewhat apocryphal theory that
the title refers to the "absolute zero"
of temperature, -273° C, on the grounds that
4’33’’ = 273 seconds. This is, at best, a
specious connection, particularly as it conveniently
sweeps under the carpet both the minus sign,
a small matter of 0.15 C°, and the
fact that the duration of 4’33" was completely
it persists in attracting certain people –
presumably those who, for reasons best known
to themselves, not only insist on ignoring
the fact but also perceive a relationship
between 1 second of time and -1 degree of
the Celsius temperature scale. I have a feeling
that these same folk would look at you daft
– and completely miss your point – if you
asked them how many furlongs equal one apple
pi plus 3.1418 nutty fruitcakes.
as this "theory" is, ironically
it does suggest a connection between
4’33" and another piano work of
Cage’s, ASLSP (1985). The title stands
for "As SLow aS Possible" – I’ll
leave you to ponder on why ASLSP was preferred
over the straightforward acronym ASAP, and
why it camouflages an otherwise obvious grammatical
error. I gather that a typical performance
takes about 20 minutes and, because it’s very
slow, the piano notes have plenty of time
to die away completely.
you stretch your fancy a bit, you could imagine
a decaying note being akin to the decline
of thermal activity as absolute zero is approached.
So, when the note reaches its "absolute
zero", what do you hear? Simple – an
"excerpt" from 4’33"! Neat,
eh? Personally, I find myself torn between
smug satisfaction at the plausibility of what
I’ve just said, and embarrassment at how easy
it was to pull philosophical wool over my
own eyes, never mind yours.
get back to the tale: in 1987, Cage adapted
ASLSP for the organ, to bestow upon the World
his Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow
aS Possible). Whilst this improved
the continuity of what must have seemed a
fairly disjointed piece, it substantially
undermined the entire "absolute zero"
argument (boo!). Life is full of surprises,
for I have so far found no mention of any
subsequent storms in academic teacups over
whether an indefinitely-sustained, constant
sound is really a sound at all, or merely
a recalibration of "zero".
inevitably as day follows night, these works
– or rather their tempo marking – provoked
profound musicological cerebration. At rock
bottom, it boiled down to this: no matter
how long the performer takes, he cannot help
but fail to observe the most important marking
in the entire score – that of the basic tempo.
With time stretching from Now to Plus Infinity,
20 minutes has got to be way too fast. I wonder,
why do people always have to rush everything
these days? Well, it turns out that they don’t,
not always. Read on.
five years after Cage’s death, it got really
"heavy, man". In 1997 a conference
of musicologists and philosophers was convened,
almost exclusively to indulge in an orgy of
in-depth discussion of the implications of
this tempo marking, particularly in view of
the fact that an organ theoretically imposes
no time limits.
speaking, the conference concluded that ASLSP
could actually be quite a lot slower than
that 20 minutes. Having cracked this singularly
knotty philosophical nut, the wielders of
the weighty sledgehammer moved on – to address,
with commensurate delicacy, a burden of proof
lying beaten and bruised amongst the shattered
bet that Cage – by all accounts a genial,
charming and fun-loving chap who regarded
his life’s work as "purposeful play"
– would have been laughing his socks off in
his grave when the conference solemnly decided
to establish a "practical" project.
To prove how much more slowly the piece could
be played, they planned a performance of Organ²/ASLSP
that would last for, not an hour, not a day,
not even a week, but 639 years. No, that is
not a typographical error. Roll it
around your brain: six hundred and thirty-nine
years. [Health and Safety warning: if you
feel your brain starting to melt, stop thinking
immediately, flush the inside of your head
with plenty of cold water, and seek immediate
this juncture, I start to wish that Cage had
scored the work for a phial containing a radioactive
isotope, which could then have been buried
in a time-capsule to mark the commencement
of the performance. This would have had the
added advantage that nobody would have had
to listen to any of it. Sadly, he didn’t,
because if he had it would have saved an awful
lot of bother.
choice of playing time is easily explained,
as it is intended to reflect the age of the
instrument on which it is performed. Hence,
subtract the year in which the first church
organ seems to have been built, 1361, from
the year that the "performance"
was scheduled to start, 2000. From this simple
bit of arithmetic the planners extrapolated
a mystical arch, stretching from the time
that the organ was invented, and symmetrically
straddling what – you may recall – we used
to call "the Millennium".
planning a performance of such gargantuan
span required a fair bit of time and effort.
For starters, someone had to calculate a timetable,
detailing the dates on which the notes are
started and stopped. This isn’t as simple
as it sounds because, for example, leap years
and double-leap years have to be taken into
account. Then, they needed somewhere to play
it. The location chosen was St. Burchardi’s
Church in Halberstadt, Germany. This was a
nice, even sentimental touch, because St.
Burchardi’s is where the very first proper
church organ was installed.
we get another connection, albeit tenuous,
to Harry Partch. One of the reasons that this
organ was "proper" was that its
keyboard was the first with twelve keys to
the octave. Partch famously called the inauguration
of this organ "the fatal day of Halberstadt"
because – as far as he was concerned
– it marked the start of Man’s slide down
the slippery slope into the Desolation of
Twelve-tone Equal Temperament.
sentimental touch was also an expensive touch
because, over the last 190 years, the said
church had been variously used as "a
barn, a hovel, a distillery and a sty".
Disused and dilapidated, it first needed extensive
restoration – and a new organ! However, because
it would be fully booked for the first 639
years of its life, this new organ was designed
and built specifically for this performance.
Actually, that’s not quite correct: rather,
it is being built. Taking advantage
of the very broad basic tempo, the planners
have gained a certain "efficiency"
by phasing the building work to proceed in
parallel with the performance.
performance itself is a bit of a cheat, because
at any given time the notes currently sounding
are held down mechanically by the "autonomous"
organ. So, unless a key is scheduled for depression
or release, there’s nobody actually playing
the music. Alright, maybe I’m being a
bit unrealistic but I’m no more picky here,
about the definition of "performance",
than many members of the Cage camp are about
the definition of "music" or "composition".
leave you to wonder about "routine"
matters such as arrangements for the "heredity"
of performing personnel, or securing the "performance"
against mechanical or electrical failures,
acts of God, war or insurrection, or any of
the other myriad contingencies under which
your house insurer refuses to shell out. Instead,
let’s look briefly at the progress of the
was on 5 September 2001, Cage’s 90th.
birthday. This was a year late, but in the
long run I don’t suppose it’ll make much difference,
except to astrologers and sundry other mystics.
In the 17 months required to "play"
the first bar’s opening rest, the organ of
course emitted no sound. In other words, we
started with 163,938 consecutive complete
performances of 4’33", give or
take the odd one or two.
first sound, which emerged on 5 February 2003,
continued unchanged – apart from the addition
of the octave doubling of one note on 5 July
2004 – for fully two years and five months.
And so it dragged on. Currently (April 2007),
the chord A3-C4-F sharp4 is sounding, and
will continue so to do until it completes
its six-and-a-half year run on 5 July 2012.
Thereafter, though, things start to get really
exciting, so watch this space.
the anti-Cage camp be inspired to seize their
quill pens and write letters of complaint
to the Times, or even the Radio Times, we
must get one thing absolutely clear. John
Cage had no part whatsoever in this project.
For one thing, the planning and management
of the project, which must meticulously detail
every last jot and tittle, would have run
contrary to his aleatoric principles. For
another, I doubt that this lovable and fun-loving
man would have found much fun in the wall-to-wall
deadly seriousness of it all. The discussions
of his tempo marking, and the project spawned
by them, all arose only after his death –
so please don’t go blaming Cage for any of
so, it almost goes without saying that Cage
would have hugely enjoyed all the controversy.
More than anything in the history of music
this – what Cage would have called a "happening"
if it had been played for laughs – has polarised
opinion, if not quite to the extent of "pistols
at dawn", then not far short of that.
It is either an awe-inspiring enterprise or
a preposterous waste of time and effort. There
is no middle ground, so if you’re still sitting
on the fence, get off it at once.
weighed many of the arguments pro and con.
However, the reason that I’ve come down on
the "anti" side of the fence has
nothing to do with any of these. In my opinion,
and to the best of my current knowledge, the
entire exercise is based on a seriously flawed
that the deliberations of that learned conference
were blinkered by the mechanics of
going "as slowly as possible". Yet,
Cage wrote a piece of music. It is
pretty well axiomatic that the entire raison
d’être of music is to be performed.
Regardless of whether the performers are people
or machines, the sole purpose of performance
is to create an object of human perception.
Indeed, Cage’s Zen beliefs might well have
prompted him to ask, "Does music really
exist if there’s no-one there to hear it?"
Certainly, unless you’re a follower of Descartes,
sound exists independently of any observer,
but for music to exist there must be
an observer – a listener – who implicitly
understands that it is music.
the science of mechanics, the motion of an
object can be arbitrarily slow. However, because
music is an object of human perception, it
can be said to be "moving" only
if its observers can perceive its motion.
Even the mandarins of the BBC in the 1950s
understood this – it was the principle underlying
Music and Movement, a sort of primer
of ballet and mime which in those days was
broadcast to schools, thereby inflicting eternal,
squirming embarrassment on hapless real "small
boys" such as myself.
there can be an accidental "logic"
in mechanical sounds, logic is one of the
defining characteristics of music. You could
even say that perception of this logic is
the key to the door on all the wonderful things
music does to our minds and hearts. In particular,
the speed of music is not "the number
of notes per unit time", but the rate
of progression of the logic – a distinction
that Ligeti, for one, explored to stunning
one more step to take. If we progressively
slow down a piece of music, the events that
define the music’s logic get further apart.
Is there a point beyond which we can no longer
sense the logical flow? This depends on memory.
As long as we can remember "the story
so far" – or at the very least the previous
logical step – then we stand a chance of making
sense of the current one. This limiting interval
between logical events is, I suspect, shorter
than we might imagine – taking an educated
guess, I’d say it lies somewhere in the region
of the listener’s attention span. Go
much beyond that with nothing new coming in,
and the average mind, bored out of its skull,
will conclude that nothing is happening and
turn its attention elsewhere.
similar reasons, there is a corresponding
limitation on performers: if they go too slowly,
they will lose track of the measure of the
music. Hence, Cage’s title-cum-tempo-marking
ought to read something like "As Slow(ly)
as is Humanly Possible". We may
argue over exactly how slow this might be,
but I doubt that anyone could come up with
a convincing argument that the tempo chosen
for the ASLSP Project is anywhere near the
right ball-park. I suspect that even Treebeard
would fail to find it "hasty".
I were to be blunt, I’d say that a piece of
music that takes going on for ten standard
lifetimes to perform is about as useful to
us as a chocolate fireguard. The whole thing
could have been achieved with much less hassle
and a sight more cheaply, but with every bit
as much "meaning", if 4’33"
had been stretched to fill 639 years. All
it needed was a large "egg-timer"
stopwatch – powered, of course, by thoroughly
"green" solar panels – and situated
in (say) Tibet. As far as I’m concerned, this
is all just a wee bit over the top, just to
get an entry in the 2641 edition of The
Guinness Book of Records.
for better or for worse, the project’s up
and running, at least until such time as the
last person who is interested in keeping it
going gets bored with it. To quench your thirst
for excitement, you can go to the web-site
and eavesdrop on the "current sound".
If you doubt the validity of my arguments,
I can almost guarantee that 20 seconds of
this will change your mind. However, if you
gamely persist for a further 10 seconds or
so, you may get a bit of a surprise. I did.
pursuing my duty as a reviewer, I girded my
loins, gritted my teeth, and soldiered on
through the pain barrier. After a while I
noticed some "noises off". My mind
gratefully clutched at these straws, which
would have seemed meagre had I not been so
desperate. Could I make sense of them? Might
I catch a snatch of conversation (such as,
"Where’s the bloody ‘off’ switch?")?
A little while later – though it seemed like
an eternity – I heard a "catch"
in the sound, rather like the glitches you
get in streamed audio, quickly followed by
what seemed to be the same "noises
attention now riveted, my pain put on hold,
I listened on. Guess what? That’s right; after
about the same interval, it happened all over
again. This wasn’t "the current
sound", but a sample of the current
sound played in a loop. I felt a bit cheated,
not of the experience of a lifetime but mostly
of five minutes in which I could have been
doing something much more interesting, like
watching paint drying, or grass growing, or
a DVD of a teenager waking up on a Monday
morning. Heck, even the sound quality isn’t
up to much. Take a tip from me: if you want
to experience a fair reflection of the "current
sound", in decent-quality audio, induce
some mains hum in your amplifier and listen
will, of course, be a major celebration to
mark the conclusion of the project. However,
as planning is still in the very early stages,
as yet no details are available. Nevertheless,
it is generally expected that the occasion
will be marked by the release of a complete
recording in a special, de-luxe commemorative
practical reasons, it is unlikely that this
will take the form of a 4,201,107-CD
boxed set. Even shoe-horning it into a low-grade
MP3 "song" would require a file
size of somewhere in the region of 200 terabytes.
Obviously, this would make even the fanciest
of today’s MP3 players gip, but there is every
reason to be confident that technological
advances during the project’s course will
result in much more efficient and compact
the meantime, for those cats whose curiosity
is already getting the better of them there
is this CD, warmly recorded in 24-bit, high-definition
sound. This compresses the entire work into
a time-frame of around 72 minutes, which is
some 4,667,895 times faster than the projected
performance. Yet, even at this comparatively
breakneck speed, it still manages to prove
a few minutes of my undivided attention, and
in spite of my best efforts at due diligence,
I found those images of wet paint, short grass
and somnolescent teenager starting to beckon
seductively. My mind slowly drifted into dreamy
contemplation of the word "somnolescent",
becoming lulled by its lazy liquidity . .
. I awoke with a start, and re-joined the
performance. It seemed very quiet. Shortly
thereafter, I noticed the CD player, displaying
an admonishing "stopped." But don’t
let me put you off – if your attention span
is more robust than mine, you may well find
it a deeply affecting experience.
of the original piano version gallop by in
typically just over a quarter of the time.
Regardless of any help from things like sophisticated
– and silent – electronic metronomes, that
says much for the intense concentration and
immaculate control exhibited by the organists,
Bossert and Ericsson. I wish I had their stamina.