Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More wonderful music

Today we had a share out of our syndicate's lottery winnings for the year. Not much - just £35 each! However, I decided to treat myself at lunchtime. I looked through the DVD's - tempted by the reduced price Six Feet Under and West Wing DVD's but still think these will come down even more after Christmas. Even considered buying Superman Returns on DVD but I have mixed feelings about that film. So took myself off to the classical music section of Virgin.

Now here 's something I'll never understand. Why is it that the classical music section in Virgin is always partitioned off from the rest of the store? The one in MK, even has its own tills! Is it to keep the rabble out and allow the 'well-to-do' to browse for their higher class of music uninterrupted or is it an admission of some embarrassment? It seems that classical music should be tucked away and not talked about like a particularly personal medical condition.

Absolute nonsense in my view. Classical music is as egalitarian as current popular music. Okay, I am not suggesting that everyone will like or want to buy classical music, any more than I'll be rushing out anytime soon to buy the latest jazz or rap album. The point is though, it is just another valid and enriching choice in the broad spectrum of musical tastes. It doesn't need to be tucked away and hidden behind a glass screen. I think there is something almost intimidating about the fact that you are clearly walking into a demarcated - a different- part of the store.

Anyhows, I purchased three stunning bargains, which I have no shame in rambling on about now. I love classical music! Then, I also love lots of other types of music and I was thinking about this as I was making my way out of the store, singing along (in my head I hasten to add!) to Madonna and later in my local shop, Abba. In fact I think my musical tastes are quite eclectic. Lets see my CD racks are albums and singles from artists as diverse as Annie Lennox, MeatLoaf, Coolio, Abba, Bee Gees, Lionel Richie, David Gray, Nina Simone, Diana Ross, Genesis, Celine Dion and I could go on but probably shouldn't! Then the non-popular stuff like my host of soundtracks from the likes of John Williams, James Horner, Hans Zimmer, Alan Silvestri, Jerry Goldsmith etc, my classical music albums, military band music, music and songs from shows, TV themes, then the really obscure stuff like Vangelis, the BBC Olympic Theme for the Atlanta Games (Tara's Theme), The X-Files Theme single and more. So yeah, a fairly broad and some might say unusual mix there! Isn't it good though to like more than one type or style of music? I like the fact that I can pick music to match my mood and feeling.

Back to today then and I managed to get myself some great additions to my classical music collection. The first CD is Spartacus by Aram Khatchaturian. This features the fantastic Adagio of Spartacus and Phyrgia from the ballet suite, Spartacus. That particular piece is probably most familiar as the theme to the Onedin Line. The CD also includes the suties to Masquerade and Gayaneh. This is my first purchase of Khatchaturian so I am looking forward to sitting down and listening to this.

I could hardly resist adding to my collection of Mahler's symphonies so had to grab this one at a cheap price: Symphony No 9 - conducted by Sir John Barbirolli with the Berliner Philharmoniker. This is an EMI Recording of the Century dating from 1964. Before I got as interested in classical music as I am now, I thought people were being elitist when they priveliged certain recordings over others. While, I don't have an expert ear, you can tell the difference in the quality of a piece between recordings and also the tempo with which it is played is often different. Again I am looking forward to hearing this as I am a particular fan of Mahler and this was his penultimate symphony. At the time of writing he was just a few short years from his untimely death at the age of 51.

Finally, some unashamedly British music in the form of William Walton, who like Vaughan Williams, is amongst my favourites of recent contemporary British composers. This is another EMI CD opening with the rousing Spitfire Prelude and Fugue, an eternal favourite of mine and so heroically British. Also on this disc are two of my favourite marches - Crown Imperial and Orb & Sceptre, written as marches for the 1937 and 1953 coronation's respectively. There are a selection of other overtures and some of Walton's film music for Hamlet and Richard III. This is another surprisingly old recording, dating back to 1969 but the quality is excellent and fresh.

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