Unfortunately I think I've either lost or since disposed of my old 35mm portable film camera and I doubt that you can actually buy camera's which accept film these days. Its a pity as I feel I would like to do slides again and build up bit more of a collection and certainly more varied than the ones I took in the 90s. And slides are economical too as the cost of processing is included when you buy the film. I seem to remember that the box used to include a small envelope that you sent off your finished film in and then about a week or two later it would come back, with a neatly packaged box of slides. Wonderful!
I learnt not for the first time today that not all things that are cheap are necessarily that good. I need to get some new earphones for my iPod as the ones supplied are knackered. Well, it is only the left earpiece that is falling apart and while it is usable it isn't particularly comfortable. So, I thought I'd buy myself some new earphones and the cheapest I saw were £3.99 in Woolworths. They are dreadful, the sound sounds distorted and muffled and they are very uncomfortable as they are of an 'in-ear' design. Wish I'd saved myself the four quid and saved up for a decent pair. Thus, I will have to soldier on with the old earphones for now until I can afford to get some decent ones.
I noticed on Monday that Classic FM have started a CD-series called 'The Full Works' which is exclusively available at HMV. Seems to be a similar idea to Naxos - top quality recordings of classical music on a budget label. Sounds a bit of a contradiction I know but from what I can make out the Classic FM CD's feature quite old or previously released recordings, so that is presumably how they can package them cheaply but I thought they are a great way to explore new works my familiar composers or to even try something new, after all £6 is reasonable for a CD these days.
There was a rather good documentary on BBC 4 the Friday before last about Ralph Vaughan Williams, who died 50 years ago this year. Arguably one of the finest British composers, maybe some would say even better than Elgar, this interesting documentary concentrated on the women in his life, that so inspired his work. It revealed a lot about the man and his passions and it was refreshing to hear that this was a composer whose life wasn't marked so much by tragedy and sadness as by joy and passion to his last days.
A piece of music that I have 'discovered' recently and particularly like, even though it is perhaps one of the saddest and depressing works I've heard, is Henryck Gorecki's Third Symphony, subtitled 'The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.' I know very little about it other than I understand it was written to express the pain and suffering of the Polish nation during World War II and the most popular recording features the soprano Dawn Upshaw. It is a three-movement work for orchestra and soprano and each movement is blindingly beautiful and tragic. It is three laments or songs, each sung in Polish and heart-wrenching nonetheless. I wish there was an English translation with the CD. I recognised the Second Movement, as part of this was used in Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution.
On a happier note, I am also exploring works by Rachmaninov, who wrote some wonderful and romantic pieces for piano and also the Danish-composer Carl Nielson, whose Fourth Symphony I particularly like.