Just call me ‘Basil’…

http://www.curlingrules.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/curling-broom.jpgIn case any of my friends has been looking for an objective — indeed, quantitative — demonstration of just how close to ‘total’ is my lack of interest in games and sports of every kind, I can provide the following helpful fact…

This evening, driving home, I spent fully three minutes racking my brains, trying to recall the name of that absurd winter sport in which someone projects a heavy granite weight across a sheet of ice — while a crowd of other people use brooms to brush away dementedly at the ice in front of it. And finally I remembered: ‘curling’, it’s called. And, no, please don’t anyone write in telling me how much fun it is to do or watch, thanks all the same.

https://i0.wp.com/www.theprovince.com/sports/cms/binary/9508426.jpgNow, the only reason I was thinking of this so-called sport at all is that I was trying to come up with a name or a helpful image to convey what it is that I try to do in postings like this one.

Let me write a few more paragraphs, and see if you can tell what I’m getting at…

swavesey church

Where it all happened…

The other day, a certain pal and work colleague of mine — let’s keep things confidential and call her ‘Stephanie’ (though, in reality, she’s called Sue) — happened to tell me that she’d been to hear a choral concert that was put on as part of a local festival. Rather than it being the kind of mixture of short and pop-oriented pieces that she and her mum were expecting, however, it actually turned out to be two fairly big and serious choral works, end to end. Reading between the lines, I had the impression that Sue, I mean Stephanie, found it all a little bit remote and alien — which isn’t all that surprising, since she’s not really a ‘classical’ buff and doesn’t go to a lot of choral concerts.

At which point you can see why I was thinking about curling — or, to be precise, about the energetic folks with the brushes, since their job, if I’ve understood it correctly (and if I haven’t, please resist the temptation to tell me) is to try and melt and polish the ice so the piece of granite travels a little bit further before various forms of friction and resistance bring it to a halt…

So here is own my little bit of vigorous ice-brushing, in my attempt to get my pal — and every reader who’s in a similar position! — into the sort of state in which at least one of those two choral pieces will ‘go in’ a bit futher, or more easily, or more intensely than it previously did, or otherwise would.

First off, I’m delighted to say that this little project gives me the chance to re-present as my ‘Stage 1’ what is one of my favourite three-way music mixes from ‘Inspector Morse’ (it’s actually the start of the very first episode). While you enjoy it, I’ll keep out of the way — except to say that the reason I’m including it here is that one of the three bits of music used in this terrific piece of musical montage was part of the concert that Stephanie, I mean Sue, I mean Stephanie, heard that evening…

All right, let me move on to ‘Stage 2’. Because it also emerged that, on the night, the choir was accompanied by a single piano with a single pianist, rather than by the bright and sparkling Baroque orchestra that the composer had in mind when he composed the piece. And that is significant from the point of view of my pal’s experience, and probably everyone else’s too: though lots of choral works (and even operas, in some settings) get performed with the orchestral contribution boiled down into whatever will fit a pianist’s two hands, I myself am always painfully aware of the loss of colour and power and clarity.

I’ve managed to find a YouTube clip which will help me put that point across. Unfortunately, the choir in this clip doesn’t sound very confident at all (it’s probably an early rehearsal: I imagine they got better as time went on!) — but you will at least hear the schoolgirl at the piano making a pretty solid job of someone’s published piano arrangement of the orchestral parts… (And, of course, you’ll now be able to tell which of those three ‘Inspector Morse’ pieces it was that my pal heard!)

So, maximum points for the lass at the keyboard; but, with the best will in the world, the loss of the orchestra’s timbral variety and tonal power is, frankly, more than I myself would be able to cope with unless I was in an unusually good mood — or was hearing unusually good singing!

All right, now ‘Stage 3’: the real thing — with just one little interruption before we get there: I need to say, as quickly as possible, that the piece that’s been having its ice brushed for the last several minutes is Antonio Vivaldi’s very popular and much-recorded ‘Gloria’ in D major, catalogued as ‘RV 589′. Vivaldi (who lived from 1678 to 1741) probably wrote it in or around 1715 — which makes it more or less exactly three hundred years old. If you’ve never encountered it before, and your first thought was the same as mine was at a similar stage, long ago — i.e. that it’s a shame we don’t know Gloria’s last name, because Vivaldi obviously liked her very much indeed — then you’ll probably benefit from seeing this translation of the words that are being sung…

gloria textAnd with that out of the way, let’s get it all started…


Well, how did we do — all of us: you the target, me with the brush, Vivaldi the object that has to get to you…? Obviously, I’ll never know … unless you want to post a ‘Comment’ that tells me — and everyone else too…!


And what about Sue? Will she tell us if my bit of vigorous brushing achieved anything in terms of how she now reacts to a piece she didn’t get a lot out of, first time round…?

Will there even be any feedback at all…? We shall see…

Meanwhile, as I often say when there’s curling on a TV somewhere and I can’t escape from it: ‘The weight is unbearable…’.


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2 thoughts on “Just call me ‘Basil’…

  1. One of the first major choral works I ever sang – we’re talking the early 1960s here… It was just becoming seriously popular then.


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