Saturday, 3 March 2012

Classical Music - The Good , The Bad and The Ugly


From an early age I learned to hate classical music. Music lessons at school consisted of a teacher putting on an album , flipping half way through , then nipping out for a fag leaving us to suffer the noise that we didnt want to listen to . But classical music was and still is deemed to be respectable , while everything else is for the uneducated proles.

Then there were great plays like Abigail's party in which Mantovani was presented as the height of sohistication , and the truly attrocious "Classic Rock" series , attempting to make rock respectable by having the melodies played by an orchestra , finally resulting in the even more attrocious "Hooked On Classics" series ,  classical music , with a disco beat "Stars On 45" style.

My reintroduction to classical music came through Alan Freeman playing "Mars" from Gustav Holst's Planets Suite on his Saturday Rock Show. Mars with its threatening martial rhythm is a superb piece , and prompted me to buy the album. A couple of listens and "Jupiter" is still my favourite instrumental piece from any genre.

Around this time John Peel started playing music by the Portsmouth Sinfonia and energetic Orchestra who basically couldnt play their instruments but tried , a bit. They backed Brian Eno on "Put A Straw Under Baby" from "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy" and are rumoured to be making a comeback. They had at least one album and a single "Classical Muddly" . Whatever "Hooked on Classics" could do , the Portsmouth Sinfonia could realy screw up and manage to entertain in the process.

Now we have stuff like Classic FM which just presents classical music as stuff to fall asleep to . This si not so , you have Stravinsky , Wagner and lost of challenging stuff , for fun the light opera of Gilbert & Sullivan . If you were to tell me that Beethoven's 9th or something by Mozart was the greatest piece of music ever written , I wouldnt argue. My own personal favourite complete suite is Carl Orff's Carmina Burana . In "O Fortuna" it displays on of the main problems with classical music , going from quiet below human hearing level to earsplitting crescendo in a minute or so. Sound systems cant really cope. Anyway below should be a playlist of the album for you to listen to. Just because a lot of it is bland , boring , long , in a foreign language , doesnt mean it isnt worth the effort. It is , but you do have to be selective!!

Carmina Burana - Carl Orff by Mike Singleton on Grooveshark

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