Rattling my brain

September 8, 2007

Been a busy old week here bouncing about the country sorting out employment. I’ll be starting work again on the 1st October, though a few other options remain open, so you still have a few more weeks of me typing irrelevant drivel here on a more frequent basis…
The slow posting is partly because I’ve been home I’ve been deeply engrossed in Elizabeth Wilson’s mammoth biography of Shostakovich entitled A Life Remembered, and I’ve been slowly working my way through the pictured box set of DVD documentaries, Leaving Home – Orchestral Music in the 20th Century. written and narrated by Sir Simon Rattle. The films originally appeared on UK TV (I think Channel 4?) a few years back, but not having any interest in that medium I never saw them. I can recommend the set though because although to the already knowledgable it will say nothing new (and I don’t consider myself in that category) it features frequent films of Rattle conducting the many discussed works with the Birmingham Syphony Orchetra. His quiet, articulate yet simple discussions of the music are often illustrated by him at a piano, and this coupled with the full scale orchestral playing makes for a nice way to talk about music like this. Extended excerpts and discussions are held on everyone from Mahler to Takemitsu, via Schoenberg, (often) Shostakovich, (at length) Messiaen, Kurtag, Debussy and everyone in between, not ignoring Ives, Cage and Feldman.

I’m only four sevenths of the way through the set but its been a very useful and interesting experience for me so far that will probably offer something to longterm classical listeners as well. I picked the box up for just under £50 from Amazon UK, not too bad for seven 50 minute discs.

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