strange_complex: (Sleeping Hermaphrodite)
Or, Why I Cannot Stop Listening To This CD.

For one thing, I have waited a long time to hear the voice I am listening to now1. Without even knowing I was waiting, for much of that time.

My long journey to the Vatican )

Moreschi - a critical appreciation )

A scraggy brown tail-feather, in which Penny demonstrates her remarkable aptitude for excessive over-romanticisation - with pictures! )

Well, if you’ve read all of the above, you deserve a medal. I don’t mind if you didn’t. I wrote it for me, primarily, because I wanted a reason to think closely about this music and why I like it, and I want to remember my reasons and initial reactions in years to come. But the least I can do either way is to let you judge Moreschi for yourself by leaving you with the link for an mp3 I found while Googling for pictures of him and details about his life. It only takes about 20 seconds to download over broadband, which, for a three-minute track, tells you volumes about the quality of the original recording before you even listen to it. And I must say that then going on to listen to it over tiny, tinny computer speakers doesn’t do Moreschi any favours. Still, for whatever you may make of it, I give you Gounod’s Ave Maria, after a theme by Bach, performed by Alessandro Moreschi.

(And an alternative source if that one isn't working – just click on 'escuchar').

Goodnight.

-----------
1. As its length makes obvious, this entry ended up being written in several sections over a series of evenings. I did listen to Moreschi's CD for most of the time I was writing. But any use of words such as 'now' should be taken as applicable to the specific sentence concerned, not necessarily the whole piece.
strange_complex: (Handel)
My journey home should take about an hour and a half. That's rather longer than anyone would wish to spend travelling of a cold and frosty night anyway. And when Virgin cancel one train and delay the next, leaving you waiting for an hour in the dark and the fog, you tend to get a little annoyed. Especially given that I do not think I have ever experienced an on-schedule train on that journey, ever. And delays of an hour happen at least once a fortnight. Leamington Spa station has become like my own personal hell. And as winter draws in, it's getting worse.

Still, there are points on the plus account. For one thing, I got to use the word 'fuck' perfectly legitimately today in a lecture. Twice. The lecture was on literacy, and this came up in the context of graffiti around a brothel in Pompeii. The kids loved it, as I'm sure you can imagine.

I also inherited a discarded copy of the Guardian on the train, which had a Sudoku puzzle in it. I think I am just going to have to buy a book of those, as I'm frittering away quite a lot of money these days on newspapers which I buy primarily for the sake of their Sudoku.

But, most importantly, when I finally fell into the house at 9pm exactly, I found waiting for me the Alessandro Moreschi CD which I'd bought in a fit of excitement after hearing extracts from it at a pre-concert talk in Birmingham two weeks ago. So I'm listening right now to a voice recorded more than a century ago (some tracks 1902, some 1904) - a voice which had already been artificially shaped and preserved through castration by 1870.

Between the gulf of time made palpable by the crackly recordings, and the almost alien quality of the voice - not just in its pitch and range, but in the very different singing conventions of turn-of-the-century Italy, and the obviously Papal context of the music - it's arresting and astonishing. When I first put it on, I actually found myself sitting curled over into a protective, foetal position on the sofa, gaping in astonishment and slight uneasiness at the un-human (not inhuman) sound I was hearing.

I'm used enough to it to sit here and type now, but it hasn't lost its impact. To think I'd thought for years that barely 3 minutes of this existed, and now I have 52 minutes of it, here in my very house! I'm always going to prefer Robin Blaze and his ilk. But this has, yes, a very special beauty all of its own.

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