Archive for February, 2010

Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by K. T. Tunstall

Posted in Music with tags , , , on February 25, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Hans Zimmer: Classical Composer?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Someone asked me if the soundtrack to the film Gladiator could be regarded as classical music. Seriously. The conversation turned to the similarities between the battle scene and Mars from Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite. But he also asked if the zither/vocals and the charismatic droning of a woman’s voice in the closing titles was also derived from older music.

I have a CD entitled “Music of the Post-Byzantine High Society” by Christodoulos Halaris, and there appear to be some superficial similarities to the two works.

The music for Gladiator also features the extraordinary Jivan Gasparyan who is probably the greatest duduk player in the world, and there is an obvious nod to Armenian music.

To get back to the question: “classical music” is unfortunately a term applied so widely and loosely that it’s impossible to arrive at a consensus. For instance, some people would say it is music written in the idiom that predominated in Europe between about 1750 and 1828 (i.e. from the death of J.S. Bach to the death of Beethoven), while others seem to think that anything played by an orchestra including violins is “classical” , even if it’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. So, subjective taste influences the use of the term.

Music composed to accompany films and TV programmes is often written for orchestras similar to those used in 19th and 20th century symphonies, and the musical idiom used often incorporates features of the “classical” music that might have been used in the period in which the film’s story is set, e.g. the Napoleonic Wars or Edwardian England, such as Patrick Gowers’ music for the Granada TV “Sherlock Holmes” which emulates part of a romantic violin concerto.

But “part of” is an important consideration, I think. Film music rarely needs to be a convincing or extended structure, because it is usually heard for a minute or so and then faded out for dialogue. This, and the fact that it often deliberately imitates the music of a previous century, may explain why many people consider it in a separate category from what they call “classical music”.

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Clams with sherry and garlic

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

You could use most types of clams for this dish – or even mussels, cockles or razor clams.

250-300g clams, cleaned
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
60-70ml dry sherry
1 tbsp chopped parsley
a couple of knobs of butter

Put the clams and garlic in a saucepan with the sherry, season, cover with a lid and cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan every so often until they begin to open.

Add the parsley and butter, replace the lid and cook for another 30 seconds or so until they are all opened. Serve immediately.

Brown Bread: Earl Wild

Posted in Music, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Earl Wild was an extraordinary pianist with that grand, big sound and that broad romantic approach – something rarely heard nowadays. A fine musician who has made my music listening incomparably richer.

A superbly gifted and unique artist, perhaps controversial interpretations at times but what a phenomenal technique. He certainly made Liszt listenable for me.

Wild recorded some odd things. Reynaldo Hahn for example, whose Piano Concerto must be the worst piece ever written, anyway rather more adventurous than his slightly “popular” image might have us believe. I was fortunate enough to have heard him in recital in London some years ago at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The audience was so hushed during his Chopin that at the end of one of the quieter preludes someone murmured “Lovely” and it was almost like an explosion.

It was a long evening, and he ended it with Balakirev’s Islamey. No sleeping through that racket.

R.I.P. Earl Wild 1915-2010

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