Saturday, March 12, 2016


So utterly sick of the hype surrounding the appointment of a new football manager or multi-million pound transfer fee for a player, you begin to wonder what the world would be like were conductors and orchestras to be give the same level of media attention. The passing of Nikolaus Harnoncourt made a ripple or two & that's it. Reading the excerpts from the booklet that accompanies this - presumably - his last recording I'm struck by the wisdom & humility:

"There is no end to it all. You can never say: "Right, now I understand this piece, now I've finally made sense of it." 

(Which, incidentally, reminds me of Peter Gizzi's bewilderment when his students claim to have read a poem & exhausted it.)

I don't know the 4th Symphony very well - one of those you tend to relegate to the second division in comparison with the 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th. How silly. Sitting down just now to listen to the first movement of Harnoncourt's recent version - well, it's a revelation. What an opening! This will keep me going for the weekend.

And by the way ... if you're not familiar with the Andras Schiff Guardian lectures on Beethoven's sonatas, this link is a must:,,1943867,00.html

It's wonderful to hear such a calm & clear analysis of these pieces by another great musician whose very depth of knowledge has only served to make them even more astonished at the profundity of the compositions. 

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