A day in the ear

Was entranced to discover on BBC Radio 3 yesterday morning that there was a unique project taking place - Harkive, an attempt to map out what people are listening to across the world on July 9th 2013.

Although I would also call myself a musician and music teacher my principal job is as a music librarian, so inevitably there are large swathes of the day that are pretty silent - although there are often earworms at work. Yesterday I posted up throughout the day what I had been listening to as a sort of virtual snapshot (or should that be tape recording?).

So to begin. Here comes the embarrassing bit, was woken at 6:35 am by Abba belting out Waterloo as my alarm tone on my phone. Used to have a clever phone in which you could use any recording as an alarm, so could be woken by a bit of Ravel's string quartet, or Bach's double violin concerto (more of that anon), or Eric Clapton doing a storming Layla (the original and best). Now I'm reduced to Abba (although I must admit they're one of my top guilty pleasures). I've had a bit of a soft spot for them ever since hearing my mother and aunt discussing them post their 1974 Eurovision win. Both Mum and Aunty Meg announced authoritively that they would never amount to anything.

After that it was telly on for breakfast news while feeding dogs and self, and then my first proper shot of music driving into work. Radio 3's Breakfast programme on, where I was lucky enough to hear two of my favourite pieces: an aria from Giulio Cesare by Handel, and the first movement of Bach's double violin concerto - a lovely recording on Radio 3, but I've linked here to my personal favourite featuring Oistrakh father and son. Also a spot of George Gershwin on the piano. I love George Gershwin, but feel a bit ambivalent about the plethora of Gershwin standards recently being recorded by classical pianists. They all sound very nice and chocolate-boxy, but some of the majorly lush harmonies - much thicker than the original surely? - can sound overly sentimental. I much prefer the rawer sound of Gershwin as it was recorded and filmed in the 20s and 30s.

On arrival at work there were several hours of silence except for the ear-worm that is Vaughan Williams' Lark ascending (blame it on the beauty of the summer day outside) stuck inside my head.

By mid-afternoon I was cataloguing eighteenth century Italian opera while listening to the recently discovered La musica notturna delle strade di Madrid by Boccherini. Recently discovered by me that is, I've known the piece for years but didn't find out until recently what it was called. Then it was back to another dose of Handel's Giulio Cesare. Brought up on Handel oratorios it's only relatively recently that I've been introduced to the delights of his operas. He's a truly magical composer, one of those musicians who always make me smile. He has a wonderful lightness of spirit that's life enhancing.

End of the day, and it was off to my next job - piano teaching. A quick listen to Radio 3, and a piece by Arvo Part, his Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten. Perhaps I tuned in at the wrong moment, but it didn't grab me - although listening to it again now, I would definitely give it another try. Changed station and listened to the latest gloomy news coming out of Egypt on Radio 4. Then arrived at my destination. Over the next hour I was treated to one half of the piano duet, Gerald Martin's Boogie for two, a cracking performance of Tarrega's Adelita, the first movement of Mozart's C major piano sonata, K. 545, followed by Scott Joplin's classic rag The entertainer. None of the items linked to on YouTube feature either myself or my pupils.

Proper end of the day now so back home playing the Rolling Stones loudly - Street fighting man, Satisfaction, The last time, 19th nervous breakdown, You can't always get what you want, and two of my favourite Stones' tracks Give me shelter and Jumpin' Jack Flash.

Got home to two excited dogs who had been listening to Radio 3, so it was back to classical music again for a quick burst of Liszt's Annees de Pelerinage : Vallee d'Obermann. Dinner on to cook, dogs to play with, then some telly. And so to bed, tucked up with dogs, The Brothers Karamazov (nearly finished!) and an earworm that brought me almost full circle to the start of the day - the aria Va tacito e nascosto from Handel's Giulio Cesare (here sung very beautifully by the counter-tenor Bryan DeSilva) that had been stuck in my head from the moment I first heard it that morning. Another day in the ear of Bookhound....


Clare Wartnaby said…
Loved sharing your day of music, Margaret - and the links have introduced me to lots of new things. The Arvo Part actually made me feel a bit teary, but the Handel was a good antidote!

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