WW's desert island discs #5

Here is a bit more about what I was listening to between Cliff Richard and Jethro Tull. Classical Music. My mother was a fan, though not a particularly informed one. She had romantic notions about it and so a lot of the early classical music I heard was stuff like"The Sleeping Beauty" or "Carmen" or "Peer Gynt" and they always had quaint pictures of snow scenes on them or woodland and were invariably conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargeant. What we might call very Classic FM these days. I tried to amuse my mother by, either conducting to them, or dancing to them. School kids had a BBC radio programme called Music and Movement, that I used to enjoy - probably more than was good for a young boy. My mother appeared to have crushes on conductors. Years later I recall that she was keen on Vladimir Ashkenazy and I went to a lot of trouble to get a signed copy of his biography for a birthday present. I learned that she took it to a local branch of Smiths and convinced them to give her a refund. I am not sure if she even read it.

Memory does not permit me to recall which Classical piece was my first. I was given a few, mostly by my uncle, who was a Bassoon player in the Band of the Royal Marines. He encouraged me to take an interest.
The first Composer who got under my skin was Sibelius. I first bought a cheap compilation of short pieces conducted by Von Karajan, and then the Symphony Number Two, which is remains a favourite, both in the days when full-price albums were 32/6d and people with 2/6 pocket money, or later 10/- could not even think about paying that kind of money. There is something very reassuring about starkness, about a landscape that is stripped to the bare essentials. If you know Lincolnshire at all, you will perhaps understand that. Sibelius captures this in a soundscape and creates crystal clarity and depth; sometimes unashamedly romantic but at other times dark and uncompromising.
The piece I have chosen is the second movement, the Ballade, from the Karelia Suite. This version is played by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Neem Jarvi. I believe the Karelia Suite has the dubious distinction of having two movements, the Intermezzo and the Alla Marcia, used for not one but two Television programme themes. This is the movement that was not.


Jim Baxter said...

While there's still time to bet on the last two, I'll have a fiver each way on the Hot Club of France.
Steph at the Usherr Hall I'm not goign to forget. As for DR, a man who could do with two fingers what certain bands couldn't do with 12 between them.


Wrinkled Weasel said...

Jim, I wondered how many you are supposed to have.

Two left eh? I did have a Django record at some point. In fact it was one of the first few. Nearest I got to them was spotting Stephan Grapelli in the Regent Palace Hotel lobby.

Jim Baxter said...

Good news. It's eight. My mistake,