Saturday 30 March 2013

Period Instruments and One Liners

Agrivap is a National park in the Auvergne - central France - which I mentioned last week in this blog. Within the park is 85km of rail track on which various preserved locomotives and railcars run.

I'm not sure I approve of the fact that the trains have been re-painted in a new livery ie the livery of the National Park. Makes it seem more Disney than authentic.

A railcar

Sous Marin or CC65000

A railcar

A railcar

Currently listening to:

Saturday morning CD Review on Radio 3:

An interesting discussion this morning with 3 conductors who have championed the use of period instruments when performing music from the 17th to 19th Centuries.

Views are pretty polarised on this subject. But listening to the discussion I was reminded of the double-edged sword which is the "pithy remark" or the "one liner".

For example, one well known musician who was totally against the use of period instruments when excellent modern designs were available, said this:

"Why advocate period instruments? That's like advocating period dentistry."

That's a brilliant way of portraying the issue: but it doesn't close down the argument.

The counter argument is this:

The justification for using period instruments to play, say, Mozart is not that it is historically more accurate (although, presumably, it is) but that it sounds better.

Interestingly, the discussants all made the point that when period instruments began to be widely used in the late 20th Century, the people who suffered were contemporary composers. Contemporary composers obviously thought that they were producing a new sound landscape, but they were usurped by the orchestras playing traditional repertoire with period instruments; that repertoire came over as completely different and fresh; it was that use of period instruments that was the real 'shock of the new'.

Not sure I agree with that analysis.

The phrase 'shock of the new' reminded me of that brilliant book by Robert Hughes. It became a successful TV series in the 80s.

Last night's dinner:

Chicken curry at the Shenaz restaurant, Glasgow.

Approx cost per head: £15

It's difficult to get chicken curry on the bone ie chicken breast is the most common ingredient. But here is a very appetising picture from the web of fowl on the bone , albeit, it's quail!

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