Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Seduction for the elderly

Some music arrives by the back door.

When I was still in my editorial pomp a Swiss businessman, who had better remain anonymous, spent a good deal of his company cash currying my favour. Got me tickets to Glyndebourne, accompanied me to the Paris Opera for Berg’s Wozzeck, dined me at Le Grand VĂ©four (then a Paris three-star), chatted about his Ferrari and about his vintage violin on which he played Bach. We got on. I sent him LPs by Solomon, piano master of Beethoven’s slow movements, and he urged me to try Notturno by the Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck.

Schoeck who died in 1957 is modern-ish but not oppressively so. Notturno, for string quartet and voice (baritone in my case), incorporates settings of four German poems. I bought the LP, played it once, didn’t take it in, let it languish. A decade later I transferred my LPs to CDs and thereby re-discovered Notturno. Gentle, reflective, predominantly minor-key, it’s a small masterpiece; it’s playing now and the German word traurig (sad) recurs. Perfect music for someone of my age and disposition.

I wrote thanking him for this late-flowering piece and he phoned me back. Meanwhile Notturno shuffles its way into my consciousness. Again, this is not a recommendation: too much would have to come together for that. Just a celebration of how things can happen and hopes of further Notturno moments for all of us.

NOVEL Nineteen out of twenty chapters subjected to first-pass revision: result 6579 words (out of the original 119,154) have bit the dust. I feel cleaner for it.