Monday, May 21, 2018

Royal Wedding edition

Phew I'm a bit hot today.
Saturday I spent time going out for a walk before it became too warm, talking with people along the way as people were getting things done for around midday as indeed I was with an item to be posted.
It wasn't just any old day though even if any old sunny day as going around the built up parts of this area that thankfully escaped being completely built over like much of the wider North Staffordshire conurbation, there was much bunting and flags out.
The reason was Saturday was the day of the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle which was taking place at the private chapel of Windsor Castle, just a short distance from London.
I spent the morning watching it as the guests started to arrive right through to the arrival of the Prince, his bride and naturally Her Majesty and Prince Philip before the service started.
And what a service it was with blend of the traditional and modern seamlessly interwoven, with classical music being played and an arrangement for gospel choir of Stand By Me, the vows traditional but without 'obey' and the symbolism of the exchange  and blessing of the rings and the hymns, which were part of my upbringing as we sang them at school with vigor I might add.
 I really enjoyed as  a classical music fan 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason's contributions.

 Picture credits: Time Magazine
The couple looked most at ease with themselves and the very many (estimated 125,000 standing watching in Windsor) in attendance as they came out and went on a horse driven carriage which was very romantic around the castle into the High Street and back again for the reception.
I'm sure we all wish them well in married life and will remember this magical day.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Just resting

This last week has been a bit different with not being here for a few days so in a  way it feels rather like I'm playing catch up right now like with dealing with unopened mail and the like apart from getting the washing done.
One great thing about where I live is even in more built up centre there are undeveloped patches of land that are a haven for wildlife which may be things like birds and small mammals but as here actually you can get to see horses grazing  where the fields are let to individuals although this very field was the one in 2005 where one horse decided to steal my camera bag using his teeth that had my then Minolta camera with lenses and run off with them.
I had to get the owner to go in there and retrieve it all covered in horse spit and clean it!
I have  been walking both when I was away and also here where it's gotten a bit cooler from the start of last week but I think we'll be back to t shirts and thin skirts or shorts with fairly soon as while very hot weather isn't my thing, being able to drop off the layers and taking in some sun as well as fresh air is something I do really like.
The cherry blossoms and blue bells are still out here.



Monday, May 7, 2018

Classical sacd round up part eight - Vivaldi

It took a while for me to move away from the giants of Romantic era composers to Baroque and that whole area is one where the battle in performance techniques between modern instruments and conventions  from the Victorian period clash with the so-called Historically Informed  Performance techniques in vogue for the last 35 odd years is at its fiercest.
One name associated with it in Great Britain is Brecon Baroque, a ten piece ensemble of musicians who are lead  by the multi-award winning violinist Rachel Podger who specializes in baroque works.

One of the first works in this genre I encountered was Vivaldi's Four Seasons, a sequence of Opus 8 pieces three per suite connected at one point to reading of sonnets around the Four Seasons buying at the time Perlman's recording with the Israeli Symphony Orchestra on tape and eventually on cd Anne-Sophie Mutters recording with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by the late Herbert von Karajan for EMI Angel.
Both of those were performed very much 'Modern' and in April this year this recording done in a period style with moderate tempo's (the tendency to play faster in H.I.P performances is a personal irritant) was released recorded in London's St Jude's church.
To me this recording does achieve something worthwhile, the stripping away of layers of cloying strings through the use of a smaller assemble  allowing the freshness of the composition to come through and is played well.
As well it has Il Grosso Mogul, Il Riposo and L'amorso added which adds value to this new recording where my 1984 cd has no extra material at all!

The english language title is The Trail of Inventiveness and Harmony which as you'd expect wasn't one Vivaldi himself give to this series of Opus 3 concertos but a catch all marketing thing  where Vivaldi really pushes the boundaries of what musicians can play through musical invention. There have been a few recordings  before but this is new to me and certain adds to ones appreciation of the 'red priests' contribution to classical music.
 This is another set of concertos he wrote, the Opus 4 that predate the famous Four Seasons and have been mainly ignored until recently that Rachel and the Brecon Baroque recorded in 2003. This was issued on regular cd and sacd, mine is the latter.

I love the flute having been bought up with schoolfriends who played woodwind and I did have I Musici's recordings from the late 1960's for Philips on cd being brought with them on tape but that was subject to some questionable sonic manipulation I found hard to listen to so I bought this 2011 release on Accent which is at least as good as playing and technically superior.
While I have a couple of other regular cd's of Vivaldi's music not least that Anne-Sophie Mutter recording of Four Seasons that I enjoy hugely, this set of four Super Audio cds have added to my appreciation of Vivaldi's achievements.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Bestuff - early social media

Thanks for everyone who read and enjoyed last weeks outdoor edition of the blog not least the pictures.
This week I'm going back a bit in time to around ten years ago before some of you were online even and looking at one site I loved in the before Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr were the social media of choice.
The main reason you join any kind of social media is to form connections with others,  in other words it's the cyber equivalent of face to face networking so you need to find thinks that link you to who share things in common.
The mainly British social media of choice in the 2000's was Friends Reunited that worked though connecting you to schools, colleges, university and workplaces to others who had connections to them.
Bestuff was an international site that did things in way that soon become more the norm.

Rather than looking at where you've been, it looked at what you liked such as favourite films, foods, pets, hobbies, dating likes and so on in groups created by users which you'd mark up as likes that added into a mosaic collection of your "Bestuff".
 New Stuff, new categories were listed you you could keep up and by going through categories you could find your "Bestuff" and share it.
It was a bit like a game where you'd go around looking for and creating things you'd share.
It's a bit like Tumblr where you look for thing you like, reblog and follow each other except it was a bit less high tech and didn't have the messaging sophistication.
There was a Friends section you could add those you shared the most stuff with and a messaging board and my best buddy on there is in that screenshot, Tribble, to whom we had keenly felt relationship between us.
It closed down after a period of graveyard languishing a few years back but part of my past includes this early social media so when I think  back to things when this blog was in its infancy, I do think of those days by the "Big Computer" on sites like that before joining Google Plus and Tumblr.
Of the two I'd say Tumblr is the busier by far and Google Plus is one of those things I file under was encouraged by a group of friends who seemed to want to leave Facebook but then decided freebees were worth more to them than better privacy and control of who you posted too and promptly left me on there as I refuse to do facebook. Actually I have two accounts but do wonder from time to time about scrapping one completely since I seldom use the other.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spring is in the air

After last week's much read and discussed at certain places post  if you're in Great Britain you'd of realized we recently had a warm sunny spell that if like me you live in a more rural area meant the farmers moved from trying to keep everything warm from last months snow to the exact opposite!
 These creatures have been keeping my company  on the smallholdings I pass while out walking, trying to keep myself fit as the go "Baa" making me feel my stomach and leaving me feeling hungry
 The leaves are beginning to grow where in the same location during the Winter I showed you all the area all covered with snow and if you look carefully there are Dandelions growing by the base of the tree trunk.
The signs are for the Farmers Market and Unprocessed milk you can buy from the farmers gate as some people prefer it to treated milk. Personally I prefer sterilized!!!

A group of Dandelions  near our wood stuck between housing developments and one of the most important 'A' Roads in the North-west Midlands. One just hopes it isn't built over.
On our village green of sorts, their are wild flowers between the trees and alongside the hedgerow presently there is a continuous line of dandelions rather like you would expect to see more of in country lane than the village centre  where also you hear the birds calling across the green dissected by the main estate road.
I haven't know too many village centres were between the shops, you can see and hear that much wildlife which makes even a trip to get a bottle of milk and Allied Bakeries finest can be most pleasant.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Staying warm - the only agenda that matters

One area when I tend to disagree with traditionalists is over the idea girls or any other female clothing needs to be all thin and feature either a skirt or a dress not least because I grew up in cold environment where it wasn't unusually for winters to be very white.

What it means is what heat our bodies give out isn't being trapped by materials that would help keep us warm leading to a situation where girls may feel get cold quicker just because of gender norms in fashion.
 In areas like mine, because of the cold, often girls did wear warmer clothing even if over a school dress to stay warm and they did include pants or even snow pants with super warm layers which were more suited for winter play.
You often had a thick padded coat with a hood on too keeping you warm.
Staying warm and looking after yourself should never be limited by ones gender because it is a basic human need for all of us.
 In some school areas Uniform policies are being adjusted to allow full gender expression and options for all such as Western Australia that decided last September to allow pants or shorts to be worn by girls and in some UK schools boys to wear skirts if they wish.
To me this is about time because uniform is about setting standards so kids look smart at school and avoiding competition in dress and not about being an instrument of gender stereotyping or oppression.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Classical sacd round up part seven - Mozart

Mozart on cd for me started in 1991 with the DG Mozart Masterpieces  25 cd set that I bought an awful lot of during that era.
Those discs were mainly drawn for performances in the 1960's and 70's usually from mid 1980's cd transfers from analogue tape rather than the late 1990's and onwards remasters for "The Originals" or "Collectors Edition" box sets so I felt it was time to look at newer performances that would sound better in super audio cd to go alongside them.
 This does actual breach that rule being a 1972 recording  but it was exceptionally well recorded in quadrophonic sound being one of the finest ever performances with Alan Civil's horn playing standing out.

This was part of a series of recordings made by Linn Records, part of the Scottish Hifi manufacturer that use modern instruments but with a smaller scale orchestra than has been the case in the past to great effect, letting more light and shade in. 
Technically these best my mid 1970's accounts on DG.
This is a set of performances by the label BIS performed under Historically Informed  Performance criteria, which is HIP in some classical circles even if some traditionalists like me feel it's flawed as a concept. This account using an early 19th century piano while being a bit faster than I'm used to, do work quite well bring Concerto 27 that can sound plodding to light.

I bought this on recommendation in September as it has all of Mozart's violin concertos plus a few other works performed by that modern day gem of a violinist, Julia Fisher. 
Mozart's flute concertos always interested me as our Head Girl was a Flautist so one often heard them but the recordings I had didn't breathe as much as the best modern ones which was why I tracked down this 2005 release complete with catalogue as these are the finest available to date.

I have two groups of recordings of the main Symphonies, one set conducted by Karl Bohm  mainly in the 1960's and a mainly 1970's box set by Herbert von Karajan both of which were featured in the Mozart Masterpieces series.
These two double sacd sets while using modern instruments do use a smaller scale and some elements drawn from in vogue period performances and were very highly regarded upon issue in 2008 and 10 with the very finest of sound by Linn Records.