Desert Island Discs: No.6 ‘Magnum Mysterium’

Continuing with my obsession with choral music, though this extraordinary piece of contemplative liturgical music is by a modern composer – Danish-American Morten Lauridsen. It helps that this recording is from Westminster Cathedral and is high quality (for Youtube). One to play with the lights off, and no interruptions.

Desert Island Discs: No.5 ‘Crucifixus’

To celebrate the Pope’s visit to Britain, and to offer some counterbalance to my resolutely anti-Catholic (and sometimes quite offensive) Facebook news-stream, here’s my favourite piece of music of all time: ‘Crucifixus’ by Antonio Lotti (1667-1740). This is a short, seeringly beautiful part of Lotti’s setting of the Catholic Mass. My version of choice is by The Sixteen,Continue reading “Desert Island Discs: No.5 ‘Crucifixus’”

Desert Island Discs: No.3 ‘Empty Glasses’

I first came across ‘Empty Glasses’ by The Amps on the soundtrack to one of the many skateboarding videos I used to watch as a teenager. The Amps were a short-lived American band formed in 1995 by Kim Deal of The Pixes / The Breeders fame. Whilst at first listening this is a fairly unremarkable mid-90s indie-rock number, it’sContinue reading “Desert Island Discs: No.3 ‘Empty Glasses’”

Desert Island Discs: No. 2 ‘Miserere mei deus’

I was first introduced to Gregorio Allegri’s ‘Miserere mei deus’ (the Italian composer’s setting of Psalm 51) by my mother whilst she was on a research sabbatical from teaching at Merton College, Oxford. I guess around 1995. Composed in the 1630s for exclusive use in the Sistine Chapel, it’s an extraordinarily beautiful piece of RenaissanceContinue reading “Desert Island Discs: No. 2 ‘Miserere mei deus’”

Desert Island Discs: No. 1 ‘Blue Flowers’

Welcome to a new sporadic series – my very own Desert Island Discs. Though I’m not limiting myself to eight. And the order is accidental. I’ll post stuff up when I think of it. So, to start. ‘Blue Flowers’ by Dr Octagon The above is actually the Dan the Automator remix, but I like the videoContinue reading “Desert Island Discs: No. 1 ‘Blue Flowers’”

The Crane Wife

You know when you buy a CD, listen to it once and decide it’s not as good as you hoped, so you tuck it away in your collection never to be heard again? Well, I did this with The Decemberists’ first major album Picaresque and now I’ve done it with their second. A proper relisten today, whilst writing reviewsContinue reading “The Crane Wife”

Different Trains

   I’ve owned a CD of Steve Reich’s Different Trains (1988) for just over a year now, and I find it an incredibly moving piece of music – something I return to again and again. Reich’s use of the sampled voice as a musical instrument is – or, then, was – revolutionary – capturing the lilting tones of elderly AmericansContinue reading “Different Trains”

Cultural (mis)adventures

Two recent adventures. Two weekends ago I travelled up to Cambridge for the annual Procession for Advent at King’s College Chapel. This is less famous than the Christmas Eve Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (broadcast annually on BBC Radio since 1928), but no less atmospheric. With its giant nave and astonishing fan vaulting the Chapel is one of theContinue reading “Cultural (mis)adventures”