Sunday, January 16, 2005

Return of the native...

Tom is just back from a tour to Athens with the band & Kurt Masur, playing all the Beethoven symphonies in four concerts in four days. Knackering - not least because they had to get up at 5.45am today to catch the plane home, after an extremely late night post-No.9. But it was also more rewarding than he had expected. In over 20 years of orchestral slog, he says, he's never done the complete Beethoven symphonies in a few days before; having got through it successfully, he wouldn't mind doing it all over again.

It's an intriguing thought. Given that many critics here have given Masur's Beethoven RFH cycle short shrift (they think: it doesn't say enough/has all been done before/predictable programming), here's a London orchestra stalwart who's never done it before and absolutely loves it. I know that my hubby is perhaps unusual in being one of very few orchestral musicians who still get a tremendous kick out of the job and come home from rehearsals whistling the tunes. But maybe it's the critics who are the truly jaded, not the orchestras. Maybe all those accusations are merely projection!

In Tom's absence, Tippett has been taking pride of place. I've learned a lot by writing about him - not least that I don't always love music for its own sake. I'm actually not that crazy about Tippett's music and I don't go out of my way to hear him (although 'A Child of Our Time' does make me cry, and I'm one of few people who thoroughly enjoyed 'New Year'!). What I love is what he stands for. I love the fact that here is a maverick composer who always had enough conviction to do his own thing. Someone who isn't afraid to splurge in the face of a critical establishment that thinks splurging is naive and therefore Bad. Someone who sticks up for what he believes in, even if it ends him in Wormwood Scrubs. I don't actually like the fact that he was a conscientious objector, because I don't see how anybody on earth could conscientiously object to fighting the Nazis - but that's not the point. While Britten, the beloved of the British Establishment, slunk off to the States for the same reason, Tippett stood his ground and did time for it and I admire him for that in a weird kind of way. I like his humanity and the generosity of spirit that he puts across; it's very rare.

Funnily enough, Korngold had a similar generosity, naivety and overambition; and Korngold is often criticised in a remarkably similar way. There, though, I think that comparison ends!