Friday, January 27, 2006

Mozart day

It's the Big Birthday: Mozart is 250 today. Happy birthday, Wolfie.

BBC news is marking the occasion by showing all the kitsch for sale in Salzburg and interviewing Lesley Garrett. Kenneth Branagh is making a film of the Magic Flute with a text by Stephen Fry setting the whole thing around the era of the First World War. Channel 5 is the only terrestrial TV station that's shown anything like a celebratory documentary. Norman Lebrecht is busy slagging WAM off again (it's clear, from what he writes, that he's never heard the Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments) and Ian Bostridge in The Guardian penned something about how Idomeneo contains the only interesting tenor role Mozart ever wrote. David McVicar, who is directing Figaro at Covent Garden, decided, when I interviewed him the other day, to be incredibly outspoken about all of this. All being well, the piece should be appearing next week (fingers crossed). My feature on why this anniversary is not likely to be the greatest thing since sliced bread seems to have missed its sell-by date, gazumped by something in the news section that covered some of the same ground.

While despairing over the state of music and attitudes towards it, I'm simultaneously gob-smacked by the levels of artistry that still exist among today's greatest musicians, and especially by a new DVD that I watched yesterday: Thomas Quasthoff and Daniel Barenboim performing Winterreise from the Philharmonie in Berlin. Words fail in the face of such musicianship, and musicianship doesn't even begin to describe what they do. It's staggering. Try and see it. Yes, we live in an age of appalling Philistinism, but if Quasthoff and Barenboim are in the world, it can't be all bad.

3.40pm UPDATE: Nice to see that Google has joined the celebrations.