Magazine article Gramophone

Gramophone Reviewers

Magazine article Gramophone

Gramophone Reviewers

Article excerpt

It all started with a rainy family holiday in Devon and a battered old cassette of (among other things) Pachelbel's Canon. My obsession with all things ground-bass traces back to those wet afternoons spent cross-legged, obsessively rewinding and replaying, trying to sustain that continuous, ever-expanding loop of music.

At school an inspired piano teacher realised that, although I was no pianist, he might yet make a musician of me. So scales were out and, instead, scores and CDs appeared--Peter Grimes, Winter Words, Bax's Tintagel, Rawsthome's Cello Concerto. He co-opted me for his local choral society, introducing an ear accustomed only to an all-girls' choir to the revelatory heft of full SATB. Vaughan Williams's astonishing Dona nobis pacem, Purcell's Hail! Bright Cecilia and Bach's B minor Mass were all experienced first here, through doing rather than just listening. And what an addictive experience it was.

University brought polyphony into my life in a big way. Those years were all soundtracked to the music of Byrd and Tallis, Palestrina and Lassus. Opera also arrived and David McVicar's irreverent Alcina for ENO and Negrin's Orlando at Covent Garden got me hooked on a hobby so expensive that I ended up becoming a music critic simply to keep me in opera-going I couldn't otherwise afford. …

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