29 August 2010

Rattling good tunes?

I've just been having another look at the video posted a few weeks ago of Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. It reminded me of just how surprised I was when I heard his rather conservative choice of 8 records as his Desert Island Discs back in 2008.

After all, here's a conductor who, before migrating to Berlin, had made his name with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra by enticing the culture vultures of the West Midlands to listen to the tuneless and discordant noises cooked up by modern classical composers.

Which of their delights, I wondered, would he want to take with him to find solace on his desert island?

Answer: none of them!

Apart from a Joni Mitchell song, the most modern specimens he could manage - Janacek (1854-1927) and Mahler (1860-1911) - weren't very modern at all.

If his chosen pieces are the only ones he enjoys well enough to take with him to the desert island, it does make you wonder why he's devoted so much of his career to imposing programmes of modern classical music on his audiences - when he himself would apparently much rather be listening to more traditional and accessible fare.

Rattle's 8 Desert Island Discs:
1. Mahler: Andante, 9th Symphony
2. Sometimes I’m Happy, Performer Joni Mitchell
3. J.S. Bach: The beginning of Brandenburg Concerto No 1
4. Janacek: The end of The Cunning Little Vixen
5. Mozart: Adagio for Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments
6. Haydn's Creation: The Great Work is Completed
7. Sleep on and Rest in Dreams from Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri
8. Handel: Scherza Infida from Handel’s Ariodante

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