Tuesday, 16 February 2016

EVENSONG. Isobel Baillie and the Halle Orchestra, from Handel's Messiah, I know that my Redeemer liveth, 1941

Sunday night, and the abominable  David Mellor barged into my life a few minutes ago. Classic FM was playing it's Top Forty or Twenty, whatever it is, a show I never hear as  a rule but it was alright, I was doing something else and it was just on, quietly, in the background. And actually it's not too bad in the later evening, Classic FM, longer pieces played without those jaunty adverts for shit you never heard of and never want to again, although that's fair enough, it's a commercial station.

Anyway, that show finished and a few minutes later I realised I was listening to his fucking lordship, ToesMan, it was toes, wasn't it, his thing with Antonia de Sanchez, the actress, whatever she was called, I never had much sympathy for her, she wasn't Monica Lewinsky and Mellor wasn't an abusive PROTUS, although, remembering about if, he did treat his then wife and family like mere appendages to his career, swinging them all on a gate, all happy families. Toes and football strips, that was the Mellor scandal, although he denies it, most of it, and he is a right honourable, after all. 
 He was talking about I Know That My Redeemer Liveth, as though he was up there with Handel, himself, in musicality,  the repulsive shit, and then he said he had discovered a differing version of I Know That My Redeemer Liveth, one dating from 1941, which eschewed the embellishments, the grace notes, with which we are now so familiar. What followed made my hair stand on end, as not only the soprano, Isobel Baillie, but also the band, the Halle Orchestra, stark and solemnly dramatic,  delivered the goods spiritual, rather than the goods showbusiness.


It used to be played and sung throughout the working land, the Messiah, colliers and shipwrights, fitters and turners, I sang it myself, in an NHS nurses' choir at the Royal Albert Hall.  I don't know how popular it still is, now that this arse has made hip-hop choral, 
 his branch of Cruelty TeeVee, gobby judges regretfully rejecting  tearful choirs as all involved work towards Living the Dream. 

What I do know is that even though Handel and his ponce patrons were German, the Messiah, more than  any other works of sacred music unites musicians and audience like nothing else. Brenda and her clan can fend for themselves but in the defence  and preservation of Handel's Messiah  I would take a sharpened stick to the Kent coast. 

It was kind of comforting to learn, later, that Mellor's comments about this  extraordinary performance were lifted wholesale, without accreditation, from comments on youtube, years before his broadcast.


I was at an Easter Mass in Brittany, years ago, and hearing a handful of ageing, determined village sopranos was the only other time I heard anything like Isobel Baillie, it was the faith, made it magical, and something like faith informs this wartime reading, it is  as though Baillie were Job, in his desolation.
This is the shit Handel was talking about.


16 comments:

SG said...

That is good shit Mr I, very good shit... Civilisation, that's what he (Handel) was talking about, I think. For some reason or other I felt the need for consolation this evening (I was gonna say 'too' but that would be presumption heaped upon presumption). However, I only went back to 1972, strange form of consolation maybe - but it does me... seemed to be some kind of bouyancy aid... must have been that Deutsche madchen wot introduced it...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Tit5gHtVEls

call me ishmael said...

I met him, once, Beefheart, some years after that, offered him a toke, in the gents at Warwick University and he said, Thank you very much, that's very kind,but all these people outside have come a long way to see us it and wouldn't be fair to them if we got stoned. The show was almost indescribable, although I must try, one day. One of God's blessed disorderlies. Electricity was one of the early Evensongs, here, before before.

Dunno, these days, there is just so much stuff to listen to, but that old church voodoo seldom disappoints. Kyrie eleison, mr sg, kyrie eleison, gloria, agnus dei, confutatis maledictus, proper blues, that stuff.

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Bungalow Bill said...

Very moving.

Dick the Prick said...

I think what your meeting with Cap'n Beefheart would these days be described as 'a dude alert' where you meet a semi-hero and, without wanting to cause any offence yet not be sychophantic, simply express the word 'dude' and nod your head - it's an Americanism, to be sure, but it's what dem kids be doing.

I work with a chap who's well into his Americana - especially politics for some reason, knows more about theirs than he does about ours which is kinda weird - anywho - we were stuck, standing room only (natch), in 1st class on a Trans-Pennine train with David Milliband about 3 years back and I was genuinely unsure what to do - 8.30 in the morning - bit ropey calling someone A GENUINE TOTAL CUNT! at that hour so I just left it. As we were wandering off though, the lad leaned over and said, sotto voce, "you suck". Ah, for some reason it totally tickled me - still does. It appeared to me to be the perfectly judged, restrained and yet offensive insult.

call me ishmael said...

I was dudeing people twenty years ago, dude, people who had a real or perceived status, the more inflated the self-perception the more the irritation at the term, the nicer the person the greater their sense of compliment. It was a term, in the popular mythology of the Wild West, for a city slicker, come out west, overdressed and pomaded, to cardsharp, landgrab, claimjump or otherwise defraud decent, simple cowpunchers and revived popularly in our times, I believe, by the Undead One, himself, the Lord Ziggy, in his monogram, All the Young Dudes, created for one Mr Mott, the Hoople.

Your friend sounds like a gentleman of great finesse. and style, but I am concerned that President Trouserses young flunkey permitted his conveyance on a public train and not, as befits the head of International Rescue, a gold-plated helicopter.

But the Handel, mr dick, what did you make of the Handel, Ms Baillie's eery power, isn't that just the pure funk?

call me ishmael said...

Thank you, mr herbz, that's very grean of you.

SG said...

International Rescue? Ha! Ha! Ha! Who the fuck do they rescue? Yes folks, just £2 a week can help provide this unwanted, unloved (hated) ex-politician with an international living wage of 425,000 of your English Pounds... International fucking rescue my arse! With apologies for such intemperate language this early in the evening. I shall look foward to your description of Mr Van Vleit's indescribable performance Mr I though I can appreciate the formidable challenge of attempting to write it - I shall quite understand if you prefer to keep it in the 'too hard' file for now!

call me ishmael said...

It is one of those unnoticed outrages committed by NewLabour, BananaMan's attempt to coerce the British courts into colluding in Uncle Sam's global TortureCorp and his subsequent rewarding with this post when his brother thwarted his party leadership ambitions. Hillary'n'SpunkyBill will find a role for him if they win, some weird, reverse faghaggery going on between them.

The Eagle Sisters, the Alexander Siblings, the Brothers Milband, the Family Balls - were there any other Snotty family appointments, arrived at by consulting his Great Moral Compass? Crazy fucking bastard.

Woman on a Raft said...

Thank you for this.

Recently I've been retreating more in to books. There just seems to be such a high general insanity factor that it is paralysing to think about. And yet, if we don't think about it, then it grows worse. But I do understand the overwhelming urge to keep the head down and pretend it is not happening. On the plus side, I've got a tidy sock draw because at least that was something I could control.

I have mostly concentrated on saying nothing because Brexit is crucial. I do not want to have any argument on any other base; they are all secondary.

call me ishmael said...

Much of it, mrs woar, I hope and am fairly confident, is as I said to mr vincent, seasonal: if God hadna known how winter would depress the arse off us He wouldn't have made Spring, would He? There, my Palinism of the Day.

Storage solutions, though, that's the thing. The sign of a man at the top of his thing, game, is it? A man who's always good to go, but good to have stay, a man who makes every second count, his work-life balance calculated to the Zen microgramme, his work as rewarding as his leisure; a man equally at home in Strasbourg or Sydney, as fluent in Mandarin as in Norse; brain like a laser, cock like a horse's, a man who knows where his socks are.

Discarding, that's my thing, these days, Oh, the thrill, the effrontery of it. Up until recently I had about a hundred pairs of cheap socks, bought on the run, travelling, in supermarkets all over the land, all black but all subtly different in colour, length and plasti-weave, virtually impossible to match, yet all neatly stored in drawers compartmentalised by IKEA dividing systems, Swedish origami, purchased as a flat strip but expandable enough, when opened, to fill the universe; a drawer on each floor of the house, neatly filled with mismatched socks, all made by furious Chinks, from by-products of the petro-chemical industry, or recycled plastic lemonade bottles, all lying, obscenely tidy, in nineteenth century, ash-lined, mahogany drawers, like shit on a tablecloth. There's proper mental illness for you. If God had wanted us to hoard shit, plastic socks He would've planted polystyrene trees and not wooden ones.

Now, I just have four or five pairs of locally hand-knitted socks, dirt-cheap at about fifteen pounds; shaped, comfy and durable, in fancy yarns, bought on the craft trail. Now people accost me in delighted, curious envy, every time I cross my legs in airport or restaurant, My, they exclaim, where DID you get those socks? If you were troubled enough to wanna make new friends everywhere you went, like your life was a travelling Facebook, them handmade socks is the way to go. And you can use the freed-up drawers to put books in.

Good to see you, mrs woman on a raft.


Dick the Prick said...

Dear Mr Smith

You're my favourite writer.

Ta

DtP

call me ishmael said...

You got no work to do, mr dick, no NHS gas ovens to build, for the useless sick, the demanding elderly?

Doug Shoulders said...

I only fulfil the last criteria of your 2nd paragraph above.
The things one learns reading your stuff. Thanks....
Socks is it?
I do believe my feet have been maltreated over the years by wearing those darned polynylonetester stuff they’re made of. Poundland socks…no more though.
I’ll put my hand in my pocket for anything that’s quality and made locally. I’ll not online shop for every bloody thing I need.
Anyway..enough about me.
Hope you’re well up there in the outer wotsits.

call me ishmael said...

Fine, thank you, mr doug, a bit better, in fact.

mrs narcolept said...

As beautiful now as it was seventy-five years ago, and I had never heard it before.