Lab Cat

7 Feb 2006

Desert Island Discs

Filed under: Music — Cat @ 11:03 am

I was going to write about science really I was. But then the new CD from the Mammals arrived and I saw this meme at FOMA. I should stop checking his blog, as he has great ideas of what to write about.

I decided, however, rather than follow the meme he suggested, I would list my Desert Island Discs, which for anyone not British is basically the eight albums you would need to survive on a desert island. It was a BBC Radio show when I grew up. Actually I just checked the BBC website and DID is still going on. It is interesting seeing the current guest’s album choices. I can remember the huge fuss when the first guest asked for a rock/pop album. Up until then it had all been classical music so there was snooty disapproval coming from Radio 4 for at least a week before the show. Imagine, just what was the world coming to? I think whoever the guest was wanted a Queen number, presumably Bohemian Rhapsody, but I’m probably remembering it wrong. Queen over something by the Beetles seems unlikely. Mind you, I would chose Queen over the Beetles but, as you can see below, I don’t chose either.

I grew up listening to classical music as that was my parents’ music of choice. We listened toBBC’s Radio 3 or 4. “The Third? was for music, while “Four? was for news, talk shows and Listen with Mother. I did listen a little to Radio One and occasionally watched Top of the Pops, but when I started secondary school, I was considered very eccentric as I didn’t really know any of the popular bands. The summer between my first and second year, I listened to Radio one constantly and when term started surprised everyone, especially my best friend, by knowing more than every one else. Nothing like being good at lessons. My brother was more into the Sex Pistols and modern rock music. He listened to John Peel, which I hate to confess, I never really got, the music was too new. Mum disliked my brother’s music so much that he had to wear headphones, so it never reached me. Unsurprisingly, my Desert Island Disc’s are heavily classical:

Gorecki1) Gorecki’s Sorrowful Songs with Dawn Upshaw (soprano). I just love this piece, I love the way the orchestra builds and then the soprano comes in and builds and then she fades away followed by the orchestra. I didn’t hear the concert, but the fact that it is also has a connection to the Berlin Wall coming down probably adds to its attraction. My next choice also has connections to that moment in history:

Beethoven Symphonies2) Beethoven’s Ninth – John Elliot Gardiner’s Version. Actually I could be cheating as that is a set of all the Beethoven Symphonies, but you can only get this version in the set.

3) The first LP I was given by my Dad, I seem to remember, was Toscanini conducting Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, together with Rossini’s Barber of Seville and William Tell Overtures amongst others. But it doesn’t seem to exist on CD. Perhaps it wasn’t Toscanini but I thought it was. I may be getting two recordings confused. Hopefully Dad still has my vinyl version, so I can take it to the island with me. We saw the CBSO perform Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture and bits of the Town Hall ceiling came down when they fired (with blanks) the cannons. That was before Sir Simon Rattle took over the CBSO and so before the new Symphony Hall was a twinkle in anyone’s eye. I was very surprised when I first came to America and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture was played on July 4. After all he was Russian and I thought American’s hated Russians. I was even more amazed by the American friend who told me it was about the 1812 was between the Americans and the British. The last war fought in America etc. I had never heard to the 1812 American – British War before, probably because we, the Brits, lost. I was too stunned to even explain to her about Napoleon and Russia.

4) J.S. Bach – Organ Favorites played by Carlo Curly. This has several memories for me. I visited Leipzig a couple of years before the wall fell and we visited Bach’s Kirk and heard, oddly enough, Handel’s Messiah. I also heard Carlo Curly play the organ in a church in Bradford (UK). My then boyfriend was enthusiastic about organ music. Leeds Town Hall had free lunch time organ concerts every Tuesday and I heard Thomas Trotter play there. But we had to pay to hear Carlo. By having this piece of music I get both Bach and Organ Music in one.

Mozart5) Mozart – Alicia de Larrocha playing Piano concertos 20 & 25. I started learning the piano when I was about six. About the same time I learnt to read, but I wasn’t a child prodigy at either. Alicia de Larrocha was the first musician I can remember hearing and demanding to know who was playing. When I was living in St Paul, I went to hear her play in concert with the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra. That was a very special moment. I don’t remember what she played though!

Supertramp6) Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America? ‘cos Mum and I played this game years ago and this is the only music I can remember wanting to take with me then. I had just been given the LP as a birthday present from my brother She was very skeptical of me still wanting to take with me when I was older. So there Ma (blows a raspberry) I still want to take it.

Mammals departure Mammals Rock that Babe7) Something by the Mammals. Departure is too new for me decide whether I could live without it or not. Also not having Tao Rodriguez-Seeger singing Chan Chan on my desert island might make life unbearable. So I would take Rock that Babe and I would take:

Davy Spillane8) Davy Spillane Pipedreams for more foot stomping dances. I saw Davy Spillane play live in Leeds. I was sitting cross legged on the dance floor waiting to start dancing and no one was getting up. So in the end, I couldn’t stand it any longer and jumped up and was the first to dance. Davy gave me a thumbs up. Then everyone joined in and the dance floor got too crowded.

You were also allowed a luxury as long as it wouldn’t help you escape your desert island, so no boats or helicopters, etc. I had difficulty choosing between a keyboard with a piano stool full of music for me to play and sing, a chemistry lab, binoculars for nature watching, or a free supply of yarn and knitting needles. Which is a good summary of the different directions I am being pulled by my interests at the moment. A pity I can’t combine some.

In the end, I decided the latter could be created on my island from grasses and I could make knitting needles from sticks; Two Sticks and some String. I could probably also manage to make some equipment for a lab. After all I am really interested in how colors change and I can see that so I don’t need fancy equipment. As I am worried that binoculars may count as a rescue aid, as they may help me see ships and planes to signal too, and I really want to sing. So the piano stool full of music scores it is.

You were given the Bible [still? Even in today’s multicultural world? Perhaps I could ask for the Bodhisattva] and the complete works of Shakespeare and allowed to choose one more book. I would take How to Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee because I read it this summer for the first time and it is brilliant.

One last comment on the music. Eight was very hard choice to make. Some bubbling under were Sharon Shannon her self-named CD; Les Miserables; Handel Messiah or Water Music (with Ton Koopman) or Organ Music (Ton Koopman on organ); Buena Vista Social Club or one of their solo CDs; Ensemble Organum or Anonymous 4 for polyphonic Mediaeval music; Genesis Selling England by the Pound or A Lamb Lies Down on Broadway; Peter Gabriel Secret World Live. Also other choral music including my own choir’s CD Make We Joy but ‘tis Christmas music, which can’t be listened to all year round or Rossini Stabat Mater..

Science next time, I promise. For those desperate for something scientific can read about memes. Later on, I’ll review the Mammal’s new CD but I need to listen to it at least another 100 times before then. So you should get hold of your copy while waiting for me to catch up.

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3 Comments »

  1. That is way too classical heavy for tone-deaf me. I like Beethoven, particularly the piano soantas, but my formal music education was severly limited because my 70s era music teachers leaned to Kumbaya and folk songs. Here is a stab at desert island discs subject to change and embellishment when I resteal this meme.

    The Clash – London Calling
    The Beatles – White Album
    Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

    Eagles – The Long Run would have to stay home because it might cause depression and make me commit sudicide.

    The rest requires more thought.

    Comment by yellojkt — 7 Feb 2006 @ 11:17 am

  2. I like the Clash, my brother must have introduced me to them. The Beetles were too everywhere and middle of the road in England when I grew.

    All I knew was classical until that summer I wrote about. Also, singing in a choir means that I get exposed to even more. There isn’t much music for sopranos in the folk world.

    Comment by Cathy Davies — 7 Feb 2006 @ 11:22 am

  3. This is very nice and informative post. I have bookmarked your site in order to find out your post in the future.

    Comment by My Kids Day — 16 Aug 2007 @ 4:37 pm


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