Music has charms to sooth a savage breast
The BBC picked a good Prom concert to televise this evening, a welcome break from the interminable Olympics with commentators raving and screaming about Britain’s this and British that. Musical cognoscenti sneer at televising classical music, claiming that the visual images distract attention from the pure musical experience, and it’s true that a young ravishingly pretty dÃ©colletÃ©e cellist in close-up can make the male mind wander a little from the intricacies of a Birtwhistle slow movement. But this evening featured, among other delights, the familiar Bach D minor concerto for two violins (BWV1043) in which the interchanges between the two soloists (or should one say duettists?), Andrew Manze and Rachel Podger, gained enormously from being visible as well as audible, their expressions as they glanced smilingly at each other at the start of each new exchange making an even more striking reality of the delicious dialogue. Both played with huge verve and confidence, even gaiety, obviously untroubled by the technical demands of the music, obviously delighting in it: literally a joy to watch as well as listen to. What gloriously happy music!
As for the distractions of undue pulchritude in the orchestra (the English Concert) and their splendid choir, the undeniable, indeed welcome fact is that women of any age don’t have to be beauties to look wildly attractive when playing or singing their hearts out, eyes sparkling, faces glowing with the delight of the music, every limb and sinew attuned to the production of a glorious sound, whole bodies energised. Even the men look good.
How regretfully, after that, one turned back to the news bulletins with their extensive coverage of Mr Pinsent sobbing tragically as he received his fourth Olympic gold medal! Still, he had earned his emotional moment: what an awesome oarsman of the foursome [etc., etc.]