Wheels of Cheese #51 – The Philharmonia plays Holst: The Planets (cond Esa-Pekka Salonen)



It gives you some idea how long I’ve been writing Wheels of Cheese (I’m now on page 11 of 130) to note that this age is an advertisement for an exhibition at the London Science Museum from May 23 to July 8, 2012, that I actually attended the day I started the project. The exhibition was a sound and video installation that allowed you to wander from room to room, moving through the various parts of the orchestra as they belted out Holst’s cosmogonical naming of the parts. It was like being part of the orchestra! If the players were about nine feet tall! And shot from 37 angles!

It was pretty good – it made you think things like, gosh, the orchestra is a many- and multi -facted entity, wherein the individual, chaotic, substrata of unitary voices come together under the hand of an unseen maker are interweaved, interleaved, further individuated then fused in unique patterns of symbiosis, to produce an order, a harmony if you will, both  stunning in its conception and overwhelming in its majesty. Much like the universe itself!

At least that’s what I was thinking but my daughters wanted to get downstairs to the water play area, so off we trotted.

Wheels of Cheese #50: Albumblatt by Brahms

Check your own guest book in case there's one of these in there

Check your own guest book in case there’s one of these in there

Well, this was something of a relief – I thought my next listening project was The Ring Cycle by a bloke called Richard Wagner, but it turns out I’d missed a page or two of the magazine, and rather than a 15 hour long slog through the wilds of Dickie W’s gargantuan paean to pretty much everything, I was, in fact, to listen to a small, newly discovered piano piece by Brahms, which clocks in at about 2’24. Thus freeing up 14 hours and 57 minutes of my time.

I have spoken before of my love for Brahms, and his piano pieces I find especially beautiful. This is a mini waltz in A Minor, and I recall reading a biography of Johnny B which argued that he saw the 3/4 time as an expression of The Good, to which music strives, albeit with tumultuous disruptions. In this piece the disruptions are small but vital – the waltz wishes to play itself out , but a number of percussive discords briefly interrupt the flow, making its later continuation seem gently miraculous.

The piece was discovered in a guest book, and the main theme was later – 12 years later – used by Brahms in his horn trio. Whether he kept his notes with him, or whether the theme stuck with him is a glorious mystery to contemplate. I like to think of him waking to the tune in his head, and thinking, where have I heard that before… Next, the Planets. And then, Dear God, to The Ring.

Albumblatt on youtube


Orlando Furioso by Vivaldi (DVD)

The Vivmeister

The Vivmeister

Look, I don’t know about you, but sitting down to watch three hour Vivaldi operas is not something I do very often. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like Vivaldi – he’s reasonably bracing on a Sunday morning, when you’ve woken up with a hangover, you have to work in two hours at some shit job for £6 an hour, and your girlfriend has copped off with some dude who’s, like, into Bon Iver and that’s how they got talking, yes, look, in that case, give me Vivaldi singing from the rooftops about the glory of Being, sure. Takes the mind off it, it does.

But after you finish work, and, like, the supervisor guy, Derek, who looks a bit like the guy who copped off with your woman, except twenty years older, because he is twenty years older, and man, he’s giving you grief, with the this and the that, and you just wanna say, dude, I mean, dude, but then you get home and you’re just fucking knackered, well, you just don’t wanna do that Vivaldi trip, you know, it’s like, step off, Antonio.

So I didn’t watch this. I’m sure it’s good. Why Orlando is Furious I guess I’ll never know. But I bet he had to deal with the odd Derek in his time, thus fury.

I will win though. Oh, yes, I will win.