Thursday, September 14, 2006

15.03.06 Sunday Times Just Listen For Two Ticks - Neil Pendock The most interesting idea raised by Carl Honore in his ponderous paean to all things slow, In Praise of Slow (Orion, 2004) is the notion that classical music is played twice as fast as it should be. This implausible idea was advanced by the Dutch musicologist WR Talsma who contends that since metronome markings used to be denoted on musical scores by tow ticks per note, whereas today they get a single tick, classics from Bach to Vivaldi are played at double speed. Which is perhaps just as well, as surviving Wagner's Ring strectched out to twice its current length is a physical impossibility. One question Honore ducks is just when this speed-up took place. Surely audiences noticed that concerts were getting shorter and shorter, or perhaps it happened on one fateful day when conductors decided to halve the duration of performances. Be that as it may, not all musicians are in a rush. One modern SA composer in no hurry is Jerome Arthur. With home a small cottage in Franschhoek (self-proclaimed food and wine capital of SA) Arthur takes his inspiration from his environment, which explains why his tow latest releases are called Confessions in White and Confessions in Red. The titles of his instrumental melodies confirm a vinous connection: Vineyard Waltz, A Quiet Day At The Estate, Sundowners in Cape Town, Vin Blanc. The sound is distinctly New York-chill, (remember the haunting theme to the TV sitcom Taxi?) with some etnic (French, Xhosa) spoken interventions. Music and wine are two cultural solutions to the problems of stress and Arthur's music is perfect for "a long night of good food, good wine and good company." © Neil Pendock, The Sunday Times (SA)


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