Archive for Sir Colin Davis

R.I.P. Sir Colin Davis

Posted in Music with tags , , , on April 15, 2013 by telescoper

Yesterday (Sunday 14th April), the conductor Sir Colin Davis died at the age of 85. This is very sad news indeed. I won’t event attempt to write a comprehensive obituary piece here. Many others have already done this much more knowledgeably than I could ever do. You can also get an idea of the affection in which he was held by looking at the condolence page at the website of the London Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra with which he was associated for over fifty years.

What I will do is pay a small tribute in my own way by posting this sprightly and engaging version of For unto us a child is born from Handel’s Messiah which shows him in action, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra (at the Barbican in London) with a very characteristic combination of authority and obvious enjoyment.

Farewell, Sir Colin Davis. You will be greatly missed.

For unto us a child is born

Posted in Music with tags , , , on December 21, 2009 by telescoper

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past year you will now that 2009 is the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric Handel, the great composer who was born in what is now Germany but who moved to London in 1712 and became an adopted Englishman, taking up Britisch citizenship in 1727. BBC Radio 3 has been celebrating all year, and I’ve heard lots of Handel’s prolific output for the first time thanks to them. I am a bit ashamed that I have put any Handel on here so far. I certainly don’t mean to imply that I don’t like his music – far from it, in fact – he’s so good that I can even put up with the harpsichords. Sometimes. I guess it’s just that I never got around to it and wasn’t sure what to pick.

Anyway, it’s time to correct this error of omission. This is an appropriate time of year, in fact. Like many brought up in England (or Wales), one of the essential rituals of Christmas time is listening to Messiah. This is a little strange because it was originally intended to be performed at Easter. Another strange tradition is that everyone (orchestra, choir and audience) stands during the famous Hallelujah Chorus. Legend has it that this is because King George II stood when he heard it and, following Royal protocol, everyone else had to stand too. For some reason, over two hundred years later it still happens. It’s just one of those things that stuck.

However, after much thought, I decided not to use the Hallelujah Chorus here, but not because I don’t like it. It’s a thrilling piece and full of nostalgia for me too. The reason is that for many people it’s all they ever hear, and there’s a lot more to Messiah than that. So I’ve gone for another piece, which suits the season especially well and also exemplifies Handel’s gift for vocal and orchestral writing. This sprightly and engaging version was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis.

My compliments of the season!