Rock musicians moving over to the classical world has something of a mixed history and is nearly always an awkward transition. The Nice’s Five Bridges Suite, Deep Purple’s Concerto for rock group and orchestra, Emerson’s piano concerto and David Bedford’s translations of Mike Oldfield’s early work all spring to mind.
Similarly projects such as Classical Yes, Classical Pink Floyd etc., offer the novelty of hearing your favourite rock tunes jollied up by an orchestra, but most are flawed, lacking the dynamic which rock has and thus nearly always end up stodgy and corpulent.
Given such reservations the prospect of hearing Robert Fripp’s Soundscapes performed by the Metropole Orchestra conducted by Gert Jan Blom was a daunting one. Thankfully the orchestrations by Andrew Keeling evoke the glacial world of Arvo Part or Henryk Gorecki. Midnight Blue sounded as though it was always destined for this kind of performance.
Miserere Me was equally opulent but blessed with an altogether darker edge lifting Fripp’s work light years away from the increasingly bland constellations of ambient music that are increasingly on view. The use of brass and choir was particularly effective and very, very moving. Despite the thin sound quality of the audio streaming, it was obvious that this was a substantial piece of music.
Unlike other classical revamps Soundscapes sound comfortable in their orchestral setting precisely because they were never located in a rock context in the first place. Their transposition to a classical idiom sounded utterly natural and it’s to Keeling’s credit that he did such a thoughtful and empathetic job with the original material.
It’s been a lazy day. I spent part of the morning on the lawn reading one of the Sunday papers to see if there was any more light being shed on the row between the Blair government and the BBC. Not really. Besides, the whole business is part of the smokescreen tactic to divert attention away from the WMD issue. They still seem to be proving rather elusive despite the fact that a single government intelligence source insisted that Saddam was capable of launching an attack in 45 minutes with them.
Today’s elements of the previous night’s gang assembled at Thomas and Leonie’s house just a couple of doors up from us. It was here that I learned that Dave had only gotten to bed at around from the previous evening’s soiree. As we sat in Thomas and Leonie’s house eating, drinking and chatting, I couldn’t help but notice Dave’s face had the appearance of one of those identikit portraits – an approximate version of his normal features.
It turns out that Thomas is also Glenn Gould fanboy and I had great pleasure leafing through a handsome book of pictures of the great man and also a photograph of Gould’s folding piano seat (one he carried round with him throughout his career). Scratched and worn through years of use, it felt like looking at a holy relic.
Our ability to worship the most unlikely of objects knows no bounds, be it the face of Christ manifesting in a chapatee, weeping Madonnas or sticks and bones of dubious provenance or indeed Glenn Gould’s stool. Hang on, that doesn’t sound right.