Sunday, 13 January 2013

Forgive them, Father, for they have not a clue…

Front room, M8   Hexanon 50mm 1.2, 17-Aug-12 [largest]

A corner of the Cave
(snapped by Grumpy, with his lovely new lens…)

William Byrd
Music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book
Fritz Neumeyer (harpsichord)
Archiv 13 026 AP (rec. 24 & 25 May 1954)

Once again, many apologies for my long silence. I’ve been finishing a certain pressing task – which, I’m glad to say, is finally done: last week, I sent off my thesis to be printed and bound, for submission to the examiners. They now have 8 weeks, poor chaps, to read all >ahem!< 86,184 words (not including footnotes or appendices)…

While I was desperately trying to focus my thoughts, I found myself craving mostly modern music: Birtwistle, Berio, Boulez, Dufourt, Grisey, Haas, Ligeti, Stockhausen, and I forget who else… plus a lot of Stravinsky, as ever: I finally learned to love his Concertino, for instance, thanks to a cracking DG disc of his shorter pieces, superbly performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

We also spent two weeks in New York, where we witnessed Hurricane Sandy, and I was lucky enough to meet fellow-blogger Squirrel. He and his marvellous mate received me most hospitably, plying me with tea and delicious home-baked cookies. Their Nest is in a fascinating neighbourhood, which Squirrel guided me round most informatively. Then we went to a concert of Scottish and English viol music and songs, ravishingly performed by New York-based viol consort Parthenia, with the counter-tenor Ryland Angel. I see they’re repeating it this coming Tuesday (14 January) in Greenwich Village, at St. Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street – do go if you can!

So, no time for LP transfers (though I’ve been buying 78s aplenty). Also, my ‘main’ PC suddenly died, disrupting my audio workflow; and my new hobby (photography – bad, for a spendthrift like me) demands that I invest in some new hardware, for digital image-processing. So I’ve  got to do some techy research before I take the plunge. One thing I can tell you right now, though, and for free: I’m not touching Windows 8.

Still, I have some transfers on the stocks, so, in homage to Squirrel and Parthenia, here’s one to tide us over until I get back into those grooves. (Also, we’re away in New Zealand until early February.) Not the greatest harpsichord playing, but it is one of the earliest LPs devoted entirely to Byrd’s keyboard music I know of. The best performance here, for me, is of The Bells.

1 Praeludium to the Fancie [BK12]; Fantasia [BK13]
2 Fortune My Foe, Farewell Delight [BK6]
3 The Bells [BK38]
4 The Third Pavian [BK14]
5 Galliard in D 'Sol Re' [BK53]
6 An Almane [BK89]
7 La Volta [BK91]

The 7 mono, fully tagged FLAC files are in a .rar archive, here.

So what’s with the the title of this post? Well, a kind visitor to the Cave just alerted me to the fact that another harpsichord LP, of the same vintage (Jean-Claude Chiasson playing Couperin on Lyrichord), has become the first of Grumpy’s droppings to fall foul of the censors: it is now marked ‘©  This file is copyrighted and cannot be shared’. They’re wrong, actually, but never mind.

The large record companies have lost the plot so completely, that I’m almost past caring. Though it made me very cross when I saw an upload by Discobole, of orchestral music by Chabrier conducted by Jean Fournet – in 1952, for goodness’ sake –, blocked with the message,
‘Permission Denied. Not provided by submitter by Not provided by submitter can be downloaded from one of these fine retailers.’
I can’t work out if the lack of a modern commercially available alternative was down to the ignorance of the sad snitch who grassed Discobole up, or of the company which supposedly ‘owns’ Fournet’s recording (it doesn’t: the LP entered the public domain about ten years ago, which is why Naxos has been able to reissue it).

Something similar happened to an upload by Damian, of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and Serenade conducted by Franz André, but that time the message was along the lines of, ‘Buy this from Orinoco, played by the False Claims Orchestra on the Lobbyist label’. I have absolutely no time for piracy but this is not it. The sheer bad faith and idiocy of this procedure are breath-taking. Grumpy is getting grumpier by the hour.