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Georg Philipp Telemann, Tafelmusik (Musique de Table partagée en Trois Productions), performed by Musica Antiqua Köln under Reinhard Goebel.

Not a bad way to spend a quiet, snowy birthday afternoon, with a nice hot cup of tea and the gels banished to their rooms for a while.

The Mothe and I were talking of classickal musick the other day, as is our wont from time to time, and comparing and contrasting the overall quality of the various periods of its development.   One of the points of interest on which we dwelled was the fact that there seems to be almost no such thing as bad Baroque musick.  Oh, there’s plenty that is mediocre and pedestrian, but very little that can be called truly bad.  Indeed, the only really awful piece of Baroque musick I could recall ever hearing was a concerto written by a Scotsman – which fact should tell you everything you need to know right there. 

We figured this had something to do with the fact that the rules of composition were so strictly set then.  The true geniuses – Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, et al – could transcend those rules, push them and bend them, but without violating them.  On the other hand, lesser talents (and here I am thinking for some reason of Geminiani) were at least kept out of trouble by such rules.

Contrast that with the Romantic period, by which time Western musick had jettisoned a lot of its prior formalism in favor of more emotive influences.  While there are some truly great Romantic works, there’s also an awful lot of rubbish, precisely because of the loss of these restraints.  It is arguable that the overall average quality of the canon of this period is considerably lower than that of the Baroque.  (Well, I think so.) 

I suppose that all of this illustrates one of the primary reasons I am so much of a believer in Rules not just in musick but in any facet of civilization, from art to religion to social intercourse:  Where there are such rules, those with the talent to do so rise to heights of elegance, while those without are at least kept on the straight and narrow.  Take away such rules and introduce a more anything-goes ethos, and the floodgates are opened wide to a wave of truly bad ideas that diminish not just those responsible for  them, but the culchah as a whole.

Yes, I see by the calendar that today is my birthday and that as of about six thirty ack emma, ol’ Robbo turned 46.


The middle gel auditioned this week down to the local community theatre for a part in a production of “Cinderella”. 

Alas, although she came back from auditions quite happy with her performance, she didn’t get a call-back.  (The competition to get cast in these shows is wicked.)

But you know? After crying a little bit about it, she dusted herself off, pulled herself up straight and started talking about Next Time.

That’s my gel…..


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January 2011