15 Mar


The London Philharmonic came to Eastbourne today to play a Rossini overture, Beethoven’s first symphony, a Haydn piano concerto from about 1780 and Mozart’s last symphony, the Jupiter  in C-major K551. The Rossini was fun as always – all those perpetually, postponed climaxes. The piano concerto was very dainty, but hardly the best work from a man of forty-eight who had had the opportunity to hear such as Mozart’s astonishingly original E-flat piano concerto K271. But the Jupiter – that was in a different category entirely.

It is one of three symphonies by Mozart composed in the summer of 1788 – the other two being the E-flat K543 and the G-minor K550 – and he died without hearing any of them performed. So the Jupiter was composed twelve years before Beethoven’s first. It is hardly imaginable: the Mozart is so far advanced of the Beethoven. I cannot believe he managed to stuff so much music into so little space. The constant invention of melodies is miraculous and the whole work keeps slipping from ternary form into fugue and back again, until the entire wonder of it constantly falls over itself, scrambling towards ever greater excitement and vivacity unto the consummation.

It is in C-major and there are military echoes of Non piu andrai – Mozart’s own favourite tune – from Figaro. But also some interludes which presage the Requiem. I find this symphony quite beyond all comprehension. It is gloriously tuneful and transcendentally inventive throughout. But the last movement is scarcely believable: a sonata movement which turns into a five part fugue – to which Mozart then adds a coda. The harmonies – firmly diatonic but then also daringly chromatic – are so complicated that it is as if the score were being read and played right way up and upside down at the same time. Yet it doesn’t sound confused. Quite the opposite. It contrives at once to be both intricate and straightforward, immediate, effervescent, affectionate, tender and mystical.

Above all, perhaps, it sounds so modern, as if it had been composed yesterday. What did Tom Eliot say? “All great artists are contemporaries.”

15 Mar

An every day story of psychopaths

The newspapers and TV continue their obsession with the three “vulnerable,” “straight A” Muslim girls who, on the proceeds of jewellery they stole from their parents, went off to Syria to join the enthusiastic representatives of the religion of peace and love. I hope this media obsession continues: we could have a new alternative soap opera on our hands here, even more exciting than The Archers whose writers and producers – though they are pretty good at producing lurid plot lines – have not yet got around to burning the village church in Ambridge or beheading the Rural Dean of Borchester.

The three “vulnerable” young ladies are now well set up in Raqqa where they live in houses confiscated from members of the local population. Here they await the arrival of their husbands-to-be, blood-soaked psychopaths of Islamic State. I do hope that, courtesy of continued co-operation between the IS website and the British Press, we get to see the arrival of these handsome young men and that there will be video footage of the weddings: the jihadi grooms in their fetching black masks and their brides smiling effulgently  – we imagine  – under their Halloween costumes.

It won’t be long before the children come along. In the nature of the case, we shall not of course see videos of their Christenings or Bar Mitzvas, but it is to be hoped that we might be let in to the boy children’s instruction in general misogyny and wholesale iconoclasm; and even that we might receive first-hand reports of the girl children’s genital mutilation.

Then at last will come the great day when the whole family goes out on a picnic during which the excited kids get to watch their very first beheading. The older children might even be allowed to participate.

This brilliant new soap opera will require a signature tune, of course: Dum dee dum dee dum dee dum; Dum dee dum dee da da: Smite the kuffars dum dee dum; Allahu dum dee Akbar