Today is my supermarket shopping day and I aim to get to the supermarket about one minute before it opens. However, it had been raining heavily for most of the night I would guess and the traffic on the roads seemed horrendous this morning, with queues at very single junction and ‘pinch point’ So having got some money out of a nearby ATM, I was quite fortunate to be only one minute late when I got to the supermarket and it seemed to be extremely quiet compared with past weeks. Fortunately, I found practically everything that I wanted but the delay in getting to the supermarket and then back home again meant that I seemed to be running late most of the morning. We were delayed by another event but this was quite a pleasurable one. Knowing that I can generally browse ebay and get a classical CD for only £2 or so, I had decided to get myself a ‘good’ version of Handel’s Messiah. The version that caught my eye, and which I bought, was Georg Solti conducting, with Kiri Te Kanawa as the lead soprano and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. When this arrived a few days ago, I really enjoyed it as the rendition was bright and vivacious (befitting of a baroque piece) and Kiri Te Kanana exhibited her usual brilliance in the recording. Once I had bought this CD which was recorded in the mid-1980’s I noticed that another rendition was available (and even cheaper) and this was the version conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham in 1959. So I did what I have never done before and bought another version of the same piece of music. Beecham had written some of the program notes and he pointed out that the original score of The Messiah has been lost so no one really knows how large the orchestra was likely to be but it is surmised that it would be principally strings with a small woodwind section of oboes and bassoons and even less brass and percussion. So Beecham had used the score adapted by Sir Leon Goossens who is regarded as one of the finest woodwind players (on the oboe) that the country has ever produced. But this version of The Messiah was so different from the later one. For a start, it seemed much richer in texture, played at a slower pace and evoking adjectives in one’s mind such as ‘majestic’. The ‘Alleluja’ chorus in which the brass and timpany are given full rein is a wonder to which to listen. Although the two recordings are both fine but so very different, how does one choose between them? I suspect that I will do on the basis of mood and if I play it around Christmas or on a Good Friday, I will choose the Beecham version but the Solti version if my mood if somewhat lighter.
As it was raining pretty hard throughout the morning, Meg and I decided to eschew any walks in the park and we lunched on a curry kindly provided for us by our domestic help yesterday. After lunch, I decided to give a good trial to the little Bush CD-player which was advertised as ‘jogger proof’ and which I got brand new at a knockdown price from my peregrinations throughout eBay. This took 2 x AA batteries and it performed flawlessly. I had imagined, in my naivety, there would be a couple of plastic tabs built into the unit through which I could thread a tape and hence around my neck for when I walk into town on my own and require some diversion. However, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ so I did a good raid of our bathroom cabinet where I found a stout plastic case with dimensions very conveniently just a centimetre or so wider and longer than the dimensions of the player. This I have threaded onto a belt which I rarely use and it now means that when I undertake a walk on my own down into town, I can have the player performing away effortlessly in the little bag hanging from my waist (and covered by a jumper in any case). I then did some research to see how long the batteries would last and the answer was about six hours which is long enough for every train journey or even flight I am likely to undertake. But details were given of the power supply that should be used and I raided my supply of two Nokia phone chargers, differently rated as it happens, to see which would be safe to use. I did a bit of research on the web to see if I could could a charger of higher or lower amperage and assumed that a smaller amperage would be safer but this is not necessarily so. Apparently devices will only draw as much power as they need but attempting to draw ‘less’ might make the unit overheat which is not a good thing. The idea now is that I can use a DC power supply when I am listening to whatever I want to in bed (and to which I can fall asleep) whilst I will reserve the batteries for my (musical) forays into town.