TV I don't much like Messian then. Huh. Last night's Prom 5 brought his L'Ascension and Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum (which sounds like the spell Harry Potter uses to summon Voldemort). We've spoken before about how my tin ears can't work their drums around atonality, and here again though I could intellectually understand what the composer was attempting and I especially liked the specification that there had to be two minutes between movements allowing plenty of time for people to clear their throats, it was mostly a trial. Saint-Saens Symphony No 3 was predictably my musical highlight for the evening, with the organ and pianos dueling like the two banjos in the film Deliverance.
The camera work was pretty impressive during the BBC Four broadcast of L'Ascension, which has to be the longest live continual broadcast of an organ solo outside of Christmas. It began with a long, slow zoom in from the outer edge of the hall to the organist's box which actually must be the longest shot that has appeared on television in quite some time. A man sitting at an organ is it seems even less televisual than a piano solo, but this still managed to be a visual feast due to the director's willingness to show off the architecture of the pipes, organist Olivier Latry's fingering and the acoustic adjusters in the ceiling.
Back on the balcony (the studio's only to be utilised on BBC Two, thank goodness) Charles Hazlewood was refereeing a passive aggressive battle to be heard between his experts, composer Stevie Wishart and Gillian Moore (from the South Bank Art Centre). The routine would go something like this: Hazlewood asked Moore a question about Messian or whoever, which Moore answered in detail and at great depth, then Hazlewood turned to Wishart who attempted to offer more background but somewhere in the middle of sentence would be interrupted by Moore who then talked in some more in detail and at great depth. Wishart would be suitably perturbed and take to looking into the auditorium, at the sky, everywhere in fact but Hazlewood or Moore. This happened a few times, and throughout I was willing Wishart to interrupt back but to no avail. And the one moment when Wishart was allowed to get into a flow -- on Saint-Saens, Moore continued by repeating almost everything she'd already said. They did seem to be getting on by the climax though.
During the interval: Zeb Soames completed the introduction to an interview with conductor Myung-Whun Chung and Latry only to turn and discover them in heated conversation in French. Just at it seemed that Soames had attracted their attention, Chung began to sing. Soames allowed this to carry on for what seemed like an eternity (but was in truth probably only seconds) before stepping forward and interrupting. Chung and Latry looked at him in much the same way as two businessman striking a deal at a lunch meeting in a restaurant might after a waiter's approached them mid flow to ask them if they'd like to order desert. Soames well redeemed himself later though by offering a useful potted history of the Royal Albert's organ and working in a Tron reference -- the instrument appears on the cult film's soundtrack.