Listening to an instrumental version of the old carol Hodie Personent on the North Sea Radio Orchestra’s lovely new album Birds, I had a hankering for the words. Which led me to discover that it’s from a 16th century Finnish manuscript, Piae Cantiones. As is Gaudete and Tempus Adest Floridum (better known as the tune to Good King Wenceslas).
I then found an online facsimile of the book, so if you have the hankering and a group of musical friends, you could resurrect some of these lovely old songs yourself – after all, it worked for Steeleye Span. If you can’t read white mensural notation, in which these songs are written, here’s a handy guide.
According to the BBC, Florian has left Kraftwerk!
Apparently Amanda Palmer (of the Dresden Dolls) has given her record label the push – they refused to market her current single and album unless she allowed them to remove shots of her "fat" belly from the video for Leeds United.
From Peppermill Records, and available for free download, the Box. A 3 CD collection of eclectically odd renditions of TV theme tunes, including Bill "Cardiacs" Drake’s delicate reworking of The Dukes of Hazzard, a lovely shivery retelling of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood by X.O.X., and a truly odd Airwolf rendition.
Some of the stuff I don’t recognise – and I’d love a list – but also featuring are Rockford Files, the Sopranos, the Muppet Show, Inspector Gadget, M.A.S.H (done in French as lounge)… and that’s just the first CD.
Apparently, the skull used in the Tennant Hamlet we saw last month was a real one. It belonged to a concert pianist and composer – a chap by the name of Andre Tchaikowsky – who died in 1982 and left his body to science, and his skull "to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in theatrical performance." No actor until Tennant has had the nerve to use it on stage.
"It was sort of a little shock tactic. Though, of course, to some extent that wears off and it’s just Andre, in his box," [Director] Doran told the Daily Telegraph.
Here’s a website about him. No relation to the famous Peter, though – Tchaikowsky was the name on the false papers he was given when he was smuggled out of the ghetto in Warsaw in ’42. There are links to him playing some of his own compositions here. And more on the skull bequest here – apparently the funeral directors initially refused, claiming it was illegal. There was a phone call to the Home Office to sort this out (it is illegal now – Human Tissue Act 2004)
David Tennant says:
‘When I heard he had done this,’ he says, ‘I thought, that’s brilliant, that’s what I’m going to do, but apparently you can’t any more, the law’s been changed.’
And a quote from a friend, Michael Menaugh, showing the sort of mixed feeling that close associates must have with this kind of thing:
"Unfortunately, the fact of the skull will not go away for any of us. It is something that ultimately we have all to come to terms with, to reconcile with the Andre we knew and loved. I don’t think Andre realized the effect such a bequest would have, both on his friends and on his own reputation. Andre didn’t always understand that the world of ideas and the world of real people, real reactions and real events just did not coincide.
He had spoken to me of leaving his skull for the RSC to use in Hamlet back in 1966 when he wrote the music for my Oxford Hamlet. In my undergraduate way, I thought the idea wonderfully entertaining. When a great actor may hold the skull of a real man, a real man who ‘set the table on a roar,’ a wonderful man who had his ‘gibes and gambols and songs,’ when that great actor says, ‘A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy,’ might not that electrifying flash of truth (transmitted by the actor) light up the play? Andre would have liked that idea, I think.
I’m listening to Anton Webern’s orchestration of Bach’s famous Ricercar from his Musical Offering and I can only think, strewth, he must have really hated Bach. Awful. You can hear it on the tail end of this ”Late Junction” iPlayer edition (3 days left from today) starting at 1:47ish. There’s some good stuff in there – a Terry Riley piano piece, some good folk, and dear old Gai Toms.
An article in today’s Graun notes that the ancient Aussie rock bands’ greatest successes coincide with periods of financial turmoil. They suggest this is because people want something nice and simple when life is complicated, but my colleague Harry, who knows about such things, reckons it’s simply because this album is a return to form.