Music: Who Wants To Live Without It?
Music has always played a major part of my life, as from the earliest age I can remember classical music constantly playing in our home. Dad had a lot of 78s and an electric player which required frequent needle changes. In fact I used to watch him change them religiously every eight plays – not something he would let anyone else do!! As children, we used to give singing recitals - especially at Christmas times!! I am grateful for the exposure our parents gave us to music – even if dad was a bit single minded when, in the late 50’s my brother Kenneth, bought home a recording of a new rock-n-roll singer called Buddy Holly I think dad thought it was not proper music and that the record couldn’t possibly be up to the same standard as his Beethoven or Mozart recordings!! He used to have constant discussions with Kenneth about playing them on his’ radiogram. And as for the Beatles and Rolling Stones records I wanted to play a few years later – no comment!! Both my two brothers were taught to play classical music on the piano by our Aunty Win. For myself; it was 1962 and I was far too interested in my Uncle Frank’s brand new MGB roadster to concentrate – try as my mum did to encourage me!! My eldest brother, Robert, turned out to be a highly accomplished musician – playing the French horn professionally for many years. Kenneth, my other brother, in later years, would get all his beer bought for him in the NAFFI bar, bashing out songs when we had a session - even if it meant he had a bad head on parade the next day! After I left home and joined the British Armed Forces, I have to say my mates were not too happy about Grieg being played in the barrack room.
Same problem as my dad had – different music. So I had to use earphones to listen to him. But when 'The Who' came on – now, that was a different story - then we used to get into trouble with the Duty Sergeant for playing the music too loud!! Anyway, over the years, I have developed a passion for all types of music and my collection of vinyl records has now grown to include Amadeus Mozart through to Led Zeppelin. But, I guess if I had to pick just one piece of music to take to that desert island it would have to be: Mozart’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No1 in F Minor, Op 73. My favourite recording of this outstanding piece: (only one of several!) Deutshe Grammophon 136550 SLPEM (stereo - 1968) Karl Leister, Clarinet, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Rafael Kubelik.
I bought this recording whilst stationed in Germany in 1970 – since then I have obtained other fine recordings of the Concerto, but I find Karl Leister’s interpretation of the Adagio(in particular) perfectly captures Mozart’s objective of writing the most profoundly expressive movement for a solo instrument. I never fail to be moved by it.