30 Nov, 2020

DID-5

It’s the fifth and I’m going to cheat a little.

A reminder for those who don’t know Desert Island Discs, the BBC radio programme that started in 1942 since when over 3000 episodes have been aired.  Each week a guest is imagined as a castaway on a desert island, is encouraged to talk about his or her life, and is asked to name eight pieces of music that mean something special to them, and then explain why.  It’s not a test of musical knowledge; the programme is about their lives, and why each of their choices is so important.  For example someone might include a folk song that their mother used to sing.  It’s highly personal.

Well, mine is of an album and, cheating the rules, I’d like to offer two tracks as this one DID-5 choice.

As a young teenager at secondary school I learned to play the treble recorder … somewhat  … wasn’t that interested.  Twenty years later I picked it up again, branching out to alto, tenor and bass recorders.  It was in Saudi Arabia, a country largely dry of western culture where we performed illegal concerts featuring mainly choral and instrumental items but occasionally a recorder quartet, four friends including two from the Netherlands.  Here’s a picture of yours truly in one of the concerts.  We weren’t great quality – slow classical, slow Scott Joplin, and in one performance The Teddy Bears’ Picnic – but it was fun and was unusual and was appreciated.

Years later when I was back in Britain one of the Dutch friends gave me the CD Extra Time by the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet and it has become a favourite since then, reminding me of our attempts – hopelessly amateur compared with the Loeki four – to make quality sounds with those instruments.

To be honest I’m not a great fan of the recorder, but this music means a lot.  We practiced hard, we did our best, we gave pleasure believe it or not, and we enjoyed it.  And the Loeki show me how good it can really be. They also have fun.

Here are two tracks: Brandenburg 3, and The Pink Panther.

 

3 Comments

  1. The wonderful thing about the recorder is that it’s so portable, and you only need three other people to make some very nice music. Also, it’s relatively easy to learn to play well enough to perform in public, though of course much harder to learn to play as well as this fine quartet. Besides the group in Saudi Arabia, I’ve found players in Yemen, Egypt (3 recorders and a cello), Roanoke (Virginia), Nevada [that’s NeVAYda, please] (Missouri), and El Paso (Texas). Unfortunately, most Americans don’t take the recorder seriously; it was always great to find a player from The Netherlands or Germany, where it’s a respected instrument. Thanks for sharing this quartet.

    Reply
  2. Reminds me of when I had to teach recorder classes when I was in Carlisle: the cathedral paid me peanuts to sing or play for evensong every day except Saturday, and 3 services on Sunday, so I taught 2 days at a secondary school across the park from where we lived, a day at the art college, and several half days at primary schools in the less salubrious bits of the city: there my duties involved keeping one lesson ahead of the kids in the recorder book – I’d never held a recorder before. I don’t suppose any of my charges ever played consort music in Saudi Arabia in their maturity! How anyone plays them as well as on your Loeki recording, and as well in tune, I can’t imagine!

    Reply
  3. We must mention your animated recorder performance of Scott Joplin’s Entertainer! In Saudi Arabia. What glorious ragtime!

    Reply

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