Monday, December 24, 2012

Silent Night

Saunders Farm Nativity from Dmitri Kasterine on Vimeo.

Horses and unaccompanied singing are two loves of mine.  I grew up with horses, but as a child I was not as keen as my mother and sister were. It was not until Gay Kindersley put me on one of his steeple chasers (admittedly an retired one) that I began to understand the thrill and intelligence of the beasts, and will now go out of my way to watch or ride a horse.

At school I was head of the choir, therefore I heard a great deal of unaccompanied music. Recently a highlight of my wanderings through YouTube is the discovery of a recording of Schubert's Mass in G Major by the National Chamber Choir of Armenia, an ensemble that no one has probably ever heard of. But listen to them, particularly the Benedictus. This, as musicians will know, is not actually an unaccompanied piece, but so powerful and pure is the soprano's voice, she could well manage without the orchestra. Then, of course, Keith Richards has recently revealed that he was a boy soprano of great accomplishment, singing many times at the Albert Hall, and winning all the important school competitions in the 1950s. Then he had his first set-back in life... his voice broke. I wish I had heard him.

Strolling about Sandy's barn and field last week I saw the young children lost in their love of both activities.

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