L’Arpeggiata played instruments like the psalterion, theorbo and cornetto--hence they appeared as part of the Early Music series--but the music they made would have fit in Disney’s pop program just as well.
I can imagine their founder Christina Pluhar saying,
“We play 17th century European music, but not church music, or music from courts or theaters. We’re playing popular music. And since it’s pop music, we’re going to play it like pop music. We’re not going to stand around with long faces like classical music goops, but play like a rock band.”
Naturally, their pop sensibility had a European tint, but nevertheless they rocked. Their vocalist Lucilla Galeazzi belted out of her numbers with intense drama. Doron Sherwin managed to make the cornetto—which looks like a length of garden hose—sound like a trumpet.
Just to mix things up they also played some 20st century Italian pop songs.This was the most transgressive Early Music concert I have ever experienced. They were defending a thesis and having a ball: it was a trip.
“Mr. Paolmar’s spirit vacillates between contrasting urges: the one that aims at complete, exhaustive knowledge and could be satisfied only by tasting all the varieties; and the one that tends toward an absolute choice, the identification of the cheese that is his alone, a cheese that certainly exists even if he cannot recognize it (cannot recognize it in himself). …
… he would be content to establish the simplicity of a direct physical relationship between man and cheese. But since in place of the cheeses he sees names of cheeses, concepts of cheeses, meanings of cheeses, histories of cheeses, contexts of cheeses, psychologies of cheeses, when he does not so much know as sense that behind each of these cheeses there is all that, then his relationship becomes very complicated.”
“Great is Bankruptcy: the great bottomless gulf into which all Falsehoods, public and private, do sink, disappearing; whither, from the first origin of them, they were all doomed. For Nature is true and not a lie. No lie you can speak or act but it will come, after longer or shorter circulation, like a Bill drawn on Nature’s Reality, and be presented there for payment,—with the answer, No effects. Pity only that it often had so long a circulation: that the original forger were so seldom he who bore the final smart of it! Lies, and the burden of evil they bring, are passed on; shifted from back to back, and from rank to rank, and so land ultimately on the dumb lowest rank, who with spade and mattock, with sore heart and empty wallet, daily come in contact with reality, and can pass the cheat no further.”
“Anna Vassilyevna liked to stay in her own house, as the reader is already aware; but occasionally, quite unexpectedly, she was filled with an irresistible longing for something unusual, for some really striking partie de plaisir; and the greater the difficulties associated with this outing, and the greater the amount of preparation and organization it called for, and the greater the degree to which Anna Vassilyevna was herself agitated by it—so much the more agreeable she found it.”
More entertaining than the first volume—more celebrity gossip and funny anecdotes—but it’s far from cozy. Isherwood is always unquiet.
It is a sign of his candor that he never makes any of it even faintly glamorous. Unlike for example the Robert Craft memoirs of Stravinsky, which cover many of the same drunken dinners.
What’s terrifying about Isherwood is the absoluteness of his rejection of England, Europe, reputation, seriousness, …. He’s singlemindedly focused on writing, rather than being a writer.
My favorite bits are both about funerals:
Dec. 20, 1962. After Charles Laughton's very public funeral, his widow Elsa Lanchester commented “I wish it had been a grey day, it softens the face in the newsreel shots.”
Feb. 7, 1965. “While I was in New York, Lincoln [Kirstein] went over to London to see Churchill’s funeral. He found that most of the people he met didn’t want to watch it, even. But Lincoln got drunk and wandered around with a bottle of bourbon, weeping. He was one of the few who stood on the pier when the coffin was carried on to the launch on the river. I told him I have composed a last sentence for a Churchill biography: ‘The great ceremony was over at last, the huge crowds were left behind, and the coffin was carried on to the launch in the presence of one single weeping drunk American millionaire.’”