Friday, 5 February 2010

In A Silent Way

A bizarre thing happened this week. I was listening to the BBC Radio 3 Breakfast programme on the car radio on the way in to work on Tuesday, when a very nice piece of Baroque music came on, just as I was approaching the campus. I anticipated with pleasure a "car park moment" -- you know, when a piece of music is so good that you stay in the parked car to hear it to the end, and to find out what it was. I keep a little notebook in my coat pocket for just such times. I've had some of my most treasured musical experiences sitting in a car park.

Anyway, the piece finished, and -- instead of Rob Cowan filling me in on the details -- there was an unusually long silence, even for Radio 3, and then a further piece of what sounded like the same composer and performers. Then, when that finished, there was another silence, and then another track of what seemed to be the very same album. Then another. And another.

By this time it occurred to me that maybe good old Rob had died, slumped over the console, and nobody had noticed. But there was nothing I could do for him, and I was late for work, so I got out, and walked to the office, deeply puzzled.

Later on, I looked up the playlist and, sure enough, there were seven tracks of Buxtehude in a row, occupying about 45 minutes of airtime. Extraordinary. I had to go to the "Listen Again" facility, to see whether I could hear Rob Cowan say, "And now for some Buxtehude, which ... arrgh!" It would be like the start of a Dorothy L. Sayers thriller.

But after some scanning backwards and forwards, it emerged -- disappointingly -- that there had merely been a technical fault. No dagger in the back, no poisoned cup of coffee. Ah, well.

Here's another little sequence from this week:

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