Kleiber and the PlayStation3

Yes, I reckon that's an unusual combination too. But it hooked you in, right? Or maybe you've been googling something else, and have ended up here by mistake. In which case, welcome - you're amongst friends here. I promise. I won't judge people for their opinions on the great Carlos Kleiber, even if they're wearing Korn t-shirts and sunken eyes (cue further embarrassing stereotypes).

So, I may be a conductor, but that doesn't preclude me from having a PlayStation. In fact I even use it, from time-to-time. Particularly on those rare weekends with NO GIGS, like the one just gone. I hardly ever use it for gaming, mainly for DVDs, and streaming all sorts of nonsense. I realise that's the equivalent of playing only one octave scales on your Strad, or using the microwave solely for heating coffee (guilty), but I don't care.

Yesterday I entered a new kind of PS3 nirvana. Whilst trying to find something mind-numbingly puerile, to pacify the remaining brain-cells, I came upon....

Oh yes.

This may mean nothing to you, but it nearly brought tears to my eyes. For - LO! - I can now watch all that YouTube-y goodness in shiny HD widescreen IMAX whatnot! I can listen to concerts with sound that eclipses the tinny screetching from the computer, a sound that engulfs me in rapture, rumbling from the HiFi instead of the bottom of an iMac.

Good. Now, that's the way to waste an entire Sunday afternoon. Better than Gears of War or GT5. Mainly because the first thing I watched, I mean properly, and couldn't tear myself away from, was that extraordinary film - about an extraordinary bloke called Carlos Kleiber. If you've not seen it, drop EVERYTHING and start now. Even if you have seen it, nothing makes it more impressive than viewing from the sofa (if you're reading in the US, that's "couch") - where, as we know, all the best TV-watching happens, and not when you're at a desk staring at a computer.

(subsequent edit: now, that film has - quite rightly I guess - been eliminated from YouTube. You'll have to go and buy it, like in the old days. I've popped an equally extraordinary snippet of Mozart below instead. It'll look & sound just as good on the PS3, TV or anywhere)

Thanks, PlayStation3, and the YouTube people, for making a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon more sun-filled than you can possibly imagine.

And, thanks Mr Kleiber, too. Again.

Happy watching - even if you're at a desk.

Never thought it'd be Smetana

Maybe I knew I'd start a blog one day. Maybe I imagined it'd be bright and brilliant, full of erudite observations. And followed dutifully, bootifully by hoardes of admirers. Maybe I thought I'd post the odd video of someone conducting something. But, you know, I never ever dreamt that my first video post would be Vltava, from Smetana's Ma Vlast. (It is, by the way, if I get that far - this isn't a red herring).

Maybe it would've been some Mahler, or some Carlos Kleiber, in my imaginary pre-blog blog. Or Tennstedt. Or Jeff Buckley.

Then, for all sorts of reasons, I was reminded today of this incredible musician, this poet with his hands (and, in rehearsal, an alchemist of words and imagery). Straight away, it was obvious what my first video would be - Ferenc Fricsay, one of the most extraordinary conductors. He makes this music sound almost unbearably alive. Achingly full of character, dance, and - excuse the pun - flow. His spirit and energy are still convincing today. Infectious! Even in monoaural monochrome.

Such a tragedy his life was cut short. And that there aren't more conductors around today to take these kind of risks...

Mravinsky, Arthur Bliss & Schmoo

Ok, ok - I promise this is the last test while I set up this blog. And the last cat. Probably. I can never resist a cat on a piano stool, especially with a Colour Symphony score in the background (does anyone know this? I'm considering it for later this year...)