The proof-reader’s playlist

It is very cheering how many generous, eagle-eyed, and logically clued-up people there are out there, who have volunteered to help out with the proof reading of parts of Gödel Mark II, with only the smallest of bribes as an incentive. Maybe it isn’t quite so cheering to note how few come from the UK. And it is even less cheering to have one’s bad mistakes pointed out. Typos I can live with: but thinkos where a proof gets fouled up, for example, aren’t so great to find. Still, it is a considerable relief to have such glitches caught at this stage in the process.

I have been listening to a lot of baroque/early classical music as I hack through lists of corrections and suggestions for stylistic improvement. By the way, I don’t think I’ve mentioned here my purchase a few months ago of some entry-level hifi — not the really high-end stuff that serious buffs go for, but still a heck of a lot better than what it replaced. There are size constraints dictating the sort of speakers I could go for: so I have a pair of Monitor Audio Radius R90HD mini speakers sitting in the bookshelves, with a matching R360HD subwoofer sitting on the floor. (That’s an odd phenomenon, isn’t it? For classical music, the subwoofer mostly emits quiet growls and rumbles — yet it opens up the sound enormously.) And then I bought an Arcam solo mini amplifier/CD player/radio (again, physical size was an issue, though in this case not a deal-breaker). As it happens, all made within a few miles of Cambridge. I am totally delighted, and have nothing but praise for the local branch of Sevenoaks Sound and Vision who gently advised and let me listen to a number of systems at considerable length.

Anyway, here are a few recommendations for music to do proof-corrections to!

  • Marc-André Hamelin playing Haydn piano sonatas. So far I have his first and third double-CDs: they really are quite extraordinarily good as all the reviews say, better — I think — even than Brendel’s classic discs: hugely recommended. (I was praising the charming Naxos discs by Jandó a few blog-posts ago: but these are in a different league.)
  • The Haydn, however, is so wonderful as to be a bit distracting! Perhaps more conducive to concentration are the terrific discs from Il Giardino Armonico of Vivaldi’s Concerti da camera. There are four in the series: sad completist that I am, I’ve much enjoyed them all tootling away in the background. Very cheap too, through sellers via the Amazon site.
  • Great performances too — by Andrew Manze in particular — of the Albinoni Op. 9 Concerti from Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music.
  • More Vivaldi. I haven’t yet bought Rachel Podger’s new discs, which I must do! But I have been listening again to her wonderful La Stravaganza: terrific playing of such life-affirming music.
  • And then I have listening again to early discs in the quite inexhaustible complete Haydn symphonies conducted by Adam Fischer. (What do you mean you haven’t got that boxed set? For heaven’s sake proceed immediately to Amazon and hit the button: 33 disks for the price of a tolerable meal out …)

OK, time to select another disc and get back to proof-reading!

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One Response to The proof-reader’s playlist

  1. These recommendations are certainly praiseworthy. I believe I own most of these works (albeit not these recordings) in my collection, and can concur with the suggestion that they make a great accompaniment to reading (of any material)!

    On the topic, perhaps I might advocate a few other composers/works along the same lines, in case you or other readers are intrigued. I too explored a great deal of Vivaldi when getting acquainted with the late Baroque, and similarly Haydn with regards to the Classical period, so if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy these similarly.

    Foremost, I must recommend the piano sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, who bridges the late Baroque and early Classical periods but in his own unique style. They widely convey a clean elegance of sound that is more or less unique to that era, and a number of them are thoroughly delightful. Saying that, he was as prolific a sonata composer as Haydn was of symphonies — 555 in total, so I wouldn’t go rushing out to buy the entire set immediately! Secondly, I have a great deal of praise for Luigi Boccherini’s style, best reflected in his string & guitar quartets/quintets, cello concerti, but also symphonies. He is probably the most underrated of Haydn’s contemporaries, too often dismissed for triteness in the past by those unwilling to appreciate his slightly idiosyncratic galante style. There’s an increasing revival movement around his compositions today however, and I for one rate his works for strings above those of Haydn (at least in harmony). In any case, both these composers seem to strike the right balance of harmony, complexity, and digestibility when it comes to reading music.

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