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I heard something wonderful on the radio a couple of days ago, and the best thing was that I was expecting to react violently against it.  Instead I found myself captivated and felt the need to write an entry.

The work was Gibbons’ gem of an anthem This Is The Record Of John, one of the finest products of the last of a long line of great English composers just before the schism that was the Civil War.  Gibbons died in his early 40s, a source of great sadness at the time and even today, when one considers what he might have written and how the history of our music might have been different had he lived longer.

The point, though, is this – the work had been rescored by Nico Muhly (I think – I was on the A3 at the time), so that the solo voice was played by a string instrument, and the string parts were played by the piano and various others.  I must admit that I went from sniffy condescension to utter delight, and pretty swiftly at that.  It sounds bizarre, but it was like looking at an object you know very well, but when the light is shining on it through a stained glass window.  The thing itself is exactly the same, but the colours are strange and fascinating, almost alien.

Anyway, if you are of a curious bent, I highly recommend that you seek it out, especially if you already know and love the Gibbons.  You may well think the same as I initially, and, with a bit of luck, you might just have a similar Damascene conversion.  It was a timely reminder not to approach things with a closed mind.

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