Iain Cameron's Diary
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2012-11-09 - 6:27 p.m.

Yesterday was action-packed. I went to hear Songs in the City at St Botolphs at lunchtime with a recital called Debussy and his Women. The songs were interspersed with readings from his letters and there were a couple of piano pieces as well. The audience was rather meagre but I enjoyed the event a great deal. All three of the Chansons de Bilitis were in the programme. Paul Roberts thinks that these three songs are superior to the incidental music which became Epigraphes Antiques. Whereas the EAs are merely erotic the CdeB communicate deeper feeling in his view. I listened to the EAs arranged for a flute quartet on Youtube. I couldnt agree with Roberts less. The EAs are not simply erotic for a start. In fact the subject of Debussy and eroticism is complicated not least in the comparison between the Faun Prelude and Jeux.

After the recital I made my way to Watersons on Gower St. I ended up buying a collection of essays by TS Kuhn put together after his death to show how he developed the ideas he launched in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. TSK's book made a big impact on me in my teens.

Then on to St Peters in Eaton Square for a programme by David Norris and St John Tomlinson of settings of Michelangelo's verses by Britten, Wolf and Shostakovitch. This was magnificent. The Britten was originally written for tenor but JT and DN rearranged it for bass. In Britten's career these seven sonnet settings are the first vocal composition where he reveals his true potential.

The Shostakovitch settings are from the end of his career and represent his public articulation of black thoughts that he had been keeping to himself. It has emerged that I have seen JT before in Parsifal at the ENO.

Michelangelo was an innovative poet on top of everything else. The combined effect of these two recitals are to make me want to do sonnet settings myself.

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