DESERT ISLAND PICKSSo. If you were marooned on a desert island, and could have only one book, one film, and one cd with you, what would they be? Frankly I’m doing well to get it down to five of each: choosing just one is incredibly difficult, and, in a couple of months time, I’d probably give completely different answers. It all depends on what mood we’re in, and where we are in our lives. So I’ve simply gone with: which ones do I keep coming back to over time. Feel free to post your own up. BOOKWatership Down by Richard Adams. I was given this as a present when I was 9. I ignored it for a few months, because, despite the picture of the rabbit on the cover, I assumed it was something to do with ships: eventually I read it, and a love affair was born. I still have my original copy, held together with sellotape, and with my name and address written on the edge in marker (the full address, ending in Earth, The Universe). I read it every 3 or 4 years, and I still get completely involved each time, even though I know it backwards.These are no Beatrix Potter bunnies, dressing up in trousers and going off to work in the office. There has to be some element of anthropomorphism, obviously, or there’d be no story, but Adams keeps it to a plausible minimum, and portrays them as authentically as possible within that frame, while giving them distinct, rounded personalities: the visionary Fiver; intelligent Blackberry; macho Bigwig; crazy Woundwort; and peevish Hawkbit, the only rabbit I’ve ever wanted to slap.It can be read as an allegory, I suppose, with Woundwort and Efrafa representing totalitarianism, but that’s turning it into too much work for my liking. I read it as a story – exciting, sad, scary, inspiring, engaging, and very very imaginative. FILMI’m not really much of a film person, I lack the attention span for them, but there are a few that make it through my lack of visual awareness. Harold and Maude turns the idea of love on its head, and manages to be simultaneously dark, light, daft, clever, quirky, and sweet. It covers the big themes – love, fear, death, freedom – in a very low-key and flaky way that’s beautifully humane and life-affirming. Cat Stevens provides the soundtrack that catches the mood perfectly. MUSICGuitar legend Richard Thompson proves his versatility in 1000 years of popular music. Literally what it says on the tin. Alongside Thompson are Judith Owens (Mrs Harry Shearer) on keyboards, and the magnificent Debra Dobkin on drums; and between the three of them they take us through the centuries, beginning with some seriously catchy medieval songs and covering pretty much every genre along the way, including ballads, music hall, honky tonk, a glorious version of The Easybeats’ ‘Friday on my mind’, before delivering a very tongue-in-cheek rendition of Britney’s ‘Oops I did it again’. The box set comes with 2 CDs (perfect for singing along to in the car) and a DVD of the gig, which includes all the between-song banter. Rich, versatile, educational in the best sense of the word.
Doc Watson was the best American Folk guitarist that lived. He died on the 29 May 2012 at the age of 89. He was born into a musical family and lost his sight before his first birthday. Although he never had a hit record or was in the American Billboard chart, he was a leader of the American folk music that became commercially popular particularly through the Coen Brothers film, "O Brother Where Art Thou?". His distinctive style was born out of playing fiddle parts in a country swing band. Before that the guitar was a background instrument to the ukulele and fiddle. His lightening quick finger and flat picking style is a pleasure to listen to as it accompanies his mellow voice filled with sincerity.He has won seven Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award.The Album Trouble in Mind is a compilation of performances and background of the earliest folk and blues songs that inspired him while growing up.I think if you are new to his music then The Essential Doc Watson Volume 1 is a great place to begin. Both of these titles and more are available in the Music Library. There is also a biography available called Blind But Now I See.If you are a fan of the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album Raising Sand, then you are familiar with an original Watson song, Your Long Journey. Just go to www.youtube.com, and type his name in, enjoy!
David Oistrakh, Artiste du Peuple? is a film by Bruno Monsaingeon which traces the life of David Oistrakh, who is recognised not only as a great violinist but also as one of music's most interesting personalities. Born in Odessa in 1908 into a Jewish family of merchants, David Oistrakh lived through the troubled years of the October Revolution. At the age of five he began studying the violin and viola and went on to perform at many concerts throughout the Soviet Union playing Khachaturian, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and others to packed audiences. He won several prizes along the way including the Stalin Prize in 1942.As a result of the political situation at the time and especially because of Stalinism and World War II, Oistrakh's career in Western Europe, America and Japan bloomed relatively late. Oistrakh continued to play the violin, sometimes on the front lines for thousands of soldiers. He was allowed to travel after the end of World War 11. The fact that he had joined the Communist Party allowed him certain freedom. He travelled to the countries in the Soviet Bloc and even to the West and eventually, in 1955, he was allowed to tour the U.S.. By 1959, he was beginning to establish a second career as a conductor and in 1960 he was awarded the coveted Lenin Prize. At this stage he had already become one of the Soviet Union's principal cultural ambassadors, giving live concerts and recordings. However, he died suddenly in Amsterdam, having suffered a third heart attack and is buried in Moscow. He was married with one son.David Oistrakh remained very loyal to Russia, to the people and to whoever was in power at the time "I owe this regime, whatever its faults, my life. They gave me my musical upbringing".I found this DVD very interesting, not just for the music but also because it gives a great insight into life in Russia during the war times.You can contact staff in the Music Library, via telephone (01) 8734333, email [email protected] or in person. The Music Library is located in the Central Library, Ilac Centre, Henry Street, Dublin 1.
A DVD, Julia Fischer Violin & Piano, available to borrow at the Music Library, features Julia Fischer, playing solo on piano and violin in the same concert. The concert was recorded at Frankfurt, 1st January 2008.Julia Fischer says she knew from an early age that she wanted to be a musician. She took up the violin because, when she was a child she always had to wait until her mother and her brother (who is four years older than her) had finished practising on the family's only piano. From the age of four she received piano lessons from her mother and applied herself at the Piano with nearly the same intensity she brought to playing the violin.Finally, at the 2008 New Year's Concert in Frankfurt's Alte Oper, with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie under Matthias Pintscher, the internationally celebrated violinist fulfilled one of her fondest wishes, playing not only the Violin Concerto No 3 in B minor by Camille Saint-Saens, but also, Edvard Grieg's famous A minor Piano Concerto with equal acclaim. It is a rare experience for an artist to play two concertos on different instruments.You can contact staff in the Music Library, via telephone (01) 8734333, email [email protected] or in person. The Music Library is located in the Central Library, Ilac Centre, Henry Street, Dublin 1.