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Just Messiaen about?

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  • Just Messiaen about?

    The US election result brought 'A Cure for Cancer' to mind, almost inevitably. Irrelevantly, I happened to recall a typically enigmatic reference to Jerry playing the ondes in 'Turangalila' and, I think, being dissatisfied with his performance. Was this reference just one of the cryptic asides that I like so much about that book (I've found myself dropping them into conversations to flummox boring people. 'Unused...unusual...' is a good 'un)? Or is there some particular explanation for the reference? Perhaps you just liked the music - or had a few lagers with Yvonne Loriod in the Ladbroke Arms one evening...

  • #2
    Long time since I wrote it, pard, but as I recall I was just pushing my enthusiasm for Messiaen and maybe making an elliptical reference to the End of Time! In those days there was only one version -- the Boulez- which I still think is one of the very best. Rattle's was a travesty. I've despised the man as a conductor ever since. Probably unfair, but he should lay off music he can't conduct, I say. There was a lot of cryptic stuff in that particular book. I decided that there was too much, when I came to write the third one (Assassin), but the technique continued in the short stories. They are still meant as mirrors so the reader can look in and see whatever they want to see reflected in them. Well, there was also a lot of anger in me, too, at a certain American military adventure which seemed to be costing far too many lives on both sides. So what are you saying ? Something I wrote around 1969 has relevance to 2004 ?
    Surely not... That would be very depressing.

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    • #3
      (Drums fingers impatiently on desk) Your irony is wasted on me, Eenglishman - if you're surprised at the repeated relevance of anything in the Cornelius books, I'm a runesword-bearing albino (as opposed to the rotund middle-aged Welsh bloke I keep seeing in the mirror). The Cornelius books in general always seemed to me like rolling a multifaceted dice - sooner or later, they present you with an unnerving reflection of the here-and-now, whatever it may be. And yes, the link with the 'Quatuor' went straight over my head, even though it's a small enough ellipse as ellipses go!

      I got to hear a youthful 'Extra-Pecker' Salonen conduct 'Turangalila' in London in the 80s and bought his subsequent CBS recording on the strength of it, although others were quite sniffy about his version. I've not heard Rattle's, but I know what you mean - I've got his Sibelius cycle on EMI which I use mainly as a paperweight.

      While I'm here, did your idea of moving back to Europe ever progress? It'll be Christmas soon and grandchildren everywhere will be looking out for that big geezer with the beard... :)