I have, and I realise it, nobody but myself to blame. The concoction of technology necessary in this house to record something from radio is shameful. Believe it or not, it involves recording radio broadcasts on video tape. I have a tape with interviews of Grace Bumbry and Barbara Bonney. I also have a tape full of beautiful music, all of it featuring my personal NZ Idol, Patricia Wright. It's wearing out, I've played it so many times. Videos do that, and it's all the more noticeable when it's only the audio you want. VHS was not designed to record obscure Verdi arias for posterity. In fact, though, it's even worse than all this. The TV doesn't exactly work as a TV should. Actually, without the VCR, it wouldn't work at all. But it's an uneasy relationship, the VCR isn't fond of the TV and thinks even less of me. Which is why, though I left the house pretty certain I'd put everything in place automatically to record the Beethoven Missa Solemnis on Concert FM tonight, featuring said Idol, I in fact recorded something diabolical featuring Simon Barnett. No Missa Solemnis.
Thankfully I was home in time to hear a good deal of it anyway, but that still isn't really enough. I was looking forward, once it ended, playing the tape from start to finish, giving it my undivided attention. Because I thought I'd have that chance, I'm sad to say I didn't quite give it my undivided attention the first time - and now there'll be no second. However, I needs must channel my inner Polyanna. Yes, I'm sad to have missed some of it, and sadder not to have a recording; but I'm glad - so very glad - to have heard what I did. Helen Medlyn is very... visible in the New Zealand music scene (classical and otherwise) but still I've heard awfully little of her - and have at times felt a little afraid to - so it was nice finally to have something other than the persona to deal with, and hear a serious and very beautiful mezzo voice. Sir Donald McIntyre is Sir Donald McIntyre, say no more.
Then, of course, there is Patricia. It's a little like what I was saying about Barbara the other night. You become used to the love of this singer or that, there's no need to think about whys and wherefores, no need for whys or wherefores even to exist. But once in while something new, or something old heard with new ears, seizes you, shakes you, or just takes you by the hand, and says "Remember? This is why you love me so much." Tonight when I heard that voice, so familiar but at the same time new, exhilarating, so-so-beautiful, my spirits lifted and though I hadn't forgotten in the first place, I remembered why even more than before. Now, without a tape of the Missa Solemnis to wear out, I'm seeking solace in Serenata and it is ample compensation; whatever the music, her voice is always itself: vivid, golden-hearted magic.