Tuesday 24 July 2012

Modern Spem

Thomas Tallis's glorious 40-part motet Spem In Alium, performed by the Tallis Scholars, is currently riding high in the classical charts, especially the iTunes chart. Good news? Well yes - certainly for the estimable Tallis Scholars - but this success is not the result of a sudden surge of interest in Tudor polyphony but of the all-consuming success of the 'erotic novel' Fifty Shades of Grey. This, I understand, is an account of a 'submissive' relationship, bound by (among other things) elaborately-drafted contracts, between an utterly wet young woman and a creepy, megarich control freak and all-round arse called Mr Grey. One of Mr G's controlling mechanisms is a clunky display of his genius-level grasp of High Culture. His very first gift to his young victim is a first edition (natch) of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and his discourse is punctuated with improving mini-lectures on a variety of educational subjects - how could any woman resist (hem hem)? As for Spem In Alium, I gather from a reader's online commentary that Mr Grey puts it to 'a VERY interesting use' towards the end of the novel - don't ask, I didn't...


  1. Yes I know that one... spem spem spem spem, spem spem spem spem spem, wonderful spem!

  2. Ah yes indeed - and I hope you caught the Airplane! reference in my title...

  3. Considering the number of participants might not Spem in Alium be better utilised as the theme music for an orgy?
    Hollingworths recent Striggio Mass revival follow-through at the York Minster included an interlude during which they performed Spem in Alium, we the audience were invited 'to mingle with the players' who themselves moved around, Renaissance chairs?

    Impressions...rollicking good evening, not sure if the four singers who I stood behind saw the joke when, as they finished Spem, I proffered the comment 'much better than the Kronos Quartet' earlier, the lassie playing the viola da gamba did offer to 'move over a bit so that I could read her music more easily' strange people, musicians.

  4. He simply change the rules about how to make classical music, thats all!.

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