Wednesday 13 November 2019

'Restoring intellectual day'

Has there ever been an election campaign as dismally uninspired, and uninspiring, as this one? Apart from the one important issue – Brexit, about which there is probably little more to be usefully said at this point  – the parties seem to have nothing more to tell us than how much of our money they're itching to throw away. With the socialists and the tories competing to outspend each other, those of us of a conservative bent can only look on and wonder what became of English conservatism; it certainly doesn't reside in Johnson's 'Conservative' party. What a dismal lookout.
  As a result of all this – piled on top of what was already wrong with them – the news programmes are becoming quite unlistenable (not to mention unwatchable). Radio 4's Today programme has become something from which I recoil each morning in horror, taking refuge with Radio 3, or my own music. Recently I've been exploring Handel, particularly the operas – why did it take me so long to realise what a great composer he was?
  And so it was that this morning I happened upon this sublimely beautiful duet...

It's from his pastoral ode L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato, but the words of 'As Steals the Morn' are adapted from Shakespeare, from the final act of The Tempest –

As steals the morn upon the night,
And melts the shades away:
So truth does fancy's charm dissolve,
And melts the shades away:
The fumes that did the mind involve,
Restoring intellectual day.

'Restoring intellectual day' – aah, if only...


  1. It took you so long Nige because this great Lutheran still lies in the shadow of the other giant born in the same year, just a couple of hundred kilometres away. Apart from those two facts, any attempts to link them seem specious at best. What staggers me is not just the volume (with both of them), but the level of inspiration throughout their lives, which rarely seems to flag. Like you, I came late to him, when I attended a performance of his last oratorio Jephtha in Koln, being unable to find my way back to the barge I was sleeping on afterwards, so stunned was I. And this sent me backwards in his life to discover other riches, of which there are many. At that concert, by the way, not just individuals, but whole rows of the audience were weeping, some uncontrollably. Handel, unlike his almost exact contemporary, can do this. It doesn't make him better; it makes him different.

  2. Ah yes, old JSB – the giant of giants... I'm just glad to be finally catching up with GFH. And I think I was set on the trail by you, Mm, back in those much missed Dabbler days.
    By the way, JSB has quite often reduced me to tears.

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