Friday, 28 August 2009

Weekend Viewing

Up in Flames

I spent a fair bit of last weekend following the live coverage on Greek TV and radio of the forest fires that were rampaging through North East Attiki (near to Athens). Many people were evacuated, and hundreds of homes were either completely burned down or were damaged. Several countries sent help, including a helicopter and a team of firefighters from Cyprus. Satellite pictures from NASA showed the smoke getting as far as North Africa.

People didn't always heed the authorities' advice to evacuate, and those living in areas where the fire service didn't send planes and helicopters to drop water were understandably frustrated. In the end, though, the fires were contained, though of course at this time of year there are bound to be more around the country.

Yesterday a pilot died when his firefighting plane crashed, probably into electric cables. A similar accident cost two crew their lives in 2007, and was put down to human error. The planes can be in the air constantly during the daylight hours and have to try and dive low in smoky conditions, so it's not surprising that accidents happen.

Name That Tune

This week's random musical accompaniment to my life this week was Beethoven's Eroica Variations.

Beethoven was an expert at producing variations. Usually there is a theme, which is played first. Then variations of this theme follow. For example, Beethoven wrote some brilliant variations on the British National Anthem, and "Rule Britannia". Earlier composers were generally not as bold or creative, and very few composers have ever matched Beethoven's exuberance, and humour. I don't really know how music can be humorous, but his variations are. Even Albert Brendel says so. Syncopation is another strong feature of his works which is particularly noticeable in his variations.

In the Eroica variations, he starts off by playing not the tune, but the bass line on its own. Then he messes around with that a few times, before finally playing the main theme and its 15 variations.

The reason this is running through my head is that I played through the first few pages of this before giving up and playing Glenn Gould's recording of the work. I have to admit that his playing was just a bit better than mine, though I'm not so sure that his singing was...

Have a good weekend!


Bee said...

Andy has been messing with my laptop so I can't make the video play.

Greece fires :o(

A few years ago, there was a horrible fire in California and one of the towns I remembered from my childhood (Pine Valley) burned down.

Dan said...

that was nice, although I never heard the guy sing.

To me classical music is old Aerosmith and Van Halen, I never really paid much attention to the real stuff, if I were to get a CD of classical music what would you recommend? ... I already have Permanent Vacation and 5150.

Dan said...

I just thought about that stupid question people ask all the time about Van Halen:

Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?

If you even give a shit you are really old, if you answer David Lee Roth you ARE REALLY REALLY OLD!!!

Brian o vretanos said...


You're really suffering from this sharing thing, aren't you? I hope Andy gets his computer fixed soon.


They used to do their best to keep microphones away from him, so it's only very faint.

I've never heard of that van man, or the arrowsmith guy or the Hagar fellow, unless he was the one in Bladerunner. I have heard of David Lee Roth. I'm not sure why. Maybe a really old relative mentioned him.

If I were you I'd try Jacques Loussier.

Jean Knee said...

all we get to hear around here are The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana

both better than Barney so we're making progress

Brian o vretanos said...

I don't think that Helena was ever exposed to such disturbing images as a dancing purple dinosaur. Though the Teletubbies aren't much better, I suppose. They don't sing, though.