Clonakilty: A Night with Friends

Ach ja… I hate poxy iMovie! But for love of the Dreas I struggled (manfully) all morning to make a slideshow of last night’s session at the Dodo in Kreuzberg for your delectation. The result is iffy, at best. Please don’t try watching it full screen because the photos get extremely fuzzy. At least, though, the audio (the important bit) no longer sounds like a rattling tin.

More blues…

But of course, my mind turns in this direction when it’s indulging in pretty high-end ‘luxury suffering’—which may be why I never had the guts to attempt to sing the blues. A rather stiff and starchy inside hiding behind a provocatively louche veneer was one of the contradictions that so successfully inhibited many of my activities in the days when I cared to experiment creatively. Still, various forms of inspiration sometimes helped me slur my way through a Torch Song or two without disgracing myself completely; not the blues, though. Perhaps that’s why I love it so much. Do you know this one?

Richard Rodney Bennet

So many hard-to-bear losses in the music world this year: Vishnevskaya, Lisa della Casa, Fischer-Dieskau, Dave Brubeck, Ravi Shankar (to name but a few), and now Richard Rodney Bennet, whose lyricism survived in spite of the prevailing musical whims of the times to write some of the loveliest tunes. He must surely have been loved by both Saraswasti and Manjushri… Do you know this one? It’s the first of five songs in a cycle called ‘The Aviary,’ the words of ‘The Bird’s Lament’, sung here by a young prize-winning English chorister, are by John Clare. 

Truly Spiritual Music (2)

Today’s selection was to be Spem in Alium, but I’ve hit a brick wall. First of all, I can’t find a decent recording that’s freely available for upload, and worse by far, it seems one of the characters of Fifty Shades of Grey (a book I wouldn’t give dustbin space to), according to the Guardian newspaper, likes it so much he (or she, “Christian”) uses it as background music for all manner of badly written sexual acts. So, it seems, sales are booming and you’ve probably already been introduced to this remarkable 40 part motet by Thomas Tallis.

Instead, some more old Bach. He was a follower of Martin Luther and his St Matthew’s Passion (which I’ve already quoted from on this site) contains some of the most beautiful sacred music ever written. As always, the piece I’ve chosen isn’t precisely the interpretation I would choose to share, but it’s not bad. Why isn’t it great? Because the oboe sounds like a constipated duck. The aria, “I would beside my Lord,” or “Ich will bei meinem Jesu,” is sung by the incomparable Fritz Wunderlich, so even I can forgive the fowl oboe. Why is it a ‘truly spiritual’ piece of music? Because the tune is sublime, and the sentiment bitter-sweet devotion.  

Truly Spiritual Music (1)

I’m on a bit of a quest to find music that provides the perfect environment for my mind to relax into quickly (I’m an impatient creature, as you know). Not such a difficult task, actually, but the problem is I forget. So, I’m taking the advice Sogyal Rinpoche gave me decades ago (but which, in the meantime, I forgot) of trying to remember to remember, and will tell you about what I come up with as a way of doing just that.

As I child I was convinced I had been born into a noble Russian family and that my name was really Natasha. Yes, I was delusional from a very early age. I loved everything Russian. Especially the sacred music and the folk songs. And in that spirit, this is what Andreas and I found on youtube this morning, to listen to over breakfast…

Irish Music

Andreas, as you probably know, is something of an Irish traditional music fanatic (he sings rather well, even if I say so myself!) So Ireland, for him, was more about the music than anything else, and he sang every day—even at Dzogchen Beara. Here’s a recording of him singing My Son in America to the residents of the Dzogchen Beara hostel one night, illustrated by a few snaps from our holiday.

Kirsty MacColl

The Guardian ran a piece about Kirsty MacColl on Sunday, the singer/songwriter who died in 2000 (run over by a speed boat in Mexico). I’m not much of a pop fan, but I heard her song “In These Shoes?” while waiting for a movie to begin in one of the old Berlin cinemas (since closed, inevitably, now that the Sony Centre has the monopoly on OV movies). It took some effort to identify what it was, but there are times when being obsessive-compulsive has an upside. And I still listen to this song when I need cheering up.

Kirsty was my age, or would have been had she lived. And coincidentally, I thought of her and this song while we were in Dzogchen Beara, even though I had no idea that her 53rd birthday was coming, or that it would be marked in any way by the press. She popped into my rusty mind for a far more prosaic reason: my lack of appropriate footwear.

Tristesse

Voices are funny things. However great a musician a singer may be, if the voice sets your teeth on edge, you’ll have no hope of enjoying the performance. Benjamin Britten’s partner and favourite tenor, Peter Pears, suffered from a very nasal sound that many people couldn’t bear to listen to, in spite of his exquisite musical interpretation. I have the same problem with Gérard Souzay, master of the mélodie who, being French, had a very French voice, with the kind of vibrato you can crack concrete with. I’ve never been able to listen to him for pleasure.

Anyway, the point here is that I have a sudden and determined longing to introduce you to a lovely song that has almost been frustrated by the limitations of youtube. The only truly great performance it provides is the one by M. Souzay, and I’m almost certain you’ll be completely turned off by him. So I’ve been forced to turn, instead, to Katia Ricciarelli, who you’ve already heard singing the duet from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, but whose Italian operatic voice is a just a bit too sciroppo d’acero for this Fauré song, which barely needs a dusting of icing sugar, and rather more youthful charm than Signorina Ricciarelli can provide. But what to do? It’s the best version I can find for now, and the song is a delight.

Maestro Muti

This recording of Beethoven’s 7th symphony, Muti’s ‘debut’, came out in 1979, and I was at the Festival Hall for the London concert he gave to promote it (might have been in 1980—things moved more slowly back then). Frankly, though, although I remember being utterly thrilled by the music, what I left the concert hall with that night was a dizzy crush on this stupendously sexy Italian. He was (is still, I’m sure) sublimely gorgeous, powerful, musical, successful… and a total bastard. My type to a tee.

He’s made many enemies over the years—if I ever met him I’m sure I’d hate him. The La Scala musicians hated him so vehemently that they ganged up against him and forced the management to sack him. But then, they’re famous for hating just about everyone. In 1980, though, I was at college learning (theoretically at least, between drinking binges) to sing, and still imagined I had a career ahead of me—the fantasies we come up with to get us through life!

For a while in my second or third year, I had an American girlfriend called Karin who was also a singer and who was also training at the same college. I remember her father—an American lawyer who collected stamps, I think as a way of retreating into a world of meticulous care and order, such a contrast to his deeply neurotic family—managed to get one of the publicity posters of Muti from HMV (in those days, not as easy as it should have been) and framed it for her so she could put it over her bed.

They lived in one of those little squares off the King’s Road, Markham Square I think, and she had the two rooms at the top. They were rich. I was living just off Newington Green, north of Islington, in a ground floor flat that I had to leave to get to the bathroom at the top of the staircase. I was poor. Well, not truly poor. I had a grant and didn’t have to pay my college fees, so I was pretty well off in comparison with today’s English kids (poor things) who won’t have the luxury of studying something just for the sake of it. But that’s another story.

Anyway, I brought Karin into this post in the first place because I have a vivid memory of her saying, as we sat waiting in the Blandford Street studios for lessons or a practice room or some such, that she only became really serious about making music her profession when she first saw Muti at that concert. If she could work just once with him, if she could worship at the alter of his prodigious talent, as well as wallow in the deep oceans of his ostentatious Latin sexual magnetism (most of these words are my own invention, but Karin definitely mentioned the ‘sexual magnetism’) she would consider all the years of training we had ahead of us, and the deal-making, and the compromises, worth while.

I remember smiling knowingly (I was all of 19 and quite vile) and changing the subject. I don’t know whether she had a career or not—we didn’t keep in touch—but her aspiration has taken up residence in a side cupboard of memory, and pops out occasionally to make me laugh. Particularly when I hear Beethoven. The recording of the symphony, which I bought at the concert on my shiny new credit card stayed with me too, for a couple of decades. I listened to it obsessively for several years, until I gave away all my records when I moved to CDs, then only slightly less often to the cassette transfer. Before long, though, a dirty tape deck chewed it to pieces and refused even to give it up the shreds, so I haven’t heard it for a while. Not until this morning when I found it on youtube, as I looked for something else entirely.

Bottom line, it’s worth a listen. I wanted just to give you the second movement, but ‘whoever’ uploaded the whole thing in one chunk. It’s really worth the effort it’ll take to carve out the time to listen to it all—and don’t forget to turn on your speakers.

Doloroso

I so rarely listen to music any more (only when something rises in my mind and won’t back off, like a Delhi hawker), I forget how certain harmonies can take hold of the heart and sometimes instantly, but always relentlessly, crush to a pulp one’s resistent to the raw emotions they wring out. I have no control whatsoever over that particular trigger. Take for example this piece of deliciousness from more than 30 years ago. Katia Ricciarelli and Lucia Valentini sing the Doloroso from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater under the baton of the great Claudio Abbado and the orchestra of La Scala Milan. (If you have good speakers, turn them on now.) My eyes are still swimming…

Sleep

My poor husband hasn’t slept this week as a result of unremitting pain from a pinched nerve in his back—goddamn sciatica. Among the many other thoughts and emotions that have crowded my mind during his agonies, blotting out most of the rest of the world it must be said, is the memory of a song I used to sing thirty years with words by John Fletcher. Wonderful, somewhat poignant words in Andreas’ current situation, and indeed for all those who suffer from insomnia. I’ve also attached a lovely but not particularly well recorded version of the Gurney song itself, Sleep, here sung by Ian Bostridge, not me (I wouldn’t do that to you!)

Come, sleep, and with thy sweet deceiving
Lock me in delight awhile;
Let some pleasing dream beguile
All my fancies;
That from thence I may feel an influence
All my powers of care bereaving

Though but a shadow, but a sliding,
Let me know some little joy!
We that suffer long annoy
Are contented with a thought
Through an idle fancy wrought:
O let my joys have some abiding.

 

Dido

I made the mistake of taking a ‘which character from classical mythology are you’ test on the Oxford English Dictionary site, instead of just looking up a word and getting back to work (I wish I had some discipline). It seems I display all the characteristics of Dido, Queen of Carthage. Makes sense in some ways, I suppose. I have queenly aspects to my personality, I think, but I can’t see myself pronouncing curses then committing suicide. Especially not for a man whose father was only a second cousin to King Priam!

(Please note, my tongue is shoved firmly into my cheek as I scribble this—or whatever the computer term for typing quickly and carelessly might be. Scramble? Scroffle? Tribble? An example of snotty English humour at its worst.)

Anyway, the best thing about Dido is the Lament Purcell wrote for her. Sung wonderfully here by Sarah Connolly at the Proms in 2009.

Pogorelich, the Concert

Such a sad evening. The Chopin Sonata was unrecognizable, the Mephisto Waltz might just as well have been played backwards, and clearly, the Wunderkind I fell at the feet of thirty years ago has completely lost it. ‘Incoherent’, which is how a journalist at the New York Times described his playing in 2006, was the least of his problems. He no longer appears to have a technique, an appreciation of rhythm, or any memory of the notes. He slammed his foot down on the sustaining pedal with the subtlety of a pneumatic drill. It was both horrifying (that he even gets a gig these days) and tragic (he was such an artist). The best playing he managed was before the concert began, as he sat at the piano wearing a beanie and chatting with passersby (see below). Not a good sign. We left after the first half.

The Konzerthaus itself was as gorgeous and alluring as ever. We sat in Loge 8. We’ve never sat there before, and had never seen the fish (ditto) or the detail on the ceiling (double ditto). The best thing was that the chairs were freestanding and extremely comfortable.

I suffered a fit of nostalgia today, so I played his recording of the Chopin Sonata to Andreas. It was just as fabulous as I remember it. And made me feel even sadder.

Pogorelich

So, now my mind is back in the 80s and busily sifting through memories of many wonderful theatrical and musical experiences. Between 1978 and 1985, I usually spent four or five nights a week at some Lonodn theatre or other; these days I prefer a plate of steamed veggies and a dvd. How things change.

I was at music college when the shit hit the fan at the 1980 Warsaw Piano Competition. Ivo Pogorelich, the boy Martha Argerich dubbed ‘a genius’, was placed third by the panel of judges, much to Madame Argerich’s disgust, but had his revenge by going on to become one of the most talked-about pianists of his generation. As I’ve completely forgotten who actually won the Warsaw that year, losing seems to have been a pretty good game-plan.

I was lucky enough get tickets to sit in the orchestra for his Festival Hall debut in 1982. The place was packed, not a seat to be had, and I must say, he gave an astounding performance. Tall, a bit gangly and thin, but very romantically beautiful, not only could I not unglue my eyes from his physical form, what I heard was so intense and unexpected that I could barely breathe. It was all so strong and in-your-face. But there’s no real point in trying to describe in words how he played back then, especially when it’s so easy for you to hear for yourself.

He was also ‘interesting’. All kinds of gossip flew around about his relationship with his piano teacher, who was thirty years older than him (I think he was in his early 20s) and whom he later married. She died a couple of years ago of liver disease. One journalist wrote that as her husband bent down to kiss her good bye, her liver burst, plastering him in her blood. She was dead. And he didn’t wash for days…

Anyway, his debut was stunning. The programme included some Boulez, which I couldn’t be much bothered with, and his supremely muscly interpretation of  Schumann’s Symphonic Studies. I bought the recording the moment I left the concert hall, on credit, naturally, then played it dry.

Ten years later I travelled up to Oxford to hear him at the Bodleian Library. There, instead of the beautiful boy I’d fallen for so heavily a decade before, I found a vile, fat, sycophantic alien who, lacking any semblance of musical aspiration, sneered smugly at his audience then beat the piano into submission with laser-like precision. I endured his Mozart, but left before he started flagellating anything else I loved.

Richter didn’t like him at all. Or at least, he didn’t like his early recordings—I don’t think he ever heard him play in the flesh. I wonder, though, if it was really the wife he didn’t like. I think she turned up on his doorstep to promote her protégé husband and extract some kind of endorsement from him, which, naturally, he twigged immediately and as a result took against her before she’d even opened her mouth. He wrote in his notebook that the boy didn’t understand Beethoven at all. But I loved the Op. 111 recording, and the Schumann (as I’ve already mentioned), and his Gaspard la Nuit was quite astounding.

Pogorelich has played in Berlin since I’ve been here, or at least, advertisements pasted in the U-bahn have announced, optimistically, that he’d been booked at the Philharmonie, or the Konzerthaus, or somewhere. But as far as I can tell he cancels more often than he actually plays. Nevertheless, when the Konzerthaus wrote to me this week saying there were a couple of tickets left for his concert next Tuesday, I snapped them up immediately.

The thing is I really want to love him again. I want to reinstate him in my pantheon of ‘greats’. And that’s why I seized the tickets with such eagerness. So, as part of my attempt to rehabilitate the now Croatian musical superstar, here’s a clip from youtube of one of the pieces he played during his controversial performance at the Warsaw Competition. It’s one of Chopin’s virtually-impossible-to-play Scherzos, and I think this recording shows just how keenly he fingers the keys. My great hope is that the 50 year old Ivo will have rubbed off a few of the sharper corners that afflicted the 30 year old. Let’s see.

The Liebestod

Phil went to the Staatsoper’s Tristan and Isolde last night and it got me thinking about Wagner (a shitty bastard if ever there was one, but quite a musician) and all the Liebestod’s I’ve heard and loved this lifetime. This particular outpouring (one of the most beautiful death scenes ever written) comes, as you know, at the end of a five hour opera. The snag with this opera, though, is that everything interesting has already happened before the curtain rises. Typical Wagner!

The recording I remember owning, which I never once listened to from beginning to end in one go (five hours is a big commitment), was the 1966 live Bayreuth recording with Brigit Nilsson singing the Liebestod. The woman was a force of nature. I have never seen or heard a singer with a more secure technique or such absolute confidence. It doesn’t even occur to her that she might not rise to the many technical and emotional challenges of the piece. Amazing stuff, really.

In my teens, the great Hildegard Behrens was flavour of the month amongst the Wagnerians (I was more interested in the Italians myself) and the only other really great Wagnerian soprano I knew of at that time was Kirsten Flagstad. Most of the Wagnerian spoofs comedians indulged in—back in the heady days when popular culture had the wit to lampoon high culture without worrying about whether or not they were alienating their audience, which these days are assumed to be dimwitted and lowbrow—tended to home in on Flagstad’s and Nilsson’s looks and delivery. A shame really, they were extrordinary singers in so many ways.

Just the idea of posting a recording of Wagner’s music is itself a painful contradiction for Wagnerians (an obsessive and often touchy breed). Although I’m sure Richard himself would not only have embraced today’s new technologies, but have pushed the envelope to the limit, I doubt he’d ever be thrilled by the idea that all the layers of luscious sound he created is so often mashed and filtered through very inadequate speakers. But needs must, and I really don’t care that much about Richard Wagner’s sensibilities.

My offering today is a very bizarre confection. Maria Callas—not a noted Wagnerian, but hired by some madman to sing Isolde and Brünnhilde in her early 20s, if memory serves—recorded the Liebestod in Italian, and amazingly the recording still exists. So although I feel sure I’ve played it for Phil at some time over the past couple of decades, as his memory is even lousier than mine, I’ve decided to play it for him again, to celebrate the loss of his Wagnerian virginity, and hope you too enjoy listening. 

Unexpected Beauty

The things we do for our friends! Heinz, for example. It was his 50th birthday last month, and last night he held a spectacular party to celebrate. Inevitably, there were oceans of champagne (the really good stuff), plus delicious cocktails (not that my liver would allow me to sample them, damn it!), and yummy food (cheese mousse served as finger food!), elegant 1950s coaches to ship 200 drop-dead gorgeous friends from the atmospheric old factory where we gathered to the mysterious party palace that turned out to be Cookie’s place (Cookie is a Berlin institution, but he’s also English…) on the Fredrichstrasse (recently renovated and much improved) where a muscly acrobat performed daring feats with a large hoola hoop and Patti Smith serenaded Heinz until midnight.

Patti was a gift from Heinz’s wife, Julia, for his 50th birthday. Heinz has always had wonderfully good taste, which he demonstrated early on by falling in love with Patti at the age of sixteen. (In stark contrast to myself, whose taste is at best, questionable, and who, at the same age, fell in love with Eric Clapton. Ach ja…)

Anyway, Julia, with a little help from well-connected friends, flew Patti and two musicians from her band over to Berlin, met her three times to plan the gig (heart-fluttering stuff for fans of the lady), managed to keep it all a secret (would you have managed it?) and at around 11pm last night, the curtain rose on nearly an hour of musical ecstasy. What a marvellous thing to do for someone you love, don’t you think?

I’ve never seen Patti live before and I don’t think I ever really got her until last night. Cameras really aren’t her friends and don’t even begin to capture her vital, tender beauty. None of the films I’d seen even hinted at the her radiant charisma and the pure joy with which she fills a room.

Heinz was in seventh heaven, as you might image. And it truly was a joy to be there with him. One of the many things I love about Heinz is that his friends are people he loves, not people who are or could be useful to him. He is genuinely humble about his many achievements and so very appreciative of everyone and everything he encounters in life. For someone as successful and comfortable as he is even to recognize the value of the Buddha’s teachings, especially these days, is itself something of a miracle. As Wim Wenders said last night, he is the sweetest of men.

Happy Birthday Heinz. Thank you for being you! And don’t forget, the best is yet to come…

All Passion Spent

As most of you will already know, but I had forgotten, the line in Milton’s incomprehensible epic poem Samson… something or other, that ends “all passion spent” begins “Calm of mind”. Such calm still eludes me, but as yet not quite all passion has been spent, although the vein is open and the leak rapid.

The idea of passion, for so long dormant in this rusty mind, recently dragged itself from the corroding recesses of memory and limped around in conscious thought for a bit. I noticed it first when I reacquainted myself with Eric Clapton’s Layla, an album I wore smooth when I was 16. To my surprise, I find I have to really concentrate to listen to it now, I can’t just let it pour in. Why has listening become to difficult, I wondered? Why is it such an effort?

You won’t be surprised to hear that the root of the problem is that bloody awful, unturnoffable moment-by-moment audio commentary, now omnipresent in this idiot ‘mind’, ceaselessly obliterating this-moment-mind with a never-ending rattle of words. I feel like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. “Words! Words! Words” she sneers contemptuously as she describes the advent of the talkies, remember?

For example, at 16, I didn’t ever wonder who the other voice singing with Clapton belonged to. Or who played the other guitar(s). Or who wrote the songs. Or who the other members of Derek and the Dominos were. Or even if they made another album. None of these questions existed for me. I just gave myself up to the passionate responses the music inspired and to my longing for a relationship of such intensity that some kind of ‘art’ would be its product.

Yet, not having listened to the album for thirty-odd years (very odd some of them), a mere 30 seconds into the first track of side one (“I Looked Away”) and I was surfing the net to find out who wrote it and who Clapton was singing with. I went on to think about how different it is to listen to a playlist rather than a four sided double album at the same time as glancing through discographies, Clapton’s website, Bobby Whitlock’s website, Amazon’s website (to order Clapton and Pattie Boyd’s biographies—which I devoured, in spite their dreariness, his more than hers), and so on, and so forth, ad infinitum. Before I knew it, “Thorn Tree in the Garden” announced an hour and a quarter had passed and I’d barely listened to a note.

No wonder middle age zips past so quickly! That absurd, unstoppable roar of endless questions and commentaries drowns out all spontaneity and doodles over the pristine white page that distinguishes ‘youth’ from ‘maturity’. And all fed by the ease of the information highway. Goddamit!

One interesting distraction did come from all those mouse clicks: I discovered on youtube a ‘new’ song, or at least, one I hadn’t heard before, ‘Old Love’ and this performance of it. I’d edit out the latter half if it hadn’t been a youtube steal, but for 7 minutes or so it’s really not bad, for an old man.

Is it interesting to tell you that Mr Clapton is my 16-year old self’s ideal? I simply couldn’t resist men who were egocentric, desperately insecure, uncommunicative (except through their chosen art, usually music), chauvinistic (do you remember the term ‘male chauvinist pig?’), who had addictive personalities, were extraordinarily talented and harboured a death wish. Fortunately, I grew out of it after much bitter experience. In retrospect I realize I spent a massive chunk of my allotted passion on such creatures way before I hit 25. And only then discovered the vajrayana.

Weeping Guitar

OK, so it’s better not to spend too much time looking at the clothes they’re wearing, because, after all, this concert took place in the 80s… But noone makes a guitar weep like Eric. Except perhaps Peter Green.

This weeping guitar video made it into the blog after I watched the new Scorsese documentary about George Harrison this week. It’s worth investing three and half hours in watching. The music and the story are very familiar, but the snippets of spiritual stuff that Scorses manages to slip in seamlessly are really very inspiring. And it oiled a great many rusty bits of memory, some of which make me blush as I type.

Ravi Shankar makes an appearance and talks about the power of music, which to him and most Hindus is a manifestation of god. Some music, he says, like Indian classical music, European Baroque, Gregorian chant, help elevate the spirit and encourage spiritual reflection. Other music is a manifestation of demons, because it agitates the spirit and encourages behaviour that is rather less than spiritual (my precis). It’s true, I think. Certainly in my experience.

These days, if I listen to music at all it’s Andreas singing Irish songs in the shower, or old man Bach. When I hear the music of my youth (see below) out of nowhere I start longing for a stiff drink (no ice) and a fag. Or whatever. And even though I don’t seek it out any more, I still love the blues and adore a seriously muscular wailing guitar (see below).

I don’t know what Khyentse Rinpooche makes of the blues. I wonder if he’s even been exposed to it. The last time we discussed music in any form was after a concert of Brahms and Strauss at the beautiful Konzerthaus in Berlin. I’d been completely blown away but the lusciousness of the Strauss (Ein Heldenleben) but for Rinpoche it was “too much noise”. He preferred the Brahms (the double concerto), which has far more obvious tunes in it. Different strokes, I guess.

Eglise Gutiérrez

At last, I’ve come across quite a good coloratura soprano—a jewel amidst the sex kittens and italian volcanos who attempt the coloratura repetoire because they want to be hailed as the new Callas, not because they can sing it or have any understanding of the style.

There will never be another Callas, certainly not Eglise, but she isn’t at all bad. It’s a marvellous voice and she is very beautiful, every inch a diva. But what I love about her is that she really seems to love to sing. Netrebko and co. just want to be popstars. They have virtually no feeling for the music they squark and have forged their careers by copying Callas’ old recordings. Eglise, on the other hand manages to rise above that crap. She is completely entranced by the music and the glorious act of singing, which on a good day can be an even more sensual experience than sex. And she doesn’t have to choreograph being sexy…

I should add that I’d like to hear slightly crisper diction, she does have a tendency to indulge, especially on the high notes, and she is rarely still. But I can live with with her shortcomings because they are nothing in comparison to her wonderful phrasing, amazing technique, lovely sound and sheer enthusiasm. Of course, her conductors are insensitive egomaniacs, but what to do? One day Rattle or Abbado or Muti will work with her and give her the support she deserves.