Desert Island Discs constantly reveals the personal meanings of music in our lives. Cate Blanchett’s thoughtful recent selection included Mahler 5, featured in her new movie Tár, in which she plays a conductor—despite rave reviews (see under Endeavour), I look forward to watching it with a certain trepidation, since Western Art Music seldom comes off lightly at the hands of directors (cf. Philharmonia). Anyway, her choice of the second movement (with Abbado, to boot!) was most discerning.
I have to admit that I’ve never warmed to the voice of Kathleen Ferrier, although I’m a devoted fan of Janet Baker. The series generally suggests Christopher Small’s plea to recognise the value of all kinds of musicking, not merely the “prestigious” (cf. What is serious music?!), and guests often include a track of amateur, domestic musicking that evokes intense memories or associations.
Cate introduces Molly Drake (1915–93; playlist), observing: “So private, she was making music inside her home, for herself really… she gives me quiet courage.” Her choice is The little weaver bird:
Pundits have made a link between Molly’s “melancholy meditations on the fragility of happiness” and those of her son Nick.
Cate Blanchett’s final disc was Count Basie’s mantric, hypnotic rendition of Neil Hefti’s Lil Darlin’ (another gift from Tár):
Right at the end Basie slips in a little quote from In my solitude.
I’m even more infatuated by this version by the wonderful Sant Andreu jazz band (cf. here, and sequel):
Those hieratic wind chords remind me (and probably only me) of Messiaen.