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Guts, fireworks and sorcerors (Hall of Fame #74)

There's nothing subtle about Music for the Royal Fireworks, Handel's bombastic piece that ranks 74th in the Classic FM chart. Apparently it had pretty explosive first outing in 1749. The music launched with greater success than the actual fireworks, which set their wooden stage alight causing havoc.

In the video below, taken from the BBC Proms 2012, the orchestra aim to recapture the raucous energy Handel must have intended. The conductor is striking in his sorcerer's outfit. The horn players stand hand-on-hip in an "I'm the boss" pose that even rock stars would be embarrassed to perform.

They're wildly out of tune and they don't care. "Intonation be damned!" cry the YouTube commentators. Oh yes, it's another Historically Informed Performance, so along with pitchy brass we can assume the string players are fiddling with the guts of sheep and cows. (I watched a very educational video recently about the history of gut strings. In a nutshell; no they never use cat guts, but yes, other animals' intestines are still being used today).

Am I going to comment on the actual music? Yes: It is very good.

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