Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Sunday 28 February 2010

From the sublime...

What to do with an impromptu day off? Just lazing around with the newspaper seemed too much like any weekend, so eventually I took myself into town to look at the National Gallery, where I haven't been for years. It took a TV programme to alert me to this treasure in the Gallery, the Wilton Diptych. Just another reminder of how little one takes advantage of all the things available to Londoners.

And when due respect had been paid to that, and Rembrandt and the Dutch painters, what then? I finally set about an idea I've had for some time, to get a turntable that will play 78s, with a view to digitising the shelves full of family inheritances and junkshop acquisitions from decades ago. I had it down for a retirement project, but who knows how long it will be before suitable turntables are no longer made?

So I spent most of a wet weekend getting to grips with records I'd almost forgotten about, and learning the limitations, not only of technology, but also of my patience in getting the best out of it. For some prized old recordings, I might make the effort to try to suppress the worst of the hiss and clicks (though come to think of it, the really great old performances have probably all been professionally done and put on CD years ago). For others, it seems only too appropriate to hear them as though they were ghosts dimly perceptible through the aural fog of decades. This, by the way, is from a record (possibly from 1910) of Maritana, in mid-Victorian times a hugely popular opera (be warned, I think I sense a theme coming on for future posts):

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