MUSIC / Free spirits: Choked by CDs, Meredith Oakes makes the case for the live experience

There were about 35 CDs in the Tallis Scholars brochure at their Tuesday concert in St John's, Smith Square. On Sunday morning at the Wigmore Hall, the Quatuor Mosaques paused in its weekend Haydn-Boccherini Festival to be presented with the 1993 Gramophone Award for Chamber Music, while people ran around carrying CDs stacked like pancakes. Twenty new live CDs of Indian music were advertised at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Monday night, when Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was recorded live in concert. How many CDs can the world absorb?

Indian classical music, with its basis in improvisation, is an interesting case: each concert is unique and potentially collectable. In Monday's flower-decked ceremonial circumstances, the tension between music uniquely linked to a time and a place, and music technologically multiplied, packaged and preserved, was poignant. Two low, white-draped platforms were on the stage. The big one, with its red oriental carpet, was for Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, master of the sarod. The other was for His Holiness Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji, spiritual head of the Namdhari Sikhs, a slim elder who sat listening cross- legged while an attendant ritually whisked flies away with a white horsehair switch. As Ustad Amjad Ali performed, he threw playful glances to His Holiness, seeking connoisseur approval for daring turns of phrase. To the left and right of them were the biggest black loudspeakers I've ever seen.

The amplification was too strong. The metallic bite of the scouring fingernail articulations was boosted so much that it made you flinch. Here, as in the speechmaking, which tended to equate the buying of CDs with support for all that was best in Sikh spiritual life, there was need for fine tuning.

Ustad Amjad Ali offered a suitably extrovert programme whose highlights were incredible feats of speed and percussive energy, both from the sarod and from the two tabla stars, Anindo Chatterjee and the lightning-handed Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari. The slow introduction to the dark, minor-coloured raga after the interval was rich in those curling, sighing, sliding whispers where the sarod, with its fretless metal fingerboard, excels: I would have liked more of this.

People packed the Wigmore for the Quatuor Mosaques, witnessing the absolute triumph of Haydn's cogent, whole-hearted inventiveness over the highly coloured minimalist piquancies of Boccherini (which were certainly fun). Even the playing style differed: antique short-breathed aerated scoops gave way almost irresistibly to a franker, more modern, bows-on-strings approach when Haydn stepped in. There were clean, lovely, sensitively coloured tone, sometimes over-careful tempi from the quartet and its collaborators, who included the immaculate lutenist-guitarist Jose Miguel Moreno.

The Tallis Scholars were bliss, again. Josquin's Missa ad fugam redeployed its four parts with such subtle variety that the often rhythmically plain setting never palled. Two Magnificats and a splendidly rhetorical motet Vae, vae Babylon, by Nicholas Gombert, showed single chords being harnessed for emphatic, expressive gestures, and false relations heightening the emotional crunch. Terrifying solo entries were well survived.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor