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HIPster Wars - News from the Bach Front - Communiqué 39
on 9 June 2012
"Well, the Ides of March are come," Father Melchizedek OP, the High Priest of Period Practice whinnied to the William Christie as they were being driven towards the Theatre of Pompey where the Senate of SPECTRE (Sinister Period-Practice Enacted to Counter Traditional Readings Everlastingly) was due to meet.
"Ay, Your Holiness, but not gone!" the conductor of Les Arts Florissants replied back. "After all, your trusty man-servant Cato has gone missing for the past month or so. Not a week goes by without our people have to thwart an assassination attempt on your life by our adversaries at Universal Imports. And strange to say, you have enemies inside SPECTRE itself!"
The cleric snorted back.
"Karajan-ists die many times before their deaths. The valiant HIPster never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
Their destination was upon them. Upon alighting from their vehicle, Father Melchizedek was surrounded by supplicants, each of them seeking his benediction for this project or that, be it Buxtehude, Schütz or Dowland. As he was being jostled by the crowd, the High Priest of Period Practice glimpsed an oriental face; the man was trying to push his way towards the crowd to reach him but the throng refrained him from doing so.
"Yond' Masaaki Suzuki," the cleric commented to his companion, "has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much and probably plays at 430HZ: such men are dangerous!"
Ten minutes later, Father Melchizedek stood in front of the Senate. With his pectoral cross glittering in the light, he drew himself up to his full height (some five feet tall) and shrieked out in his falsetto voice:
"Friends, HIPsters, journeymen, lend me your clipped phrases; I come to bury Bach, not to praise him."
"I say, what tommyrot is this!" Jeggy shrieked as he leapt from his marble-bench in fury. He was not alone: many a colleague rose to their feet to voice their displeasure. Father Melchizedek pleaded for calm.
"No, I am not referring to the divine Johann Sebastian Bach as played on an instrument that he would have recognised: a harpsichord. I am referring to the Bach who is degraded and perfumed by being performed on a Steinway!"
A conflagration erupted in the assembly. Fists were thrown. In the kerfuffle, a figure darted over to Father Melchizedek. Before security could intervene, he repeatedly stabbed the cleric with a compact disc and then made good his escape. The High Priest of Period Practice, his toga sodden with blood, slumped to the ground.
"O mighty Melchizedek!" the cleric yapped theatrically. "Dost thou lie so low? Are all thy conquests, glories with a lute, triumphs, spoils, shrunk to this little measure?"
Come Monday morning, a report was on Ernst Hogwood Blofeld's desk.
"So how is our ecclesiastic friend?" the Head of SPECTRE snarled. "Who was behind it and what weapon did they use?"
"Father Melchizedek OP is perfectly fine," his assistance replied sprucely. "It was only a flesh-wound. All he needed was a couple of bandages but he refuses to leave the intensive care unit all the same! The assailant was likely to be Cato, as Maestro Suzuki is currently in Tokyo. As for the weapon, it was Pierre-Laurent Aimard's Art of the Fugue as played on a piano - hence the minor nature of the wound. There is much to like about his playing. There is a good balance between rhythmic bounce and legato. His attention to the polyphony cannot be gainsaid. Aimard develops quite a head of steam in Contrapuntus 8 a 3 - but it is the one instance where the listener sits up in his chair. Truth to tell, Aimard is hardly a threat to anyone. One never senses that one is in the presence of a master or that one is being taken on a journey from Contapunctus One to the colossal Fuga a 3 Soggetti which closes the work. One listens on admiringly but never in rapture. Moreover, there is a monochromaticism to the fugues and that can be partially attributed to Aimard's refusal to conjure up anything more from the piano than a circumscribed timbre; perhaps that arises from a fear of being indicted with romanticism. The recording is superb. If the would-be assassin had used the Sokolov, well, good Father Melchizedek might well be in a casket!"
"Organise some flowers for Father Melchizedek," Hogwood-Blofeld growled. "Make them petunias. We might have a chance to reuse them later in the week . . . . . ."