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Sorrento

September 27, 2015

We’re going to do something a little different for this post. We give you a handful of pictures, and invite you – require you, even – to set this piece running as you look at them. This is Frank Ticheli’s Vesuvius. I’ve just discovered it, and I am hooked. It’s moody, atmospheric, melodic and original (and relevant). Memorable themes are supported by an instrumental arrangement which is simultaneously vibrant and subtle. Strongly reminiscent of Mendelssohn’s great gift for orchestration, but this is undeniably a 20th Century piece (only just, though: 1999).

Who is Frank Ticheli? I’m happy to say I don’t know. Perhaps I should be embarrassed not to know, but if I were embarrassed about all the things of which I am ignorant I would spend the rest of my days with the face the colour of the only tomato I managed to coax from a plant this year. So instead I take pleasure in the discovery of something new and wonderful – a whole new (to me) composer to explore. And at the risk of going off-topic, I can’t help but share this: Earth Song. Not the dreary Michael Jackson, but something altogether lovely. Come back to it when Vesuvius is over.

Sorrento: why now?

This is the first post that simonsometimessays has ever provided to a deadline. We’re up against it here, I can tell you.

Of course, my rather daft and romantic image of true art cries out against the erosion of the creative process by such a humdrum and unartistic factor as time. But when you consider that some of the greatest art of every kind has been produced to a deadline, the daftness of that image is truly revealed. I don’t actually need examples to know that Mozart and Shakespeare were both, regularly, writing some of their finest works right up to the day of performance.

Which makes me feel better. So what’s the hurry, then?

Well, you can blame or thank Anjali.

Anjali read the last post on these pages, the one in which I didn’t talk about Sorrento, and requested that I get round to actually talking about Sorrento before she goes there in the middle of October. So here, almost on commission and after a month’s reflection, is what I can remember.

So – less talk, more pictures

Sorrento, while full of beautiful spots...

Sorrento, while full of beautiful spots…

...is not wholly free from the trappings of tourism.

…is not wholly free from the trappings of tourism.

But catch the sky just as the sun is hanging under the clouds in the evening and you'll think you've seen heaven.

But catch the sky just as the sun is hanging under the clouds in the evening and you’ll think you’ve seen heaven.

Herculaneum, now several miles inland, was a seaside playground for the Romans...

Herculaneum, now several miles inland, was a seaside playground for the Romans…

was buried in the aftermath of Vesuvius's 79 AD eruption...

… buried in the aftermath of Vesuvius’s 79 AD eruption…

but astonishingly well preserved, even to the vivid colours on the walls.

but astonishingly well preserved, even to the vivid colours on the walls.

The Emperor Claudius, in the museum at Naples. Not very lifelike.

The Emperor Claudius, in the museum at Naples. Not very lifelike.

The public baths in Pompeii - in AD 79 there would have been more sweat and fewer clothes.

The men’s public baths in Pompeii – in AD 79 there would have been more sweat and fewer clothes.

The forum, with Vesuvius in the background. The benefits of hindsight, eh?

The forum, with Vesuvius in the background. The benefits of hindsight, eh?

The smaller theatre - plenty of bands would kill to play in a small venue like that.

The smaller theatre – plenty of bands would kill to play in a small venue like that.

I forget exactly - probably the atrium to a patrician household. Even in this state it's smarter than the sss abode.

I forget exactly what this is – probably the atrium to a patrician household. The swimming pool looks a little shallow, though.

Positano. It's just as beautiful when you get close in...

Positano. It’s just as beautiful when you get close in…

...and meet the locals.

…and meet the locals.

Capri. From the world's slowest chairlift and the world's most nervous photographer.

Capri. From the world’s slowest chairlift and the world’s most nervous photographer.

Vesuvius - inside the crater. As soon as we can transmit smells digitally, you'll get the full sulphurous effect.

Vesuvius – inside the crater. As soon as we can transmit smells digitally, you’ll get the full sulphurous effect.

From the top of Vesuvius: "...the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory"

From the top of Vesuvius: “…the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory”

And all the time, the sea off Sorrento itself...

And every day, the sea off Sorrento itself…

shiimmered and shone under the sun...

shimmered and shone under the sun…

...which slowly baked the English abroad.

…which slowly baked the English abroad.

Anjali – have a lovely time.

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