Knight of the Burning Pestle

The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe is fabulous – the woodwork dotingly authentic, the ceiling work convincingly Renaissance.  The play is an appropriate Jacobean comedy, with Jacobean costumes and a nice eye for period detail.

WHY was the music so anachronistic, then?  There were a couple of echt Jacobean tunes (Jolly red nose, for example), but it was largely disgusting 20th-century saccharine – so much so that I was really put off the entertainment.  It came from the backside of Nigel Hess, a TV composer of some merit, who really ought to have known better.  The band was largely authentic, with a cornet, viols, gitarres – but not entirely:  there was a modern violin. ?????

Emma Kirkby once pointed out, sadly, that TV and radio shows always used music of a later period than the one the programme was about.  Whilst the Globe lot are super-careful about visual details, they don’t seem to care about the accuracy of musical accompaniment.

Why does music, of all the arts, have to suffer like this?  Music was our first art; it is our premier art.  Let’s all strive to be a little more musically literate.


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