Ice, ash and fury: A meditation on eruptions from Mt St Helens to the Temple of St Paul's Cathedral
Since I made The White North Has Thy Bones a year ago about our obsession with the Arctic and the North West Passage I've realised January has become a favourite time of the year. For this Something Understood the starting point is the violent eruptions of pre-spring: The exotic floral extravagance of winter flowering Magnolias and Camellias. Neil Rollinson recently told me that it was his delightful poem about Magnolias that was his own favourite in his latest collection, not the sexually explicit celebrations of masculinity which got more attention. You can hear it in the programme. Metallic cold resonates throughout in our music: The exquisite tremulous beauty of the much underappreciated clavichord; apparently JS Bach's favourite instrument. Carole Cevasi in a practice room at the Royal College of Music revealed to me its intimate and precious subtlety. Like the harpischord it's often thought of as cold for lacking the soft Romantic cushioning of a pianoforte pedal and echo. A