Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Alfred Rehearses the Tenor Solo
“Mother,” said I, “I have so enjoyed listening to some of our old recordings on the Victoria 7-in-One Stereo that you brought me for Christmas. Why just the other morning I was listening to that fine lyric Scottish tenor, Kenneth McKellar, singing “ Flow gently, sweet Afton.” “Did you know, Mother, that McKellar was one of the finest lyric tenors to sing the tenor parts of the Messiah?”
“How could I have missed that, Alfred, you’ve been listening to his recordings all week long.”
“It makes me glad to be a Scot, Mother! Background is so very important, and the Montrose name goes back to Clan Graham. Why the current chief of Clan Graham is the 8th Duke of Montrose.”
“I wondered why you have been wearing your clan tartan tie all week, Alfred,” said Mother. “I am quite proud of my own illustrious family history. As you know my grandfather Antonio Talliaferro was an important member of the clan of Don Calò Vizzini. Don Calò owned the Belici estate through his close association with the owner, the Duke Francesco Thomas de Barberin. Although of course grandfather never referred to it as a Clan, but rather as La Familia.”
“Listen to this, Mother,” said I as I put on another recording by Kenneth McKellar. The beautiful strains of McKellar’s voice wafted over us, “Where'er you walk Cool gales shall fan the glade.”
“Is that Handel, Alfred?”
“Good for you Mother. It certainly is, and listen to this,” said I, as I put on a second recording. “This is McKellar singing some of the tenor solo parts of the Messiah with the Royal Opera House Orchestra under Sir Adrian Boult. It’s absolutely marvelous; but I must admit the words leave me a little unsettled. Do you think it’s all true?”
Again the four walls of my study are filled with the glorious tenor voice of McKellar singing,
“He trusted in God that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him. . . . Thy rebuke hath broken His heart; He is full of heaviness. He looked for some to have pity on Him, but there was no man; neither found He any to comfort Him. Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow. He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of Thy people was He stricken.”
“How horrible, Alfred,” said Mother. “It can’t be true. Tell me it’s only a story.”
“Oh, Mother, how I wish it were only a myth. If it’s true, it will upset all of my life. Why everything I hold dear may turn out to be only folly.” With that I took off that McKellar recording, and put something cheerful on instead and McKellar bounced around the room singing, “The Waggle o’ the Kilt.”
“Well, Alfred, that won’t do. It too harsh a contrast with his Messiah tenor solos. You know you have to sing those very parts in our Easter Messiah.”
“I know, Mother, I know, but the words have really just left me unnerved.”
“Alfred! That is not at all like you. After all, they are only words.
“For good news came to us just as to them; but the message which they heard did not benefit them, because it did not meet with faith in the hearers.” (Hebrews 4:2).
All Mother and Alfred stories are written by Canon Rob. You may enjoy checking on YouTube for the music.