John Crosher's Desert Island Discs
John Crosher, one of the basses shares his desert island disc choice.
I joined RCS as a bass in 1998 when David Boarder was choir master. I served on the committee for a few years, handling publicity and the presentation and printing of concert programmes. After taking a break of several years I rejoined in 2016 to sing Messiah, and was so impressed with Andrew that I have stayed ever since.
Che Faro? – Orfeo ed Euridice: Christoph Gluck. As a young child just after WW2 I lived at Pagham, Sussex, and later my mother told me she had known Kathleen Ferrier who had a war retreat at Nyetimber, not far away. When in my teens I first heard this recording on the radio, I just fell in love with her wonderful sonorous contralto tones. I now have most of her recordings and play them frequently.
Never mind the Why or Wherefore – HMS Pinafore: Gilbert & Sullivan. At an all-boys secondary school in Nairobi we staged a full performance each year, two of which were ‘Trial by Jury’ and ‘HMS Pinafore’. While still a treble I played a bridesmaid(!!) in the former and later the Captain in the latter. So the songs from these two recall many joyful memories.
Meditation from Thais: Jules Massenet. I frequently listen to Classic FM, and this exquisitely beautiful piece is often played. I usually vote for it in their Hall of Fame top 300 most popular pieces, broadcast each Easter, and it’s always in the top 10.
Magnificent Mog – Acker Bilk. I am fond of traditional jazz and this is a splendid example of easy listening, and to which one could also dance. The title also appeals as the tune is ‘borrowed’ from the aria ‘Esurientes implevit bonis’ in the ‘Magnificat’ by J S Bach.
Romance from the film The Gadfly – Dmitri Shostakovich. This is really high on my list of favourites and is another gorgeous violin piece, but also cleverly tinged with sorrow. That is not surprising as the plot, set in Italy in the 1840s, is of the romantic encounter and activities of a superb spy, but who was eventually betrayed and executed.
Bassoon Concerto in F major – Carl Maria von Weber. Although my most beautiful pieces are played on the violin, I find the bassoon is also a gorgeous instrument to listen to. This concerto is a fine example of what the instrument can do – it doesn’t come in right at the start, so have patience.
Happy Kenya Boy - Roger Whittaker. Having spent nearly all my school days, from 6 to 19, in Kenya, of course I have a soft spot for this magnificent country and its copious spaces teaming with wildlife. In his many songs Roger characterises both his and my times and the life there with aplomb. He is also a superb whistler, as this track demonstrates.
Trumpet concerto in E flat – Johann Hummel. I couldn’t possibly leave out Alison Balsom, our Royston maestro, with her phenomenal talent on the trumpet. I get goose pimples whenever I hear her playing some of the most difficult works with such apparent consummate ease. She is a real star, and I have many of her recordings and play them frequently. This one in particular is a demonstration of her formidable accomplishments.