Classical Review

A record-review programme. Four people, Julio (Rory Ewins), George (James Bachman), Pierre (Steve Field), and Vitaly (James Pooley), are seated onstage.
Julio(Mock-Spanish accent) And that, I think, is the reason for the intrinsic... the intrinsic qualities of this new recording of Mahler's Third. I think you'll find that, uhh-er, that most people will agree with me on this, uhh-er, point (he points at one of other guests).
George(Pukka accent) Well I'm sorry to butt in here, but I was wondering if I could just, ahhh, butt in.
GeorgeSo I should hope. Now, Mahler's Third Symphony, as I see it, is essentially a statement about, ahhh, sound. Big, throbbing sounds, and little, tinkly sounds, all mixed up together, and played non-stop for seventy-five minutes. If I could just, ahhh, illustrate here with an excerpt...
There is a one-second blast of loud orchestral music. After it's over the guests all sit and ponder it, nodding.
GeorgeAnd of course, all one can say about that is, ahhh, gflerp neep gbrup (he trails off into gibberish).
JulioNo, I totally disagree—you don't know what you're saying!
Pierre(Mock-French accent) Whose recording was zat, by ze, uhhh, way?
GeorgeMine. I taped it off Radio Two this morning.
Vitaly(Mock-East European accent) Vell, I'm afraid I'm having to contradict ze validity of your statements to a certain—eeeeeeeeeextent. You see, Mahler is being for me all about, all about, about... eeeeeeeee.... no, still not coming...
VitalyMusic, exactly. He iss all about music, he's all about, eeeeeeeee, texture, ze full, ripe sound, a certain, eeeeeeeeexpansive quality. I think zis is best illustrated by ze following excerpt.
One-second orchestral blast. After this all the guests start laughing.
JulioWell, uhh-er, we have a slight technical hitch I think...
PierreYes, of course; that was, uhhh, not Mahler at all, but rather a light, chocolate-moussish piece by Saint-Saens.
VitalyDo we, eeeeeeee, do we know ze label on zat one?
GeorgeYes, it's on Albatross, that's the Albanian government label; and a rather hard one to find that, retailing at, ahhh, 500 zlotys.
JulioSo what you're saying is—uhh-er... uhhhh-er... what you're saying is... uhh-er... Bugger, I've forgotten.
GeorgeSilly foreign person.
PierreWhat our, uhhh, colleague is saying is zat for the best quality, uhhh, recordings, one should turn to ze established orchestras. Take zis piece by ze MC Funkmaster Penguin, recorded by ze Berlin Philharmonic.
One-second orchestral blast.
GeorgeA particularly unified sound coming from the Berlin Philharmonic, don't you, ahhh, think? Vitaly—I'm sure you'd agree.
VitalyVell, eeeeeeee, I don't want you to go putting ze words in my... in my...
VitalyMouth, I am perfectly capable of eeeeeeeenunciating my own, my own...
Vitaly(Nodding) "Eeeeeee", yes, eeeeeee statements on ze quality of a particular sound. My own personal favourite would have to be, eeeeeeee, ze C + C Music Factory's recent smash hit, "Things That Make You Go Eeeeeeee".
JulioWell, if I may—uhhHA-uhhHa-uhhHa-uhhHa—make a very silly noise here for a moment, and "sum up" today's programme as it wahhhrrrre—final scores gentlemen?
PierreMahler, uhhh, two.
GeorgeArsenal, nil?
VitalyAnd... eeeeeee...
One-second blast.
One-second blast. (They get a rhythm going.)
George(Bringing out a pair of underpants) Well, until next week: pants.
Cut lights.


First performed by Three Men and a Penguin at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge, April-May 1992.
This page: 12 February 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1992, 2000 Rory Ewins