25 November 2015

Castrated Turkey

There is a large grand piano bearing the legend “FEURICH” in the downstairs section of the CIP lounge in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.  You might assume it gets an airing in the evenings with some light jazz and, maybe, the odd tinkle in late afternoon with some innocuous “light classics”.  Not a bit of it. It plays morning, noon and night (or at least when I have been there between 5 and 8am, 11am and 2pm, and 11pm and 1am).  I don’t play it, nor does any living soul.  It is attached to an automatic player device which seems to have an uninterrupted diet of Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt.

It is horrific.

The performances seem to have been prepared by a youngster with a couple of years’ tuition under the belt and a sort of pass at Grade 1, so appalling are they.  But it gets even worse.

In order not to disturb the model Formula 1 racetrack, the banks of TV screens showing different soccer matches simultaneously and the war-like computer games nearby, all of which exude an inordinate amount of noise, it is adjusted so that the sound that emanates from this large instrument has been completely castrated.  It seems to do this by moving the action so close to the keys that it prevents any dynamic above a molto pianissimo and causes a great many notes in passages originally marked piano or less, not to sound.  The effect is a bit like those heavily pixelated images of the Mona Lisa; you can tell what it is supposed to be, but the result is so horribly disfigured that it would be better had it never been born.

If the music was something harmless like Andrew Lloyd Webber or ABBA’s greatest hits, it might be bearable, if it was the already wholly-castrated limpness of Richard Clayderman it might even be an improvement.  But Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt?

It has just played me isolated notes from the Pathétique Sonata.  Most of the slow movement was missing, and as, for some reason, middle C has broken, the rest of it sounds simply ghastly.  I have heard better performances in a diploma exam in Hong Kong (which you can’t often say), and even Beethoven in all his deafness could never have imagined his music sounding so utterly hideous.  What kind of tone-deaf lunatic has not only allowed this revolting thing into the so-called “exclusive” area of an airport is one thing, what criminally insane imbecile allows it to carry on with its appalling musical defacements day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year defies imagination.

There's a similar thing as you undertake the long and gloomy walk through Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2, passing all the notices telling refugees and asylum seekers to turn back and battling with the non-functioning automatic doors and chewing gum encrusted travellators.  At least this one creates the kind of atmosphere the Heathrow authorities want to induce; one of unwelcoming resentment to anyone who has the gall to attempt to visit the UK.  And as you are pushed past it by the press of third world immigrants (most of them, inexplicably, clutching UK passports) you never get the chance to know whether this one has been as savagely castrated as its Turkish counterpart.  But I suspect it has.

I’m all for live music, and even though most of them are unspeakably bad, those pianists called into dribble over the keys in “mood” music in public places usually are able to press the notes down (even if they don’t always get the right ones).  But my most earnest wish after subjected to another 2 hours of this ghastly excrescence is that, far from shooting down Russian warplanes, the Turks looked closer to home and destroyed the most offensive and obnoxious thing they possess; the player-piano in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

1 comment:

  1. So Turkey is using Weapons of Musical Destruction !