I spent last night in the company of the Soul of Music. Splendidly naked, he was gazing up in rapture at the Genius of Fire, that ball of eternal flame, whose gilded rays reached over the aquamarine sky to a humble huddle of mortals below. Lo, struggling beneath the thorny thicket of materialism that sunders mankind from the idealised sphere of perfected musical spirituality, I found the mild musician, inspired by rose-bearing Love, and to his right the toiling composer, accompanied by his soulful muse Psyche. A little too much Bombay Sapphire, Blonde? Did you once again fall asleep in the opium den over your volume of William Blake?
Sadly, no. I was in Wigmore Hall, staring at the arts and crafts cupola above the stage that was designed by Gerald Moira and painted by Frank Lynn Jenkins. One can only assume that, when they sought to depict 'the striving of humanity after the elusiveness of music in its great abstraction', they did not imagine the supremacy, 100 years later, of the Sugababes.
Last night it was Simone Dinnerstein, the much-hyped Brooklyn pianist, who was striving over her Goldberg Variations, newly released on CD. It was a peformance of rich quality, technical precision and a kind of diligent, workmanlike beauty, but it had too little elusiveness and abstraction, too little playfulness, too little surprise. She could have done with injecting a dash of the cupola's mad spirit around the edges of Bach's dense, novelistic sequence - it was all very good, but only rarely great.
I'll pass on the number of the Soul of Music, if I can get him to leave Britney alone.