'It started with Monsignor Sheen, those blue eyes. But of course I needed Faith. I had to know just where I'm going when I shuffle off this mortal thing, and the Catholic Church is so lovely, with that cosy grandeur that I adore. One feels so safe with the rituals and everything and those robes! Well, there just isn't anything to compare with them. They have really the most beautiful ceremonies in the world. I was in St Peter's once for Easter - I think it was Easter - anyway, the Holy Father came riding in on a golden throne wearing the triple tiara and the most beautiful white robes you've ever seen and the Cardinals all in red and the incense and the beautiful marble and golden statues... absolutely yummy!'That passage is from Gore Vidal's early novel The City and the Pillar which, despite the humorous quote above, is a sympathetic portrayal of the American homosexual subculture. Its publication in 1948 was received with what Vidal described as "shock and disbelief" and the New York Times delivered the double whammy of refusing to carry advertising and giving it a put down review. Despite this The City and the Pillar went on to be a bestseller in America and Europe and it was praised by Thomas Mann, André Gide and E. M. Forster. Below is the cover of my 1972 UK paperback edition with its Hockney illustration.
My absolutely yummy soundtrack is Johann Adolf Hasse's glorious late baroque setting of that great ritual of the Roman Rite, the Requiem Mass. Hasse (1699-1783) spent thirty years as Kapellmeister at the Catholic Dresden court and his Requiem in C dates from 1763. Impeccably performed by the Dresden Kammerchor and Barokorchester directed by Hans-Christoph Rademann this recently released CD is captured in refreshlingly lifelike sound in Evangelische St. Marienkirche in Marienberg. The disc is one in a Music from Dresden series on the enterprising independent Carus label, whose other notable releases include Rudolf Mauersberger's 1961 Dresden Requiem. It is tempting to point my end link at a High Mass in C minor with the choir boys nude, but decorum dictates it should be Intoxicating Heinichen from Dresden.
Also on Facebook and Twitter. Hasse's Requiem in C was bought in FNAC, Perpignan. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk