It was over a third of a century ago. I was preparing to go to work at Urban Decision Systems and listening to a classical music station on the radio, probably KUSC-FM. Suddenly, a piece of music came on called “Variations on a Theme on Stabat Mater by Rossini” by the Neapolitan composer Saverio Mercadante.
I have been looking for that piece of music at record stores (when there used to be such things), eBay, even iTunes—without a shred of luck. Then today I just happened to Google “Mercadante Rossini Stabat Mater” and got two hits on YouTube. Needless to say, I played both clips. One was an Italian recording entitled Sinfonia Sopri i Motivi dello Stabat Mater de Rossini, and the other was a recording conducted by Claudio Scimone with the L’Orchèstre National de l’Opéra de Monte Carlo and entitled Sinfonia sur des thèmes du Stabat Mater du célèbre Rossini (1843).
The musical phrase I loved came in at around the 7:50-minute mark on both recordings and lasted for a little over a minute.
It was nice, but it didn’t impress me as much as it did back in the 1970s or 1980s. Perhaps what I heard on the radio was a better recording. I just don’t know. Or perhaps my taste in music has changed. I am no longer like Swann and Odette de Crécy at the Verdurins oohing and aahing over that little phrase of Vinteuil’s.
What amazed me is that so many things that were impossible to find just twenty years ago can now be Googled and brought up in mere seconds. Technology is wonderful. Sometimes.