After my comments last time out I have been reminded this week that there are still plenty of pieces around written with what one would have to call craft, often, of course, by deeply unfashionable composers. I have written before about my admiration for Stanford, and I’ll do it again. His Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in A is top notch writing, beautifully put together and with a deeply felt and rock solid technique underpinning what, on the surface, passes by so easily. Place this next to a piece such as Parry’s There Is An Old Belief and you have two pieces which get better and better on each hearing, unlike some other music I have had to deal with this week. Note to self – must explore Stanford chamber and orchestral works.
On Friday afternoon I got the call to play for a set of auditions, and had a whale of a time zipping from candidate to candidate, sight-reading a bit of Berg here, a batch of Bach there and some Schumann and Vivaldi for good measure. I love being thrown in at the deep end, and think that I perform better that way, something I noticed during the week when my head simply was never in the right place for a piece I thought “easy” (and thus played badly). One of my former organ students was among the auditioners on Friday, and it is clear that he has done more work in his current field than he ever did at the console, but, fair to say, the boy will go far.
Saturday evening I was playing for the ever-ambitious Anton Bruckner Choir, tripping the fingers over music by Howells and Finzi (tick the craft box once again for these two), and then listening to the wonderful lush sound they produced in the unaccompanied items.
I sent off choral and piano pieces this week, also the Latin vocal score of the Lobgesang, all done while various burly chaps have hauled bag after bag of soil through my house and dropped it in the garden. These builders (typing now with fingers crossed) are hyper-reliable and self-sufficient, and have, against all expectations and previous experiences, allowed me to get quietly on with my work from dawn to dusk, fuelling themselves, it seems, on nothing more than tea and biscuits (chocolate covered, if possible). From the horrific post-Armageddon monstrosity my garden was only two weeks ago, it now looks pretty much set to accept turf and plants by the end of the week. Frankly, I cannot wait.
So it is on with new projects for now. There are some admin-type things to tidy up this week, also some new commissions to chase, and work begins to pick up just a little as we head into March. It feels still as if I am ahead of things, purely temporarily, I am sure, so here’s to the week ahead, and, hopefully, a garden worth sitting in by the end of it.