Bach, Double Concerto, Elgar, Finzi, Flyht, Parliament Choir, Suite for two clarinets, Viola Concerto, Walton
The saga of the garden reaches its close, my new shed having arrived yesterday morning. Unfortunately the roof of said shed is too large to go through the house, which has necessitated a little logistical jiggling, but I am hoping for a compliant neighbour who will help me to heave it over his fence on a day devoid of strong wind.
Otherwise the outside of the house is beginning to look wonderful, and even the cats appear to have taken it on board that the route from front to back needs to be travelled via the paving stones, which is quite amusing to watch. Today, sadly, it is too overcast to sit out there, but that garden is going to be worth its weight in gold once the summer arrives. As I sat in somebody’s very nice car indeed on Sunday I mused that I must now be middle aged, for my Ferrari-owning dreams have melted away into a little vision of trim-bordered horticultural domesticity. Who would have thought it?
Pressed into my sweaty palms yesterday evening was the CD of the Suite For Two Clarinets, soon to be available at an online store near you, hot off the press that very afternoon. With the CD of Flyht due to come out next month, this is a good little patch for my music, and various members of the Parliament Choir seemed keen enough to buy copies yesterday evening, to some of which I was asked to add my scribble.
I need to get back to some serious writing over the next couple of days, having finished my lecture notes for the 13/14 season and cleared most other pressing matters out of the way. The piece currently on the sketching board is a proposed Viola Concerto, for viola (obviously), strings and timpani, and the basic skeleton of the work is coming together very nicely indeed. However, almost everybody I have mentioned this piece to has asked me why I have chosen the viola, but it is an instrument for which I always enjoy writing, likewise the cello. Violins just do not quite do it for me, and I would almost always rather have the mellower tone of one of the lower members of the string family, what violins want to be when they grow up.
Violin concerti also often seem to me to be so showy, as if the technique is all that matters, and all that high-register stuff just puts me right off. Clearly, Bach is exempt from this, and I might just pick his Double Concerto as my all time favourite concerto of all time (off the top of my head), but, apart from that, I’d probably almost invariably go for (say) cello concertos by Finzi or Elgar, or the Viola Concerto by Walton.
Apart from the Walton, though, what other viola concerti are out there? Apart from being the butt of all those jokes (drive-by viola recitals and all that), what is there for viola players to aspire to? Well, this, to me, is the classic combination of there not only being a gap in the market but also, crucially, a market in the gap. I am not so deluded as to think that this nascent piece will become a cornerstone of the repertoire, but I do think that it might get played. What is more, this is not a commission – not yet, at least – but rather something I am writing because I want to, although any potential sponsor would be welcomed with open arms.
So on we go, and the larger than normal canvas of this piece will also allow me to experiment with a more ambitious form, the better to prepare for what might be a very large piece in 2015. I also have sketches for another concerto lying in one of my drawers, also for a neglected instrument, but that is for another post…