I need to come back to Lutoslawski much more often, and not just to his music. The man had some seriously sensible stuff to say about composition, about how he thought about his audience and how to articulate form and content in a post-tonal age. Far less fashionable than his contemporaries, and writing almost exclusively in the abstract, his works are of seriously high quality, and I still find the 3rd and (especially) 4th Symphonies to be outstanding pieces. I always come away from reading about his life and his music with my energy topped up and my belief in myself slightly reinforced. I really need to return to him and my other favourite composers much more often – there is, after all, a reason that I have settled on their music.
As I drove into London this morning, the skies dark and the roads strangely full, I had a bad-news-good-news moment when a historical performance of a Bach keyboard concerto was announced. Oh dear, I thought, slow and ponderous, here we go…but then the magic name was mentioned – “Dinu Lipatti”. I refer the honourable reader to the answer I gave some years ago. Of course the performance was sparkling and thrilling, the only real historical leanings being the use of a piano rather than harpsichord (well, it was a Busoni arrangement) and perhaps a slight tendency to bring out accents a little more than might be considered necessary these days (well, again, it was a Busoni arrangement), but otherwise it was joyous stuff. And then, in the second movement, the sound of hacking coughing from – it can’t be, it must be – the audience. Heavens, this was all being recorded live! Sadly I missed the middle of the slow movement as I had to stop for petrol, the mundane interrupting the otherworldly, but oh what transport of delight from this wonderful pianist born a century ago.
Maybe as a result of listening to music that I find interesting I ended up writing a few decent bars of notes this week, bars with potential to be developed into something much larger rather than the usual going nowhere stuff. It is no surprise that this came around twenty minutes after listening to Lutoslawski’s 4th Symphony and reading an analysis of the work. More of this next week, I hope, although it looks as though I might have to fit it in around a return to my normal schedule of work, the calm of the early year drawing to a close.