It was a very musical weekend all round, even if I had to head off from the freshly painted hideaway on Saturday for a concert in London. My screen related woes continued after last Wednesday, but at least I had the wonderful music of the Purcell Funeral Sentences to console me which always make me think of that morning in 1695, St. Cecilia’s Day if I recall correctly, when his colleagues gathered for a service to celebrate the patron saint of music only to hear that the greatest composer of the age had died in the night at only 35 years old.
Purcell’s handling of dissonance is so, so close to the wire yet it always stays just within the boundaries of what is acceptable and creates some astonishing harmonies while doing so. The Funeral Sentences contain some of his most eloquent music, written the year before his death for Queen Mary, at which point he surely would have had no inkling that the same piece would be performed at his own funeral a year later.
On Sunday morning it was yet another astonishing piece, a Mass by Monteverdi which he wrote as part of an application to Rome. I can only imagine what they thought of it, for surely it must have been light years away from what they wanted, a piece so astonishing in its bravura writing that it must have sent shivers down the spines of the conservative clerics who saw it.
In the evening I played the Choral in a by César Franck, his final work and a pretty decent one as well, while in the middle of all those services I found time to add notes to one of my own recent compositions. Then, on the way home, there arrived whispers of a possible performance of Sweet Was The Song next month, for which many thanks.
At this point I might as well cut and paste the following on a fortnightlyish basis – I then watched Ferrari contrive to give a disastrous showing in the Grand Prix – but ‘disastrous’ is nowhere near strong enough a term for yesterday’s calamity, not so much snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as embracing defeat and then inviting it to dinner at The Ivy while slamming the door in victory’s face and then having it roughed up by the bouncers. At the moment I feel like pootling over to Maranello myself and giving them a decent and lengthy shouting, and I find myself wishing that they were even a little bit as well behaved and trustworthy as the choirs I have the pleasure to work with.