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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Home music making - a lost art? Not here!

Helen Lunt has just left, after spending an hour or more playing her cello and singing, as I played the piano.

Making live music is about 750 times better than sitting down and listening to the radio or a CD, no matter what the difference in performance quality. One is immediate and personal. The other has gone through so many processes, and may well owe its final polish to clever editing. It's like a photograph of the real thing.

Anyway, we played what we thought was going to be by one less-known composer, but it turned out to be a concerto by Handel. It really was superb music. We were both sight-reading, so not doubt it wasn't perfect, but we got immense pleasure from it.

Oh yes, and we played the Mendelssohn Song Without Words, the only one he ever wrote for cello, that Steven Isserlis played as an encore at that wonderful recital of his. Really a very lovely piece.

Then Helen kindly played one of my pieces for the camera. It is called 'To Chloe', and has a little story to it.

At a Latin teachers' Summer School in Chester several years ago one of the teachers had brought her bassoon, to join in the entertainment on the last evening. So I thought it would be nice to write her a tiny piece specially for the occasion. We had been rehearsing other pieces together, and had got quite friendly. (She is now a priest.) Came the evening of our Roman Dinner, with a professional expert in Roman cuisine doing the honours, watched with interest and helped by the regular college cooks. All the teachers came draped in sheets (they knew enough about Roman dress not to call them togas!) and during and after the dinner there was entertainment in the form of Latin poetry. Another friend and I performed an Ode by Horace where each verse is spoken alternately by the man and the woman, as a lovers' quarrel and reconciliation is worked out. The man claims that 'Thracian Chloe now rules my heart', at which point I moved over to my bassoonist friend. So when I wrote this little piece, I called it 'To Chloe.'

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