We ‘virtually’ meet again! Van Gogh provides this week’s quotation, “In the end we shall have had enough of cynicism and skepticism and humbug and we shall want to live more musically”. Poignant don’t you think particularly as birdsong is featuring in the stillness. I have discovered a fabulous song by Clement Janequin, “Le chant des oyseaux‘ sung here by Les Chants de Garonne – The lyrics suggest that it should be sung on the ‘First day of May’.
A little folk song would not go amis – Nana Mouskouri offers us a very pretty version of that wonderful old English folk song, In an English Country Garden.
This delightful song from Michael Flanders and Donald Swann – ‘Missalliance’- The habits of the climbing bindweed and the honeysuckle and what happens when they fall in love! These ‘oldies’ are pure magic at a time of relative stillness and reflection. A quick listen to these will surely make you grab your hoes and trowels and head outside!
As I write, we all would have been preparing for tonight’s concert with the Aquinas Piano Trio with violist Rebecca Lowe. For newcomers to Churchill Music, the Aquinas Piano trio are one of our top ensembles and many will recognise their leader Ruth Rogers who performed our early December concert with Viv Mclean. Luckily they recorded the magnificent Brahms Piano Trio No 1 in B major at the Wigmore Hall in 2018. I am listening to it now – unbelievably beautiful. Come to think of it, that opening ‘cello section reminds me of the opening bars of ‘Come into the Garden Maud’!!)
Whilst mentioning the Aquinas, as you know, you all voted to pay the Aquinas your entire ticket money due to the forced cancellation. Ruth, Martin and Kath are just over the moon at the very touching kindness and generosity of our Champions. Ruth recorded a lovely video to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to you all.
This week’s coffee concertissimo from Peter Hewitt is final movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata. It has an impactful and forceful musical message to impart – perfect to help us shed all that cynicism and humbug! Peter says that if Beethoven had one lesson to teach us then it was perhaps his determination to fight through difficult times in life.
One of my absolute favourite works is Schubert’s Fantasie in F Minor – four hands performed by Hans Peter and Volker Stenzl from Germany. Hans Peter and Volker performed this work for one of our Churchill Music concerts many moons ago – a truly unforgettable experience! It combines so many moods and colours which evoke a wonderful range of emotions.
Many people have been struck by the incredible acts of kindness that this pandemic has brought out in communities across the country. To celebrate this I think that we need something truly rousing by an English Composer – George Frederic Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah. It is said that Handel composed Messiah without getting much sleep or even eating much food. When his assistants brought him his meals, they were often left uneaten. When he completed “Hallelujah” he told his servant, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God Himself seated on His throne with His company of Angels”.
We bring you three versions – one from the Choir of Kings College Cambridge the next performed by a completely mad but highly talented Forté Handbell quartet which is amazing and has to be seen to be believed (click on the little square in the bottom right hand corner of the link to get the full screen picture). This final version of the Hallelujah chorus has been created by various families teaming up and brilliantly put together. Very jolly!
Calling all children and grandchildren! Try this new digital rendition of Saint Saëns Carnival of the Animals narrated by Joanna Lumley and accompanied by London Mozart Players.
Before finally signing off, I just cannot resist this hilarious clip of Victoria Wood with Julie Walters. Victoria is trying to practice the piano but of course the cleaner, Julie Walters knows it all.
Don’t forget that this week’s National Theatre Live is Twelfth Night. ROH are screening Mozart’s Cosi fan tutti from today until 10th May and of course the Berlin Philharmoniker also have their virtual doors open for the Locked down period.
Keep safe, happy, healthy and at home and keep in touch if you have any lovely ideas to send around or simply want a chat.
PS Can’t resist just one more… “What a pity flowers can utter not sound! A singing Rose, a whispering violet, a murmuring honeysuckle… Oh what a rare and exquisite miracle would these be!” Henry Ward Beecher .