Churchill Music

Promoting musical excellence in Somerset since 2007

Music for Lockdown 7

The sun is shining.  It’s VE day.  As I put our flags out, I wondered if anyone could have dreamed that the next war would see the world fighting a common enemy that is so minute that we cannot even see it?  

Franz Liszt gives us this week’s quotation:  “To us musicians, the work of Beethoven parallels the pillars of smoke and fire which led the Israelites through the desert”.  With Churchill’s rousing speeches today and Franz Liszt’s analogy 200+ years ago who better to lead us out of this metaphorical ‘desert’ than Beethoven in the 250th anniversary year.  
Beethoven had a stormy personality and battled (like so many) against personal difficulties and political aspirations for humankind. He was driven forward by his belief that “music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy”. So true.

Beethoven’s rousing ‘Wellington’s Victory’, AKA ‘The Battle Symphony Op 91’ performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajanis bound to raise your spirits to keep going in the face of our common enemy.  So many of our well-loved and stirring songs run through it adding to the interest. 

Peter Hewitt’s Beethoven ‘Coffee ‘concertissimo’ next, so put the kettle on and be ready to ‘click’.  Peter focusses on a fabulous Beethoven Piano Sonata Op 27 No. 1 1st movement.  His introduction makes it all the more enjoyable.

Need something to get you going?  Churchill Music has the answer – or rather Litolff – The Scherzo from Symphonique No 4.  It has been described as a ‘bracing, devilish affair for the piano and a particularly nimble orchestra’. The devilishness gets my vote!! Henry Litolff (1818-1891) was a prolific English composer.  He led a colourful life with various wives and a time in Prison in London from where he managed to escape (plus ça change!) and fled to the Netherlands – an escape assisted by the jailer’s daughter no less!…… which might explain why so little of his music has been performed over the years.  This version by the amazing Moura Lympany accompanied by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is an absolute MUST.

For those who enjoy early music, Robert Hollingworth, director of I’fagolini discusses ‘French Chanson’ as part of his ‘Sing the Score’ series.  It is absolutely fascinating and the dance at the end is hilarious!  Not being a fan previously, I think I am being converted!

We have had some spectacular sunsets recently – a wonderful time for reflection (preferably with cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc) and Spiegel im Spiegel for Cello and Piano written in 1978 by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt   Spiegel im Spiegel in German means ‘Mirror in the mirror’.  It comes with a health warning – it has a powerful emotional impact. 

And now for something completely different.  Our Churchill Music patron, Peter Donohoe whom many of you will remember his incredible performances of all the Mozart Piano Sonatas this time last year – all from memory over 4 concerts (2 a day) has an incredible trick up his sleeve for you this week.  The scene is set at the final concert of the Manchester Summer School which also takes on a bit of a ‘Cabaret flavour’.  The quality of the sound when Peter first speaks isn’t great as it is the only recording made by a member of the audience on a mobile phone!  Still definitely worth watching! Peter was asked a question at the beginning of the week’s course about, “The desperate difficulty of playing Chopin’s finger-work – the evenness and delicacy of touch”  Needless to say, Peter has the answer and shares it with us!!  Peter is wearing a Kimono which adds to the hilarity. There is hope for us all yet – you will see what I mean!!

This week’s amusing trip down ‘Memory Lane’ comes from Morecambe and Wise with Andre Previn (Mr Preview!) It never fails to make me laugh.  

As we face the next week of lockdown, it really is a wonderful world and who better to remind us through music, none other than Louis Armstrong singing What a wonderful world.Very best to you all to keep happy, healthy and at home,
Jan