Churchill Music

Promoting musical excellence in Somerset since 2007

Music for Lockdown 8

This week’s quotation is from Robert Browning, He who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once”.  We are hearing ‘music’ in every sense of the word from the fabulous deeds and thoughts that have prevailed during the lockdown, through to the wonderful talks, interviews and concerts on Youtube now that we have time to listen to them.  

To set the pace for the day I suggest the Clog Dance from Act 1 of La fille mal gardée! This famous comic ballet was originally the creation of Jean Dauberval who was allegedly inspired by Pierre-Antoine Baudouin’s 1789 painting Le reprimande/Une jeune fille querellé par sa mere.  The original music was based on fifty-five popular French airs (ballets in those days were often patchworks of popular ‘airs’) and was first performed later that year.  It was somehow kept alive over the years but was brought to fame in 1959 by choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton who began creating a completely new version for the Royal Ballet which was premiered in 1960 basing the music on the 1828 score by Ferdinand Hérald. The story is the usual thing – two lovers (Lise and Colos) but widowed mother, Simone has arranged for Lise to marry the wealthy Alain – a dull and boring “dimwit”. The scene for the Clog Dance, is harvest time, Simone and Lise are taken to the field for a picnic by Alain and his father. The farm workers join in a ribbon dance around a maypole, and the girls also join in a clog dance with the Widow Simone. At the end, there is a thunderstorm and everyone rushes for shelter. Alain is carried away on the wind by his open umbrella -(as it turned out, was actually his true love!) bonkers! 

This week’s coffee concertissimo by Peter Hewitt is again, well worth a click!  This week he has recorded the Beethoven Piano Sonata Op 10. No 3,  opening movement ‘Presto’.   When Peter originally recorded the work on the Litmus label it received a 5 star review. His little chat at the beginning makes it all the more interesting put the kettle on and ‘click’!  

Grammy-winner Clarinettist, Michael Collins, MBE, is a phenomenal musician who was the very first winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1978 and went on to lead a stellar career.  We had/are still planning a visit to Churchill Music in our next season by Michael with a Quartet from the London Mozart Players (LMP) including our favourite violinist, Ruth Rogers.  Here’s a fascinating interview between Michael and Ruth which, when he comes to us, will give us all a ‘head start’ into this humble and quite simply great musician.  

We are promised some lovely hot weather, so how about a relaxing sundowner with Michael performing Brahms’ truly beautiful Clarinet Sonata No. 1 accompanied by Mikhail Pletnev, in the background.  

For something perhaps a little more familiar for your sundowner try one of my all time favourites, Mozart’s Laudate Dominum sung by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Colin Davies.  It is just so beautiful.

Now for a bit of fun – Concert Roulette.  This is playful initiative from Alternative Classical.  The idea is to share some of the best music currently available online.  Sent to me by Solomon’s Knot, (SK) an incredible ensemble formed in 2008 and led by Jonathan Sells.  SK performs without a conductor and all their songs are by heart.  They promised to never lose the joy of performing and to blow the dust off early music and to break down the barriers of classical music. They have established a phenomenal reputation performing all over the world.  SK’s 2018 performance of Bach’s motet Jesu, meine Freude and the cheerful tunes of Jauchzet, frohlocket from the Christmas Oratorio are both just a ‘click’ away on Concert Routlette.   Just click to watch a random concert  or you can narrow down the possibilities to what genre you like (Baroque for Solomon’s Knot) – great fun! 

It’s time for a wee joke – thanks to the amazing John Pockett who is keeping us supplied!  Did you hear about the orchestral concert that was held in Bermuda? It was all going fine until the musician playing the triangle suddenly disappeared”

And Finally:  I cannot think of the Grieg Piano Concerto without that hilarious Morecombe and Wise version with Andre Previn – all those right notes, just in the wrong order!  Old but gold, but it raises my spirits every time.

There is so much more that I am longing to share with you, but I hope that you feel that your solitude is now ‘peopled’!

With very best wishes to you all to keep happy, healthy and ‘Alert’!!