Churchill Music

Promoting musical excellence in Somerset since 2007

Music for Lockdown 12

Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.” – Steve Maraboli b 1975 American radio commentator, and author.  

Manuel De Falla’s Manuel De Falla’s Spanish Dance No 1 performed on the violin by David Oistrakh is sure to put a whole new light on those early chores that cannot be missed.  The dance is part of a one-hour opera, La Vida Breve, (A short life) written in 1904/5. The ‘dance’ was arranged for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler in 1926.  The opera, a love-story with a twist, centres around a young gypsy girl, Salud, who is passionately in love with a young well-to-do man named Paco. She does not know, and Paco does not tell her, that he is already engaged to a woman of his social class, Carmela.  Salud’s uncle, Sarvaor (Salvador), and her grandmother (La abuela) have discovered this heinous deception, and they try to prevent Salud from interrupting Paco’s wedding after she learns the truth.  The dance is performed as part of the betrothal celebration for Paco and Carmela. Salud and Sarvaor gate-crash the festivities, astonishing the bride and the guests and momentarily throwing the mendacious groom so much off his guard that he utters Salud’s name before denying he knows her and ordering her ejection. Her heart broken, Salud falls dead at his feet, in what is said to be the ultimate gesture of contempt for a former lover. Hey Ho!!
Continuing our dance theme, guitarist, John Williams recently recorded a short ‘favourite’ of his, by Enrique Grenados – from his Valses Poéticos as part of St. George’s Bristol’s new ‘Listen In’ series more anon…  In a note in the manuscript of Grenados’ Apariciones-Valses romanticos,  Granados indicated that he considered Apariciones to be a preliminary study for Valses poeticos and consequently made copious revisions.  Among themhe selected seven waltzes, revised them and published them as part of Valses poeticos thought to be circa 1893-94.  Many of you will remember the phenomenal concert that Churchill Music hosted ‘3 guitarists, 6 hands’ with John Williams, John Etheridge and Gary Ryan.  We look forward to inviting them back.
It’s time for that double click – kettle and link to Peter Hewitt’s coffee concertissimo.  This week Peter is featuring Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op 14 no. 2 in G.  First movement which Peter says is full of the sort of beautiful, easy-going charm that Beethoven was able to so happily conjure up when he wanted to.  I thoroughly enjoy Peter’s intros to the work that he is about to perform – he just gives that extra insight – something that we may not have thought, of which makes the work so much more exciting and refreshing.  

In previous email we have highlighted conductors and conducting. Solomon’s Knot have uploaded a great mini ‘chat’ series with their singers. Particularly interesting is Alex Ashworth’s talk about life with Solomon’s Knot and the relationship between musicians and audience and working without a conductor.  Well worth a the 4.44-minute click! 

How about a lunchtime concert in your own home from St. George’s Bristol – a further part of their ‘Listen In’ series. I cannot resist bringing you this particular one which features pianist, Daniel Tong (came to Churchill Music in 2018 with his London Bridge Ensemble) who has recorded Brahms’ F minor Sonata. He speaks about it first in a relaxing style which I always feel just adds to the enjoyment.
This is followed by wonderful Exultate Singers conducted by David Ogden. Exultate perform two contrasting works from their Sense of the Divine concerts – the recording is excellent. First, they perform ‘A water of Time‘ – a folk song from the North East of England.  Look closely – you just might spot a CM trustee in the Sopranos! The second work is deep and spiritual, ‘Mother of God, here I stand’ by John Tavener – absolutely beautiful – you might want to play this part again with your sundowner. Then pianist, William Howard performing Howard Skempton’s Nocturnes No 1, 2 and 3 which are reflective and calm. Born in 1947, Howard Skempton’s works are characterised by many aspects but particularly his strong sense of melody. There is a wonderful surprise at the end which I won’t spoil for you!

The London Mozart Players are the first chamber orchestras to perform together, live, (in conjunction with Classic FM), since the C-word lockdown! They have a series of three fabulous concerts coming up starting on Monday 15th June 7pm. It will come from Westfield Shopping Centre, Shepherd’s Bush – celebrating the first day of trading.  To coincide with the re-opening of churches to congregations on Saturday 4th July, Ruth Rogers will direct the LMP from St. Giles Cripplegate. Their programme will include soloist, Tasmin Little performing Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending. Greig’s Holberg Suite and Copeland’s Hoedown. What a programme! For more information click the link above and scroll down.

Now for a bit of fun – not something that I confess I would normally associate with Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975)! This excerpt from his first opera, the Nose, is performed by Royal Opera.  It  is hilarious – I am still giggling.  Shostakovich wrote the Nose when he was 21.  Based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, a ‘upwardly mobile’ civil servant, Platon Kuzmitch Kovalev, wakes up one morning without his nose. It had been accidentally sliced off by a drunken barber. It grows in size to human proportions.  Kovlev’s search for his missing nose takes him to the Chief of Police, the office of his local newspaper and the train station where the nose tried to make a last ditch attempt to escape.  Turn up the volume and marvel at this very clever, realistic interpretation of the a nose with all its beauty and disgusting sounds so innocently portrayed!

Before I stop, the Clog Dance from La Fille Mal Gardée was featured in CM News No 8.  As luck would have it, the full version was released yesterday by the Royal Ballet as part of their series ‘From our house to yours’.   If you want the synopsis which I gave in CM8 and have deleted it,  then just let me know and I will send the excerpt to you.  
And finally, a bit of fun with these four amazing dancers.  Edwin Denby (1903-1983) once said, “There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good”.  There is certainly insanity in this video