Friday, March 25, 2011

Hungry for Hungary, plus a suitable Friday Historical

I'm back from the mini-tour of Hungarian Dances. This week the three of us went to Old Swinford Hospital School in Stourbridge, which made us welcome with a winning combination of warm atmosphere, enthusiasm and, by no means least, school dinners complete with apple crumble and custard. Bradley and Margaret pulled out all the stops that can be found on violin and piano, the story seemed to go over well and the continuity gelled: the ideal for these concerts is that music and words should become a gesamtkunstwerk of sorts, a goal that is beginning to feel not just possible but natural. The sophisticated and substantial cutlet of the Debussy Violin Sonata is the perfect foil for the Gypsy numbers and balances the Ravel Tzigane in the second half. And Bradley's Gypsy-style playing really has to be seen to be believed, and I'm not just saying it because it was my book. The Northern Sinfonia is a lucky old orchestra to have him at the helm. 

The next day we all gave workshops for the kids and I managed to introduce my creative writing group to Keith Jarrett's The Koln Concert in the process. We have an exercise in which I suggest that music can provide a route into the stillness of mental space from which focused creativity can spring, but which is sorely lacking in modern life, especially if you're facing a heap of exams. I put on something suitably calming - here's where The Koln Concert works beautifully, but in the past I've also used Chopin (slow movement of B minor Sonata) - and treat it as a meditation, in which the music leads the pen. Some people respond more enthusiastically than others, of course, but it is just one example of an option that can be harnessed to help access that space in ourselves. And just occasionally, someone will produce something in the music exercise that is rather incredible... This group was no exception and I think KJ would have been pleased to think he'd sparked such interesting thoughts and reflections. 

Meanwhile the voice coaching sessions I had a few years ago have proved their worth. I love rediscovering that fabulous "afterglow" sensation where you're on a total high after giving a really good concert - and without having to play a note! HA! Still, Bradley and Margaret play enough notes for seven, never mind three... The whole thing has been fantastic, dreamlike and showered with spring sun and daffodils galore. THANKS, FOLKS!

And so it's home and back to the hamster-wheel. And it's Friday. So here is Jelly d'Aranyi playing a Hungarian piece we don't have in the concert: Hubay's Poemes hongroises, Op.26 No.6. This should put a spring in everyone's step.