Handwashers’ Newsletter 31st May 2020
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For now, thank you yet again, Carleton for:
A break from Gloucestershire this week and music from the great Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Brandenburg Concertos are a collection of six instrumental works which were written out in full by the composer (he didn’t trust copyists!) and presented to Christian Ludwig, Margrave (marquess) of Brandenburg-Schwedt.
Here is a recording of the 5th concerto in D major, scored for harpsichord, flute and strings. There is a virtuoso part for the harpsichord, an instrument that is normally just used in a continuo capacity. It is possible that Bach originally wrote it for a competition in Dresden with the French composer, Louis Marchand. (In the central movement one of Marchand’s themes is used.)
However, Marchand apparently fled before the competition took place, scared off by Bach’s enviable reputation! This work is said to be the first example of a concerto with a solo keyboard part: https://youtu.be/_V7oujd9djk
THE GILKES MEMORIES Thanks Vic for this:
I sang many years ago with a madrigal choir in Wokingham, Berkshire. We were invited to sing a concert of Messiah excerpts in the 7th day Adventist Church Headquarters in Wokingham. We were advised that after the performance the audience would not clap in appreciation.
During the performance our organist had some bars to play in the middle of a piece before the choir began to sing again. The conductor was beating away but there was no sound from the organ but a scrabbling noise of the music. The organist had turned over two pages so wasn’t in sync with the choir.
The conductor just kept beating away, brought the choir in as expected and carried on. At the end of the concert the audience did not clap although one could see from their faces that they had enjoyed our performance. It was quite a weird sensation to finish a concert with no clapping in appreciation.
(Vic wishes it to be made clear that he was NOT in the Pizza Restaurant in Wokingham on the night in question. Ed.)
TIPSY ON LIPSI? An unexpected musical treat for Lorna & Tim:
While on holiday on the Greek island of Patmos, Lorna and I decided to visit the neighbouring small island of Lipsi.
On the boat we met an English lady who was with her grandson and they later joined us for lunch at a small taverna in a narrow street. We noticed on the other side of the street an unusual building with a sign on the door which none of us could read. We were discussing what it might be when a Greek voice from the next table said, ‘It is the Music School and I am the teacher. I will show it to you.’
After lunch he took us into the single room school where there was little to see but chairs and tables. Then a small girl walked in with her even smaller brother. She was clutching a small violin but was too shy to play it for us, despite the elderly teacher offering chocolate. Her little brother succumbed to the bribe and played his small guitar for us, probably a Greek song.
When the applause from the 4 Brits had died away and the bribe eaten, the teacher took out a battered violin which he said was an Amati. Remembering that Stradivarius was apprenticed to the Amati family, my jaw clunked open. Anyway, he said he’d got it in Italy after the war and showed us photos of himself at London music venues. He tuned the Amati and started playing what he described as Greek classical music and, to our ears, playing it very well.
Then we realised that something was odd . . . . . he was playing left-handed!
By now an older girl had appeared and had taken out what appeared to be a dulcimer; strings stretched across a sound box which she struck with with soft padded sticks . She was delighted when we recognised one of her tunes as, ‘I had a little nut tree’ and we all sang along with her.
For Lorna and me that was a delightful and memorable international musical experience – then we had to rush to catch the ferry back to Patmos.
AND FINALLY . . .
Nessun Dorma updated for the opera aficionados: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL52AuF4QzY