Scaramuccia - the "Little Skirmisher" Scaramuccia comes from the
traditions of commedia dell'arte in southern Italy during the
seventeenth century. He served the plot often as would a northern
commedia Capitano and thus Scaramuccia is also a boasting braggart but
truly a coward.
This weekend! 3 days non-stop chamber music in Bristol!!
It will be an epic weekend for us. 3 violin players, 3 cello players, 1 viola player. Could be the start of a bad joke but it is actually the start of a great adventure in the classical era. Non stop performances of the greatest classical composers chamber music works from Bocherini to Mendelssohn.
Duos, trios, quartets, quintets, concertos. The menu for me includes Schubert's wonderful string quintet, Mozart's Dissonance Quartet, a Beethoven Op.18 quartet just to mention the most gourmet dishes. And all this on gut strings!!
We might be very exhausted by the end but we are well up for this challenge!
More details here: http://www.reallyclassicalrelay.co.uk
Finally it's almost time for the Glorious Mysteries!
Come along to listen to the last part of our Biber cycle.
The music is amazing, I can't stop falling in love with these sonatas over and over again! You think you found your favourite one and then you start practising a new one and then you have a new favourite again!
The scordatura tunings of this last part are just incredible!
And again it will be with a wonderful group of people of course. Henrik Persson on gamba playing lovely chords and melody lines, Jadran Duncumb on theorbo plucking away with unforgettable sound and to support all Pawel Siwczak juggling between harpsichord and organ.
Come and listen to us on the 14th of February at 1.05pm in St.Mary-at-Hill (Lovat Lane, London, EC3R 8EE)! Admission is free!
Traveling is very big part of a freelance musician's everyday life. You learn to live in airports, sleep in any kind of moving vehicle and master the art of relaxing in uncomfortable chairs. You get to learn how to tolerate extreme conditions and situations and how to stay calm when everyone else is annoyed and scared. You know you will get to your destination. Somehow. Anyhow. You learn how to get information in a language you don't speak and to be friendly and understanding with strangers who you might share your way for a while.
But last week's journey definitely deserves a longer post.
Getting from A to B in Europe within a given time interval can be very tricky. Around the holidays it can be even more tricky.
I was given a 36 hour time frame to get myself from A to B with my usual survival kit including instrument(s), moving office, half my wardrobe and this time on top of all these, my Christmas presents and of course tons of food you have to take from home in case you will suffer a cake-withdrawal syndrome after the holidays.
I found the best and most economical option which looked like a car share. Agreed weeks before. Cancelled the day before. Other driver, fine, fixed. Start is about 5 hours later than I expected, we still have good chance to get to B around midnight. I thought. Turns out this is an organised people transportation business.
So I found myself in a car with 8 strangers including the one driver. Given the distance it could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship but the situation turned out to be more like an art movie than a holliwood family movie. Characters including an ex-soldier driver, a patriotic man who is stuffing typical hungarian food into his mouth to make the long journey less boring, a quiet, smiley guy from Afghanistan in the corner who can only speak german, 2 very giggly young blonds, a know-it-all oldish lady who has two settings: either snores or tries is to talk to someone, a nurse guy, a broken handed builder guy and me, the musician. The deathmobil had to pick up and drop off all the passengers at the exact address. After a quick round question it got very clear to me that this will mean sometimes even 100km detours so I might be arriving to B a bit later than I thought. But because I will be driven to the house it doesn't really matter. I thought. Im the last one to be dropped off, I just stop thinking and follow orders and chill out. I thought. But around 6pm the general vibe starts to change. People are getting angrier being squeezed into a metal box for already 13 hours, realising they won't get to their destinations on time even with the constant speeding. Dropping off a few passengers proved to be more difficult than expected. Knowitall Lady walked through the front door of the wrong house at 2 AM(!). Finding the right door in a village with only 6 houses in the middle of a forest wasn't easy. The driver expecting the payment from the family there is getting angrier and angrier as it turns out they don't know anything about this arrangement. Meanwhile the gang back in the car discovers a wet surprise the lady left on the seat.. Really? As an adult who is traveling across the continent to start working as a carer? Not OK. That's kind of helping to build a group feeling and makes us giggle a bit. But only the passengers, not the driver of course.
Finally the last person before me, the afghan guy is dropped of at the main station in Frankfurt at 5 am. Then it is only me and the driver left. Is he tired after 25 hours behind the wheel?? I'm trying to talk to him to keep him awake. Realising he is in much better shape than me! He does this kind of things regularly, he had military training and he is really a tough guy. We pick up his girlfriend before the last 2 hours of driving to B. This is the point when it really gets bizarre even for me. The girlfriend is not exactly modest and kind of distracting him from the road, kissing, hugging him at 6 am, while we speed through Germany and arrive to my destination, to the HIP4tet headquarters, to my safe place at 7am. The last 2 hours of the drive I was in such a stress that I never felt more relived to leave any vehicle in my life before. Distance: about 2200 km. Time: approx 27 hours. What the 2 people left in the car did in the parking place, is nothing to do with me!
With shaky legs I ring the doorbell and go to sleep for 4 hours until the start of my rehearsal.
Doing recordings seem to be the thing at the moment. Unknown composers, never heard pieces, weird instrumentation, funny compilations, anything goes. It is great for us, musicians. We get to discover new stuff, we can listen to other people's discoveries. You can judge them, they can judge your recordings. The playing, the style, the ornaments, the pieces, anything really. Very often when I get my hand on a new CD, a piece which wasn't available for listening so far, I get very excited. Starting from the design, the smell of the new plastic, the program notes, going through the list of the players and the actual experience of the music enclosed on the disc. Or the same excitement when you discover something new on TheOnlineMusicStreamingSoftwareWhichDoesntNeedToBeNamedHere..
But what's behind an exciting new release? What's the process? Is what you listening to actually the outcome of a long long process with loads of thought given to it, or just a quick session to get something done before someone else does it for the sake of...I don't even know what. As a player, you often get a very different experience than the listener would imagine.
I was lucky enough to record a number of albums over the past few months with different groups. Very interesting! The different dynamics of the groups have such a big effect on the way they record! Of course there are many other 'ingredients' to it (time, budget, sound engineer, budget, repertoire, budget and of course dont forget the budget). Some groups rehearse a lot, record in a short time. Sometimes you dont get a rehearsal, hoping the music will shape up during the sessions. And of course any kind of mix of the previous two. But most often the (tutti)players only really get to know the music on the sessions. If....
Some groups record with a lot of discipline, silence between the takes, candies on the floor, only the conductor and the sound engineer (sound from the ether) talks, points out places to look at, correct. Sometimes everyone is trying to accommodate one person's wishes. Soloist, conductor, ambitious leader/wind player, etc..Other groups talk a lot, argue, discuss during the recording session. Some do a lot of full takes with a few patches, some record everything as a puzzle. Some, after a long time of playing-talkin-playing-talking, 20 minutes before the end of the session, starts to record and nails it in 3 takes.
You never know what you get when you agree to do a recording. Most of the time it's very tiring of course. You have to give your 138% all the time, so it's not you who the whole orchestra blames for the extra take. Trying not to make noises with your shoes, strings, eyelids, stomach, cracking joints makes it even more intense. And then on top of these, accepting the style of the group and go with the flow. Too intense? Have a massage or a pint after. Too relaxed? Time to start writing poems or train for the next staring competition.