not dead to me

Ok, ok, I promise to use vibrato more if you promise to stop describing (and hearing) music without vibrato as “dead”.

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practice as addiction

Practice is an addiction in that we are motivated by a certain belief that solving one more, one final technical problem will mean the world cannot fail to take notice at last.

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long ride in a slow machine

I finally had the opportunity to hear Morton Feldman’s second string quartet (the one that lasts five hours), at a festival in Monaco called Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo, and I wrote about the experience for the Strad magazine.

It was the Quatuor Béla who played it, not for the first time nor for the last since I understand they have future performances lined up. Even if I’m not there, I very much want them to programme Webern’s 6 Bagatelles in the second half.


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I’ll let you into a secret: not playing music is torture. You can fend off the torment by doing some practice and there’s a little bit more to it but really: a day not performing music with people is sheer torture. And when you know other people are, and you are not? It’s torture.

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grimes lines

While doing some background reading as preparation for my first experience playing Peter Grimes, I discovered an unpublished poem by George Crabbe that would surely have resulted in a somewhat different opera had Britten come across it.


There once was a fisherman named Grimes

Accused of some terrible crimes:

The mood got so dark

He said: stuff this for a lark!

And sailed off for sunnier climes.



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the non-corporate ideal

Orchestras are sometimes presented as a model for businesses to emulate: the conductor as managing director, different instrumental sections as different corporate departments and so on, all working harmoniously to some common purpose.

But if your business is making cars and you somehow ended up making something different like a bicycle, or worse still something of no commercial value or practical use, that would be a disaster. In an orchestra, that would be tremendous.

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Music is organised sound: unmistakeably the words of a composer (Varèse). A musician would prefer: music is expressive sound.

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