Thursday 30 January 2014, 12:48
I can’t believe we are at the end of January already. It truly is that horrible, dark part of the year when all you want to do is consume vast quantities of comfort food and cuddle a hot water bottle - as opposed to get up sharply, warm up nicely, rehearse, go home, eat dinner and practice x 100.
I’ve been trying to seek inspiration from the lovely CDs I got from Santa - two more of Lawrence Power’s Hindemith recordings, Lise Berthaud’s Schumann/Schubert/Brahms offering, and Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die. Although the latter was from my cousin Nick, in his never-ending quest to make me a little cooler.
We will work with both violists, Power and Berthaud, in the very near future, a prospect that truly excites me. I feel this to be quite a golden age for the playing of the viola with new works being composed for it and older works being rediscovered. Incidentally, if anyone got to hear Power performing the premiere of James Macmillan’s Viola Concerto with the London Philharmonic recently, I would love to hear from you!
We have been back in the studio recently and it has been another recording marathon - I can’t wait to get back into concert mode. Our sessions have been what are known as DPS - dual purpose sessions. This means that the works recorded will be used by BBC Radio 3, but will also be available for commercial release.
Our first patch of recording was with the Chandos label for a CD of euphonium concerti with the, quite frankly, incredible David Childs. With Grammy and Juno award-winning conductor Bramwell Tovey at the helm, this was a very pleasant way to start back to work.
We were recording four works (concerti by Karl Jenkins, Horovitz, Hoddinott and Wilby) and on the stand it looked like a terrible amount of music to be covered in a very short period of time.
I think it takes a very particular character on the podium to work against the clock like this - to be able to make speedy little tweaks here and there, to resolve ensemble issues, or to be able to spot and correct issues in the score quickly. Mr Tovey was humorous and efficient, meaning that there was a good sense of momentum to the sessions, which is always a good thing.
Not unlike the viola, the euphonium often gets rather unfair jokes made about it. I had a brief sojourn in a brass band (don’t ask, long story, but I had to wear a band jacket and everything), and I can honestly say I have never heard a euphonium make the sounds that we were treated to during the sessions. David Childs really makes the euphonium sound like an instrument of unparalleled virtuosity - his playing is extraordinary.
Inspiration can come from all sorts of unexpected places, but I genuinely never thought I would find the euphonium inspiring. Our sessions with David Childs were a demonstration of how wrong one can be on that front.The BBC National Orchestra of Wales start their season of concerts at Swansea’s Grand Theatre on Friday 31 January – for more information, call the orchestra’s audience line on 0800 052 1812, or visit www.bbc.co.uk/now.
Wednesday 29 January 2014, 12:19
Thursday 30 January 2014, 14:05