We started again today with the enigmatic Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli 1629-c.1680, who was born in Montepulciano and who might have looked like this (Bette Davis eyes):The gorgeous, improvisatory, fantastical “La Cesta” 1660 sonata that we are playing was named after Antonio Cesti the maestro di Capella of Archduke Ferdinand’s Innsbruck court. Pandolfi worked here as a violinist after leaving Venice, where he grew up. He was subsequently employed in Sicily but after an incident there which left a dead castrato, he fled to Madrid where he finished his days.
Lament on Mars (for Bowie) has achieved an appropriate mood, respectfully slower than the original song but revealing the melody clearly as it goes along. A slower speed also differentiates it from the original which avoids direct comparison. The same works for the Bach andante in the opposite direction – we must make it suit our forces by playing it quicker.
Geminiani’s Auld Bob Morrice and Lady Ann Bothwel’s Lament demanded yet more sorting out from us, because his figuring of the bassline suggests far more harmonisation than the tunes actually want. He writes in two parts and to add chords to all of the bass notes is like adding a chord to every note of a tune. We channeled Dennis Cahill and it became much more successful.
Light and Depth is a nice puzzle to assemble and now I think we nearly have it: the sections morph into one another in a way that can’t be achieved with fully notated music. It’s true that musical notation is quite clumsy and can easily limit what we can imagine rather than serve to express it. In the same way that music exams have come to dictate what is taught rather than to assess it.
- Malachy 26/2/16
PS come and hear the fruits of our labours upstairs in the LexIcon Library at 1230pm next Friday, 4th March. Free to all!