Schop til you drop: we returned to Schop’s Lachrimae today – it’s such gorgeous writing for the violin that we would have been happy to play it all morning. But having ironed out a few wrinkles we had to move on… to the Berlioz. This involved some singing and playing and a fair bit of trial and error but there’s a very distinct character there and we just need to bring it out. In fact, that is the general ideal for everything we are doing: find the essence, and amplify that. The 17th-century instruments are not a strong flavour in themselves – quite the opposite. Modern instruments have been bred like crops and livestock to yield the maximum and have become extreme forms of their earlier selves. Our early instruments present a more flexible (though less muscular) medium for musical transmission, and from that point of view the present time-travelling project makes perfect sense.
The Gymnopédies were beautiful; we have decided on a slightly different orchestration for each of the three although the piano originals are almost identical in texture. And the answer to the question is yes, the isolated Left Hand note can be enhanced successfully by the addition of the 5th above without damaging the harmony (even though the note in question is often not the root of the subsequent chord).
[Frederick the Great of Prussia was a pupil of the great JJ Quantz from 1728 for about 45 years]
Lastly was Roseingrave’s 1730 Sonata no.12, which was published explicitly for flute but would certainly have been also played on violin at the time. The reason for specifying flute was that it was the fashionable instrument for European gentlemen and this music was intended for the “wealthy amateur” market. The movements are mostly dancelike, which suits us well, but there is one quite melodramatic allegro which starts with a solo bass voice (the hero?) followed by a solo treble voice (the heroine?) It’s most unusual, operatically comical, great fun.
- Malachy 15/4/16