April 2007

CD recording in Yehudi Menuhin School

April 24, 2007 01:51

In February this year, I was fortunate to be part of a CD recording!

Our orchestra, the Corinthian Chamber Orchestra http://www.corinthianorchestra.org.uk had decided to begin committing its repertoire over its 10 year history to disc. I can't tell you how excited I was, as I had never thought I would ever have such an opportunity. I had seen pictures of recording studios but never thought I'd actually be part of the whole process myself.
And when it was decided that the venue would be the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, I did a double-flip, as it was a place I always wanted to visit. I had heard so much about the School, & how different it was from the rank & file of music teaching institutions. Even though our recording would take place in a different part of the campus, just getting a chance to be there was good enough for me.

The repertoire included Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.

Everything was planned with military-like precision. At rehearsals in our regular venue, our leader Paul marked off the dimensions of the recording stage, & we learnt to play within those confines. There was a time-table for every player's mode of commuting, who would be coming by train, who would need a lift from the station, etc. A lot of us elected to stay in a hotel nearby.

We figured out ways to avoid noisy page-turns, made sure we wore clothing or footwear that would make the least possible noise. I was terrified my clicky knee would protest when it wasn't supposed to but it was good as gold.

At last the recording weekend dawned. Everything was planned and timed to the last detail, and I'm happy to say that things did go like clockwork. I think our conductor owes Paul a couple of fivers for that :-)

We would play each movement through from start to finish. Then would begin the laborious process of analysis. We would pore over minutiae, bar by bar. It was akin to polishing a rough diamond until it gleamed. It was a very interesting experience, because one had to look at each phrase, each bar, each note so much more carefully.

The first day was spent doing the Schubert and a little of the Beethoven, and day two went by a lot quicker.

Our conductor Alan was in fine fettle, and the orchestra too has never sounded better, IMHO. I'm looking forward eagerly to listening to the final product.

I think the whole experience brought us orchestra members a lot closer, & as far as I can recall it was the first time the CCO had "camped out" over a weekend, so that was fun too.

Attached below are a few pictures of that wonderful weekend.

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More recently I've had a chance to hear the Orchestra of St Martin-in-the-Fields play Beethoven's Seventh. Exhilarating as that was, it made me realise how good our own recording was, and what a good orchestra I've had the privilege of being a part of, for the past decade. Thank you CCO.

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Joshua Bell concert, Reading, UK

April 22, 2007 12:35

I attended Joshua Bell's concert in Reading, at the Hexagon, on 17th April. He was soloist as well as concertmaster/conductor of the Academy of St Martin-in-the Fields. It was an all-Beethoven concert.

They began with the Coriolan overture. Right from the impassioned up-bow from the upper strings at the start, we knew this was going to be a cracker of a concert. The cohesion in the orchestra was incredible, full of energy.

Then came the Violin Concerto. Some swapping of seats was required, as Harvey de Souza took Joshua's place. Bell's playing on the whole was flawless. I think he played his own cadenzas; I didn't recognise them. Very imaginative. I do think there was a tiny memory lapse on Bell's part in the second movement, as at one point he trilled, & didn't seem to know what to do next, but he recovered really well, & on to the third movement, wihch was taken at a very brisk tempo indeed. I'm used to listening to it played much slower.

After the interval, Bell returned to his place as concertmaster & led the Symphony number 7. Again, the orchestra revealed just why it's one of this country's top ensembles. Sensitively played, like a chamber work. All in all, an evening extremely well-spent.

There was a beeline to get Bell's autograph after the concert, while the rank & file of the orchestra got into vehicles to take them to their next port of call (Glasgow).

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