Iain Cameron's Diary
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2012-02-28 - 9:22 p.m.


There was an interesting concert last night on R3 starting with Thomas Ades playing Couperin's Mysterious Barriacde on the piano. In the discussion surrounding the piece someone said it could have been written in NYC in the early 1970s. I got hold of the score and a midi realisation of the piece. Then there were three of TA's arrangements of Couperin. The real delight was the Britten Sinfonia playing Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin. I dug out the score to the original piano version - the orchestral work treats only 4 of the 6 pieces in the piano version. The orchestration is exquisite. I decided there was plenty more for me to learn from a careful study of the T de C.

The second half included some Stravinsky orchestrations of simple piano pieces which he had written in the First World War. These rather disappointed. However the piano and violin treatment that S came up with in the 30s of some material from his Nightingale opera sounded fantastic. It transpired that when he was in the US, S teamed up with a younger violin player and decided that the 2 of them could make some money gigging as a duo. So he took a lot of his earlier orchestral music and recreated it for violin and piano. There are a couple of recent CDs of this stuff and I really ought to buy one.

The concert finished with TA's Violin Concerto which I quite liked. I found a very cheap copy of TA's early settings of Eliot poems and decided that might have something to tell me.

The programme for this concert was very well judged especially in its exploration of the shifts of musical ideas between full orchestration and piano or piano and violin.

This evening there is another piano programme starting with Debussy's Estampes from 1903 - a major work I think. Then there s some Brahms and Lizst. The Op 118 of Brahms was only written ten years before Estampes - at the end of Brahms career.

The last piece was Bartok's piano sonata from 1926 which was fantastic. At this point I think that a number of composers eg Bartok and Berg were vying with each other to see who could go furthest. In the next few years most of them reined themselves in because the environment had become much more hostile.

In tonight's concert the interval was taken up with a reading of Petrach's essay on climbing Mt Ventoux in 1336. This has gone down as the first modern ascent of a mountain - partly because P was doing it just to see what it was like at the top and also because he wrote about it afterwards. On the top he took out a copy of Augustine's Confessions opening it at random and reading whatever was there. I saw Mt Ventoux during my trip to Provence in 2010.

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