Monday 23 May 2016
For a group that tends to work on projects rather than playing loads of gigs, we’re about to have an almost unprecedented flurry of concert-giving, courtesy of the lunchtime ‘Bite-sized Baroque’ strand of the Cottier Chamber Project. In the week of 6 June, we’re being continuo for Bojan Cicic’s series of the Biber Mystery Sonatas, and rounding the week off with some Biber & Muffat: the astonishing final sonata from Georg Muffat’s Armonico Tributo, no less. Then the following week we’re playing four concerts of the chamber music of Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. As if all that wasn’t enough, this Sunday we’ll be on Radio Scotland playing some tunes from our Nathaniel Gow’s Dance Band album. Dates and times are on the concerts page.
Also at Cottier, I’ll be playing in West End Baroque, revisiting the recent programme that included Couperin’s massive ‘L’Impériale’ from Les Nations. And before the middle of June is out, I’ll also be playing fortepiano in a play on Radio 4. That’s quite enough to be going on with I think.
I’ve been on a stage this month twice just talking about music. The first one was as part of the Baroque Unwrapped season at Kings Place in London, where Clare Salaman had asked Richard Wistreich, Stevie Wishart and me to discuss ‘how to be HIP’ (that’s so-called Historically-Informed Performance, rather than any claim to fashion sense). Then later that week in front of a symposium of drumkit researchers in Glasgow, I got to chat with Bill Bruford for an hour, covering amongst other things his newly-defended PhD thesis about creative performance at the drumkit, a spectacularly systematic inquiry of some world-class drummers. You’ll have to wait a year or so before you can read that one online, but in the meantime read his autobiography which is one of the most honest and insightful books about being a musician that I’ve read (and thanks to Jim Moray for recommending it to me years ago).
Finally, as proof of just how great Georg Muffat was (his parents were Scottish, you know), here’s his violin sonata played with a harpsichord that has 19 notes to the octave, so that both instruments can make the delicious changes between A sharp and B flat, or B sharp and C natural, or E sharp and F natural … it all goes a bit magical about 7 minutes in (thanks to Catherine Motuz for pointing me to this recording). I’ve always had a hunch that Muffat wrote this piece for Biber.