Saturday, January 05, 2019

all our instruments

A recent scientific survey has revealed that there are around 50 musical instruments living under my roof. The precise number depends on whether or how you count the contents of my percussions box, which includes 8 scallop shells, a pair of table spoons, a triangle, and other weird and wonderful things. The number also tends to increase with time.

Around ten of the instruments (and the percussions box) get to go out regularly, but the others may get a bit bored, so I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to give each instrument a place in the spotlight, i.e. on YouTube. Posting one video per week that project should keep running for the year (follow the series with the all instruments tag). The order of appearance will be chronological, i.e. the instruments that have been in the family the longest will come first.

So without a doubt the first spot goes to Heinrich the cello, who has been in the family for almost a century now, although I am afraid to say he had to spend a few decades in places not really suited for cellos, such as my grandparents’ attic. I have written about his life story until 2009 before, so I’ll just have to add that since then Heinrich has played lots of lovely music with the young cellist in the family (who is also responsible for the naming of all string instruments).

(a recent portrait of Heinrich)

When she is away at uni and/or playing lots of other instruments, Heinrich may get a little bit lonely, so I like to take him to the Oxford Slow Session and to Cowley Orchestra, and sometimes also to the Galician session, although that can be a bit noisy and rowdy for a gentleman of nearly 100 years.

Heinrich has appeared in a few videos already, but to start the new series, I recorded one of my favourite Galician songs, Lela, music by Rosendo Mato Hermida (1914- 1994):

I've taken inspiration from the version sung by Maria do Ceo. Please don't look too closely at my non-existing technique. The bow-hold goes back to my youthful attempts to play double bass, and the fingerings are based on the fact that the fourth position is a lot easier to locate than those either side of it. (For reference, here's the young cellist playing the same tune faster and with all the fingers in the right places.)

I'll also take this opportunity to round up some of Heinrich's earlier adventures with the young cellist:

Gerald Finzi: Clarinet Concerto 3rd Movement
. Oxford Concerto Orchestra, Madhavi Berks (Clarinet). Heinrich is just inside the frame of this video, most of the young cellist just outside.

Mozart: Allegro from Quintet in E minor K516 - The Cardwell Quintet, Oxford Chamber Course 2015.

Anton Rubinstein: Melodie in F - The Downes Cello Quartet at the Oxford Chamber Course 2015.

Guillaume Paque: Souvenir de Curis - The Foxwell Cello Quartet at the Oxford Chamber Course 2014 (more about the composer).

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