Wednesday 27 June 2007

Requiem for a concert

Phew. It's taken me three days to recover enough from our local music festival to write about it. We ended the festival with a performance of the Brahms Requiem in a transcription he did himself for piano duet -- we used two pianos, as we hadn't been sure which it was meant to be and the hire charges turned out to be almost the same. It should have been one -- or was at the first performance in 1871 (done because the venue wasn't big enough for an orchestra) -- but the editor of the score had made suggestions for extra octaves if you had the luxury of two.

I left choosing an outfit till an hour before the start time so as to have something to panic about other than my solo. I'm back to how overweight I was before I got pregnant, which is as much as I've ever been. As I buy all my clothes second hand and aren't too bothered about a snug fit, I generally have a range of sizes, and so it proved. A quite liked the look of the one I had to pour myself into, but my mother pointed out that the zip was straining and sanity prevailed. Sequins have amazingly little give, you know. I didn't want anything hampering my lung capacity -- that opening phrase demands every ounce of oxygen if you're not to snatch a breath in the middle (it's a sublime tune, 'Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit'). Anyway, it was all worth it, because I Did It In One. I was really quite pleased, as I didn't even always manage it in rehearsal. What with thinking about breathing, mood, a wide domey shape in my mouth (Berty speak), relaxing my tongue and not sticking my chin out, I fear that once again singing it in tune may have been pushed out by lack of memory capacity, but the people I asked who I expected to be candid said it hadn't been flat. In a week or so, when the buzz has worn off, we'll listen to the recording. I'm still not sure I woulnd't rather have the warm cosy glow of a memory happily distorted by the adrenalin rush, though.

An excellent group of singers, too: it's so lovely to listen to the exposed entries and not cringe. One needs all those choral society memories of fuzzy basses, histrionic tenors, wispy altos and strangled sopranos in order to appreciate really good singers. We did it with thirteen -- three to a part, plus an extra soprano to spare my blood pressure. They really were rather fabulous.

What can we do next year, though? Does anyone know of any good stuff that can legitimately be sung with piano or two-piano accompaniment, or have we exhausted that category? (We've done the Rossini Petite Messe Solenelle (piano and harmonium) and Carmina Burana (two pianos and percussion).) I guess we'll have to start thinking about a small orchestra, whether modern or baroque. Oh lord, it's going to be hell to organise. Ah. And there is one other requirement: if I'm going to fix the thing, it would be nice if it had a soprano solo. Wouldn't it? (Sniff.)

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