Good music – whether as a listener or a player – is always something very special, and even more so in a beautiful setting.
I’ve just returned from one of John Whilbley’s ‘Holidays with Music’ – a five-day trip to Cuenca in Spain. I had not been there before – what an inspiring place, a beautiful old hill-top town with a stunning cathedral, the latter being one of the venues for the concerts in a chamber music festival.
It was a real privilege to play alongside really fantastic musicians – the Carducci String Quartet, pianist Finghin Collins and harpist José Antonio Domené. The Carduccis gave stunning performances in three concerts, including Dvorak’s ‘American’ quartet, Mendelssohn’s impassioned Quartet Op.80 (written after the death of his sister), a stunning Bartok quartet and the Elgar Piano Qujntet with Finghin. His solo piano recital was equally impressive – a wonderful Sonata by Janacek, and all 24 Chopin Preludes all in sequence, all from memory, superbly performed. José ‘s harp recital was a fascinating tour of the harp repertoire (original works and adaptations), all beautifully performed in the wonderful cathedral surroundings.
I joined three members of the Carduccis for a Danzi Quartet, and Finghin for a recital (including music by Dutilleux, Ravel and George Gershwin) – a real privilege to work with really great musicians. There were also eight amateur wind players on this trip – 2 oboists, 2 clarinettists, 2 bassoonists and 2 horn players, the classic ‘Harmoniemusik’ wind octet line-up – who worked with me on the Mozart Serenade in E flat K.375 and gave a complete performance (about 25 minutes duration) on the final day. It was a very special occasion, and a real achievement performing this wonderful but technically demanding music.
Inspiration comes in many forms, and the combination of great music and a fabulous setting is especially good – to be recommended!