After months of meticulous preparation, the date has finally arrived – tomorrow I will be in recording sessions as soloist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conductor William Goodchild. I heard the CBSO on the radio two weeks ago playing magnificently at the BBC Proms in London. They are such a fine orchestra – I feel very privileged to be working with them on this very important stage of the Hyperion ‘Voyage of a Sea-god’ project. In recent weeks the daily routine has involved a lot of intensive practice, three or even four times a day, all juggled around a constant flow of emails plus numerous other commitments. A vital part of the preparations has been finding suitable reeds – this may seem rather strange to a non-player, but each reed is quite different in response and characteristics, and it is essential to play on a reed which is compatible with (for instance) very high notes, or very quiet playing, or that creates a particular sound and character to suit the mood of a piece.
So, all that has now been done – as far as possible! Now it’s a question of turning up tomorrow and recreating the music in the best possible way! (I’ll write about ‘recreation’ on another blog.) The programme over the next two days includes the Concertino by Elizabeth Maconchy, a wonderful work written in 1952 but never previously commercially recorded – quite astonishing after nearly 70 years! I’m also recording a beautiful folk-dance inspired Brazilian work composed in 1933 by Heitor Villa-Lobos entitled ‘Ciranda das sete notas’ (Round on seven notes), and a powerful Concerto written in 1984 by the Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik. This latter work was composed during the period of ‘Solidarity’, and was dedicated to the brave and outspoken Polish Catholic priest who was tortured and murdered by the secret police during this terrible period of unrest. All three works are quite different in character, and really do display the astonishing versatility of the bassoon as a musical voice.