A long and exciting musical journey

Recording session at the Nimbus hall near Monmouth

Oh dear, too long a gap since my last blog! It’s certainly been a lively time recently, with energies largely focused on the final recording sessions for the Hyperion’Sea-god’ project. https://laurenceperkins.com/seagod-recording/ which I’m very happy to say is now well and truly ‘in the can’! What a journey it’s been – and despite a few challenges, the final sessions last month went really well. Over those two days, back at the Nimbus concert hall near Monmouth (shown in the photo – superb acoustics), I was joined on the first day by three more bassoonists, two of which are my former pupils. We recorded quartets by Prokofiev and William Schuman, plus two trios (incidental music to ‘Macbeth’) by Granville Bantock. They played superbly, as did the Carducci String Quartet the following day. I recorded a lovely Quintet written in 1969 by Gordon Jacob – then in the afternoon we were all joined by my Manchester-based friends Susie Meszaros (viola), Mike Escreet (double bass) and Eira Lynn Jones (harp), to record an amazing piece by Arnold Bax. It’s hardly surprising that ‘Threnody and Scherzo’ is rarely played, with such a bizarre and in some ways impractical line-up – it has apparently only had a handful of performances since Bax wrote it in 1936. It’s a wonderful and highly expressive work, very rich harmonically – I can see why Bax wanted this combination of instruments.

The legendary Andrew Keener has been the producer throughout the entire project, and he produced a bottle of prosecco at the end of the session, much enjoyed by all after our work on some seriously demanding music! I had an additional challenge in the form a fairly horrible cold virus which was at its worst during those two days! Mercifully it did not affect my breath control at all – the brain felt like it had a pillow stuffed into it, but I could cope with that! Andrew also promised faithfully to edit out all the coughs, sniffs and sneezes!

This recording project has been so exciting, and it now feels slightly weird to have very little left to do – it’s the programme notes and approval of the master recordings, and that’s basically it! I’m also quite relieved in many ways – I’ve loved every moment of it (even the difficult parts), but I’m ready to move into pastures new now. It’s been all-embracing – I even did some practice on Christmas Day! Now I’m looking ahead to new projects, new repertoire and new challenges. The music profession at the moment is more emaciated than I’ve ever known it – everywhere you look it’s cutbacks and a real downbeat mood, despite the upbeat rhetoric that we hear from managers and organisations desperate to disguise the reality we are facing. My feeling is that need something new and fresh, something that will inspire people who are jaded by too many uncertainties in the present time, and in musical terms too much of the over-familiar (bums-on-seats programming) alongside the opposite extreme end favoured by a tiny (and noisy) minority and largely inaccessible to the rest. Extremes are never good places to inhabit long-term, and my intentions are to explore new, exciting, fresh and accessible musical presentations where ‘accessibility’ is not a dirty word often used as a criticism against people who struggle with extreme inaccessibility, but an exciting new area of musical inspiration I tune with the third decade of the 21st century. Watch this space… 😀

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