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Catherine Mackintosh, an OAE violinist and ex leader, will be taking part in our The other amazing Mr Bach study day tomorrow, playing and talking about CPE Bach’s Trio Sonata Sanguineas and Melancholius. Here’s our speed interview with her:
What/when was your big breakthrough?
My breakthroughs have been many but small. A very early one was playing the One Note in Purcell’s Fantasy of that name with the members of the Melos Ensemble as a teenager. Emmanuel Hurwitz was then very helpful to me. Becoming leader of the Academy of Ancient Music in 1973 was also a huge career step for me.
What do you fear the most?
Snakes, without a doubt and anything bad happening to my family. Not too keen on the idea of death either.
Which mobile number do you call the most?
As my husband hardly ever uses his mobile, I expect it’s Philippa’s (OAE Orchestra Manager).
What – or where – is perfection?
I have never been in pursuit of it actually because, if it exists, or is discovered, it is all the more astonishing for being unsought. Sitting in front of a roaring log fire in our house in France comes pretty close I must admit.
Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Aunt Dahlia from the works of PG Wodehouse. She is described by her nephew, Bertie Wooster as “a festive old bird” and now I have reached a certain age, I cannot imagine a better state to emulate. Read the rest of this entry »
So the previous post clearly stumped you, though someone over on Facebook did guess one correctly! Both are violinists, with Catherine Mackintosh on the left in the ‘happy’ mask and Matthew Truscortt in the ‘grumpy’ mask. So what’s with the masks you might ask? Well, as part of our The other amazing Mr Bach CPE Bach study day tomorrow, Catherine and Matthew, along with Steven Devine (harpsichord) and Jonathan Manson (cello), are performing CPE Bach’s Trio Sonata Sanguineas and Melancholius. Back in his time it was thought that the human body was filled with four substances (humors), which in balance made for a healthy person. The ancient names for these are Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, with the theory being known as humorism.
Each of the humors has a characteristic, so Sanguineas is a lively, fun, bubbly and vivacious character. On the other hand Melancholius is a rather dour, sad and pessimistic individual. In CPE Bach’s piece (which is being performed in the afternoon session of our study day, together with a discussion after) the two violins play these characters, hence the masks, which yes, will get worn for the performance.
Sanguineas has a chirpy upbeat little melody, while Melancholius’s tune is slow, sad and long. Sanguineas constantly tries to cheer Melancholius up, interrupting his melody and being relentlessly upbeat. Eventually the upbeat nature of Sanguineas wins and the two end up playing the same tune. It’s CPE Bach’s only piece of programmatic music (i.e. music which evokes a non musical source, such as a story or poem) and really is a fasinating and quirky little piece.
Who knew such adjectives would be applied to a little known Baroque (or early Classical?) composer? But those are the words of OAE players and conductor Sir Roger Norrington, when asked to describe the music of CPE Bach. Steven Devine, who plays Harpsichord, goes on to say he’s ‘a bit of a maniac’. Who knew? In our latest video OAE players and Sir Roger talk about this fantastically exciting and unusual music, which we play tomorrow at Southbank Centre. You can find out even more about the music in our Study day on Saturday, with some serious study of CPE Bach in the morning and a performance and player discussion in the afternoon.
Next week is CPE Bach week here at the OAE. Or, as we have called the concert, The other amazing Mr Bach week. It kicks off Sunday in Bradford-on-Avon with a concert of his music conducted by Sir Roger Norrington, which then comes to London on Thursday 3 March. Then we have a study day on 5 March, again at London’s Southbank Centre, allowing you to delve deeper into the composer and music. After that we’re off to the States – with concerts in Boston and New York, but more of that another time.
In today’s Guardian there’s a feature in which journalist Guy Damman argues that CPE’s Bach is unjustly neglected. He quotes musicologist Annette Richards who says:
“His music – or the music he considered representative of his talents – is miles away from the elegance and balance we associate with this period. Timelines are crisscrossed, he is endlessly stopping and starting, wrong-footing the listener and causing his audience to reconsider its relation to the music. In that sense, it’s very postmodern, a kind of meta-music.”