I have received my feedback for the assignment on Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. A lot of the points were positive but I need to have more about the music in the programme note and less on the background/historical context. I hope to achieve this in my programme note for the Grieg Concerto.
I have been working hard over the last few weeks on my 3rd Research assignment. (see previous blog). I have listened to several recordings of the Piano Concerto in A minor.
The hard copy I own is good; Havard Gimse, with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra from 2003 on Naxos.
I have focused on the first movement for my analysis which has involved listening in addition to:
Julia Fischer with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie,
Percy Grainger with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
Dubravka Tomsic with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Ljubljana
I went to Central Music Library two weeks ago as I was needing more analytical points. I did get a valuable text: Edvard Grieg - The Manand the Artist by Finn Benestad and Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe.
On a personal level I think the work is enjoyable. I have tried to play the beginning of the first movement. I would a long time to learn this especially as my octave reach is limited. I might have a go at the second movement as this is more lyrical and less physically demanding, I think.
During the last week I have joined the Edinburgh University Library as a Reference Member.
I made two visits to the second floor where all the music books, CDs and scores are available. First of all I searched the catalogue using one of the computers. I am researching Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor for my last research assignment for this year. Pity as I am just really getting into this whole research thing! I found some interesting texts and was able to photocopy some pages for further reading. I will be going back to spend time reading some more and making notes.
Top Tip - It was quieter on Saturday than Wednesday. It was hard getting a desk through the week.
The staff were very helpful and knowledgeable on the Music Section Desk; on ground floor far left of reception hall.
I have also found the always enjoyable Radio 3 series, Composer of the Week, useful background research.
And for a specific discussion of the work Discovering Music Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor
I have also listened to Percy Grainger playing the first movement of the concerto in a very animated live performance recorded in 1945 with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
Yesterday I handed in my assignment which was due in that day, Yippee!!! Not the I didn't enjoy researching Purcell and Dido and Aeneas. I have managed to work with the pdf writer to annotate the score for my analytical notes. I have been using a software on my laptop called Dictation with some funny results for example for Venus and Adonis by John Blow became 'Venus and Doughnuts' and Purcell became 'carousel'.
Following the positive feedback on my first Research assignment I have been looking at starting the second one, due for the 4th of March. I have broadened my historical knowledge of the times that Henry Purcell lived in. Yesterday I listened to a programme on the Restoration of the Stuarts written by Sir Huw Wheldon and J.H. Plumb. Charles II was a great patron of the arts. His reign saw the re-opening of theatres, race courses and the commissioning of artists of all kinds. He also enabled the foundation of The Royal Society. Other great men of Purcell's time included Pepys, Newton and Wren.
Watching Charles Hazelwood's programme on Purcell has given me a real feel for the music and times of Purcell's London. There are lots of good musical excerpts in this, including the overture and final aria from Dido and Aeneas.
The picture is of 17th century London, described to me and revealing the London of Purcell's infancy. This was before the Great Fire of 1666 but possibly around the time of the Great Plague, 1664. Purcell lived in interesting times.
i have just listened to the whole Dido and Aeneas on YouTube. This is the Christopher Hogwood, Academy of Ancient Music version. I think this is a very good performance in Baroque pitch. I particularly enjoyed the 'storm' sound effects.
I am researching Edvard Grieg this weekend as well as listening to wedding Day at Troldhaugen my next work for piano I will be learning with my tutor Neil Metcalfe.
Biographies I have read so far
Today I will be looking for more on Purcell but the concept of the One-Man Band came up in conversation with Ma. I didn't know what this was. Being VI if I heard it on the street I might of assumed it was more than one musician. So ma found me a good excerpt of this guy Funny Tombow and described what his kit is like and how he plays it. Crazy but fun. Check it out... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDLrpG0DCqI
Dido & Aeneas is our current topic in Research. We are also listening to two versions of it in Critical Music Listening. First performed in 1689 this short opera is the oldest opera still a popular choice for performance. Written by Henry Purcell (1659-95), an English Baroque composer it tells the story of Dido, Queen of Carthage and her lover Aeneas, a Trojan prince. It is a tragedy in three acts. The libretto was written by the Irish born poet Nahum Tate (Teate) 1652-1715) http://www.baroquemusic.org/bqxpurcell.html