David Matthews-‘Not Farewell’ (Process)
18 10 15 (at the practice desk)
I am preparing to record the second volume of David Matthews’s extensive output for solo violin, this week. The first was released a year ago.
I thought that it might be valuable to document a small glimpse of the practice process for volume two, using the miniature ‘Not Farewell’. I premiered this piece in St Judes on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, as the encore for a concert of all David’s 15 Fugues, in 2003. Since then, my approach to the music has changed. I recorded this morning’s hour of practice, but have removed all the pauses, for writing, sipping coffee, grabbing cold medicine, turning off the heating etc. That leaves about 18 minutes of actual music-the normal proportion of practice time to sound (about 2:1)!
If you want to listen, you will hear four sections:
- A read over of my earlier technical approach, with the 2003 use of the hands
- A ‘blank’ play of from David’s unmarked manuscript (then there was a pause while I thought about this
- A very frustrating (for you), motivic breakdown, establishing new technical and expressive paradigm-you will notice that this is separated, quite markedly between left- and right-hand considerations
- A playover of the new version
What I would say, is that what I have learnt is that over the past decade, my approach to the piece has opened-the earlier fingerings and bowings result in a dark ‘covered’ approach. The unmarked playover suggested a ‘fresher’ approach, which appeals more to me now. However, at a certain point in the technical reworking, the ‘dark’ sounds found their way back-just into two or three points. Other things which struck me, was a certain ‘scotch snap’ quality necessary for chordal ‘grace notes’, and of course, the reference to Beethoven’s ‘les Adieux’ Sonata Op 81a, at the end of the work: ‘not farewell’ indeed!