David Matthews-‘Not Farewell’ (Process)

Posted on October 18th, 2015 by

David Matthews-‘Not Farewell’ (Process)

On the practice desk. New working copy, MS, and old copy (David Matthews 'Not Farewell' -inspiration from some thigh-shaped pantiles in Dubrovnik

On the practice desk. New working copy, MS, and old copy (David Matthews ‘Not Farewell’ -inspiration from some thigh-shaped pantiles in Dubrovnik

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.

Matthews Solo works. Volume 1 Buy here:

Matthews Solo works. Volume 1 Buy here:


Link to buy volume 1

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)!

David Matthews 'Not Farewell' (MS) , reference to Beethoven Op 81 'Les Adieux'

David Matthews ‘Not Farewell’ (MS) , reference to Beethoven Op 81 ‘Les Adieux’

If you want to listen, you will hear four sections:

  1. A read over of my earlier technical approach, with the 2003 use of the hands
  2. A ‘blank’ play of from David’s unmarked manuscript (then there was a pause while I thought about this
  3. 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
  4. 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!

Beginning of 'Les Adieux' Sonata-Beethoven Op 81a

Beginning of ‘Les Adieux’ Sonata-Beethoven Op 81a