Our sheet music string duo arrangement of Una Furtiva Lagrima ( A Furtive Tear) is now available. This hauntingly beautiful tune is the most famous aria from Donizetti’s opera L’Elisir D’Amore ( The Love Potion) and it seems incongrous that it comes from a comic opera as it completely transcends its context.
The plot of the opera
L’Elisir D’Amore tells the story of a village boy called Nemorino who falls in love with Adina. To win her affection he buys a ‘love potion’ from a visiting quack doctor – not realising that it only contains wine.
About our arrangement
In our arrangement the cello has the tune for a great deal of the time – reflecting the fact that it is a tenor aria. You can buy our duet of the aria here:
Our latest sheet music arrangement is one of my favourite folk songs – The Lark in the Clear Air – and this warm-hearted, tender tune is ideal for wedding ceremonies.
The beauty of string sound…
Anyone who has heard The Lark Ascending by Vaughan William will know that the violin is excellent at evoking bird flight, and we have exploited this in the arrangement, which is calm and gentle and shares the tune between both instruments.
the words of the song…
Dear thoughts are in my mind
And my soul soars enchanted
As I hear the sweet lark sing
In the clear air of the day
For a tender beaming smile
To my hope has been granted
And tomorrow she shall hear
All my fond heart would say
…and the beauty of the Irish countryside
For me it’s no surprise that this music originates in Ireland, and when you hear this song it’s easy to imagine walking in the Irish countryside thinking only good things…
Tomorrow is New Year’s Day – traditionally the time of new resolutions; and many of those will be to get more exercise. But if you’re a musician regular exercise could have more benefits than you think.
Biking is Best!
A few weeks ago I started biking on an exercise bike for twenty minutes a day- the first time I have ever done any regular exercise – and I’ve been delighted to find that it has definitely made the technical side of cello playing easier. Perhaps it should be obvious that a job which involves intricate co-ordination is likely to be improved by being physically fitter, but it had never occurred to me, and no teacher or other professional player I have ever met has mentioned this.
Although other forms of exercise may work well, biking seems to be extra good for enhancing co-ordination. Two years ago I went with a friend who has early stage Parkinson’s to a small spa town in Northern Italy where they have developed an exercise programme which can dramatically improve Parkinson’s symptoms; they have discovered that just fifteen minutes biking every day is especially effective.
It’s easy to focus on the artistic and perfectionist sides of playing an instrument and forget that – if you step back a bit emotionally – the cello and piano are large instruments that need quite a lot of physical grappling to get around with ease. Alexander Technique can be very helpful in teaching optimum use of the muscles of the body and encouraging relaxation, but if you find things easier generally you are probably less likely to tense up or over use your muscles om the first place.
I don’t write as an expert in this area, I’m simply passing on my own experience; but it’s been so positive that I am likely to stick to this particular non New Year’s Resolution, even if I don’t stick to any others.
How important is it to stick to authenticity when arranging a piece of music – or indeed adapting a book for film or theatre? Of course well known tunes are well known for a reason: they’re good! And if you change too much you can lose the whole point of the music. However, if you are altering a piece dramatically anyway – say arranging an operatic work for violin and cello duet – trying to aim for complete accuracy doesn’t always work. In many ways you need to accept that the medium is so different the whole thing needs to be re-imagined to come to life. Simply copying and necessarily leaving a lot out can result in a lack of vitality.
Red Priest Baroque Group
Mel Gibson and Glenn Close in Hamlet
Adding new ideas true to the spirit and character of a work can hugely increase the energy and excitement of performance. How far you should go with this is a matter of individual taste, but not morally wrong! Shakespeare’s plays will never be diminished no matter how many varied interpretations they are given; and Bach will never be a lesser composer no matter how many styles his music is played in. There is no such thing as one ‘authentic’ way to perform anything. Performance and interpretation are about giving pieces life and re-creating them, not just copying notes; this was an idea prevalent in baroque times, and, like everything in art, is nothing new. It also makes the whole world of concert giving a lot more fun.
We’ve decided to change our website and focus on recitals, violin and cello duet sheet music and cd sales. To launch our new look we’ve just edited Roger’s string duet composition – Lunchtime Blues – and are now selling the sheet music on line. This fab short piece is very laid back and almost sleazy sounding. As long as you are comfortable sliding around on the cello it lies under the hand well. It’s the sort of music you could almost play with one finger – almost.
So what inspired this composition? Roger writes: “It was a hot summer’s day. An old school friend, an artist and I had been walking around Peterborough looking at second hand books, drinking coffee and discussing philosophy. We somehow ended up in the garden of a pub by the river. An intelligent young lady was serving, her blonde hair reflecting the sunlight, her expression sultry. No words passed between us and nothing followed from this silent encounter except the piece, Lunchtime Blues.”
Roger and I recently recorded some of the violin and cello duet sheet music arrangements we are now selling on line. We made the recordings at the wonderful Wadenhoe Church in Northamptonshire which is idyllically situated at the top on a hill – isolated from roads and noise. Having recently read Andrew Graham Dixon’s book, A History of British Art which explains the extent of the destruction of British art in churches during the reformation I kept wondering how much more decorative Wadenhoe Church would have been before this took place. Its atmosphere remains tranquil though and it is a beautiful place to work ; we are extremely grateful to the parish for allowing us to record there.
Our violin and cello duet sheet music sales are going well – it’s quite weird that the internet has made it so easy and quick to sell to clients at the other end of the world – and we look forward to putting the recordings on line later this month.
Orton Hall Hotel is one of the best wedding venues in Peterborough, so we were delighted when our string trio was invited to play wedding music here again a couple of weeks ago.
We performed for three hours during drinks and the wedding breakfast, moving from the conservatory – which is light and airy – to the main dining room.
The bride and groom had chosen extremely elegant decorations for the table settings and, as this was an Italian wedding, they had asked us to include some Italian music; so we played Ave Maria, a selection from Vivaldi’s The Seasons, Italian arias – including Nessun Dorma and pieces from La Boheme, La Traviata and Rigoletto – and our own sheet music arrangement of Speak Softly – the love song from The Godfather movie.
Orton Hall is an 18th century manor house surrounded by 20 acres of beautifully cared for grounds, which give it a very open, relaxed feel. Organisation was excellent throughout the day and the weather was wonderfully warm for October.