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Wadenhoe Church Archives - Fedora Strings Sheet Music for Sale

Bach Cello Suites CD

By | duo wedding cello and violin music, fedora strings, fedora strings performance, sheet music, string teaching, tour dates, violin and cello duet sheet music | No Comments

I’ve just completed a cd of Bach’s first and third unaccompanied cello suites which is due to be released in July. These two suites are both very positive and sunny in mood and have been a joy to work on – most of the time anyway… I think this music is wonderfully relaxing to listen to and has a great sense of overall balance and calm. I’m not sure quite how Bach achieved this. I’ve just read a book with extracts from his letters and it’s clear that his life was just as busy and stressful as most of ours are today.


Most of his letters are  formal, necessity communications rather than outpourings from his heart; he obviously expressed his feelings through music rather than words. You get a sense of his practicality and down to earth approach to things though, which is where the fascination lies as he is one of the greatest of all composers.


Although well respected by his contemporaries, Bach was nowhere near as famous in his lifetime as he is now and only a fraction of his music was published.


The cd was recorded at Wadenhoe Church in Northamptonshire and I’ll be it through this website, so please email if you’d like to know more.

New cd recording session at Wadenhoe in Northamptonshire

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Last week Roger and I completed the first stage of our new cd recording. The cd will focus on folk music and,  like our first cd, will consist of our own  arrangements. In addition we’ll be selling the sheet music arrangements on our website as soon as we have time to edit them thoroughly. To buy our first cd click here http://www.fedorastrings.com/moonlight-and-music-cd-by-fedora-strings/

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We  have very generously been allowed  to use Wadenhoe Church in Northamptonshire again for our recording session and it’s a venue we’ve come to love: the surrounding scenery is beautiful and the acoustic  excellent, but more than this, the church  has a feeling of rightness, balance  and harmony which is hard to explain. In this way it reminds me of Bach’s music, and always helps me feel calm and regain  perspective – no bad thing when you’re about to embark on the stress of a recording session.

wadenhoeWadenhoe Church

In the morning we recorded six tracks of folk music: Londonderry Air, Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, Over the Hills and Far Away, Lilliburlero, My Love is Like a Red Red Rose and Dance to Your Daddy. In the afternoon we continued with four pop tracks for our website: Eleanor Rigby, All You Need Is Love, One Day Like This and Songbird. Of course most of us know the names of the composers of the pop songs, but who wrote the traditional folk tunes ? Folk music is street music , so it’s very democratic, and perhaps its a surprise that so many of the songs are lovely. Or perhaps it shows that the need for expression is inherent for us all.

imagesItalian folk musicians

Unaccompanied Bach in Northamptonshire

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Next Monday I’m recording Bach’s third unaccompanied cello suite at Wadenhoe Church to complete the Bach cd I’m making ( the first cello suite was recorded last May.) The music is so happy in spirit that however fed up you may be feeling it usually has an uplifting effect. It’s in the uncomplicated key of  C major and has a certain virility and confidence  that makes it a joy to play, despite its technical challenges.


I’m not an early music specialist but I’ve been reading musicologist Robert Donington’s book A Performer’s Guide to Baroque Music  which has some interesting things to say:

When  a virtuoso cellist conveys a sense of undue strain in Bach’s unaccompanied  suites by too massive a sonority and too heavy an articulation, this is not from any unsuitablity in his noble  instrument; it is because  he is applying a mental concept which, powerful and impressive though it may be, does not really lie within the baroque boundaries of style and is not really matched to the implications of the music.”

” The baroque performer was meant to set his stamp on the music. Reverence for the written text can be a virtue, but was no part of the baroque attitude. A text left deliberately incomplete was not meant to be exactly established but imaginatively realised. Options left open by the composer cannot be tied down to any exact intention: the intention was that they should remain the performer’s options.

Quoting  sentences out of context is a bit like the dodgy practice of manipulating phrases from the bible to make your point.  But one interesting aspect of the book is that Mr Donington believes that baroque performers were trained in a completely different way from modern performers and that improvisation in concerts and creatively altering music you were going to play was the norm. This must have given players a wonderful sense of freedom which would be hard to regain today. Perhaps the main point though is just to enjoy it.

Fedora Strings' Concert at Wadenhoe Church in Northamptonshire

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Last week Roger and I gave a recital at Wadenhoe Church, near Oundle.We chose and introduced a programme of our own arrangements of duo music ranging from Mozart and Boccherini to Cole Porter and Gershwin, and included John Rutter’s royal wedding commission This Is The Day as we’d been asked to play something connected to the Diamond Jubilee. Giving a recital is quite different from performing at a wedding and we enjoyed the experience .Members of the congregation had very kindly organised food and sparkling wine afterwards so we could relax and chat with everyone, and Wadenhoe Church is a joy to play in. I think it’s my favourite church in the world.

Recording Unaccompanied Bach

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This Wednesday I’m going to be recording Bach’s Cello Suite No 1 at Wadenhoe Church. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to other cellists’ recordings, most of which are excellent,  and also recordings of unaccompanied Bach by violinists. With so many superb interpretations around why bother to record it yourself, you may ask? A good question, especially as I usually find solo playing quite stressful – even unaccompanied Bach at weddings –  and nowhere near as relaxing as chamber music with Fedora Strings.

I suppose the main reason is that I love the music, and live performance is so ephemeral and subjective that I would like to have a something permanent which will always remind me of how I play. Performing unaccompanied is revealing and technically demanding, but this suite is very happy in mood. It’s in G major, one of the most relaxed and calm keys, and was written at a time when  Bach was in his mid thirties, healthy, well respected and had a secure job at the court in Cothen ; I think the music reflects this confident state of mind. Above all, it expresses that wonderful sense of balance that is so characteristic of Bach’s music and shows a great love of life.

About forty years after Bach’s death a scholar called Christian Shubart’s  wrote a book on key characteristics and described  G major  like this: ” Everything rustic, idyllic and lyrical, every calm and satisfied passion, every tender gratitude for true friendship and faithful love – in a word every gentle and peaceful emotion of the heart is correctly expressed in this key.” What wonderful words. If I can manage to achieve just a little of that in my playing of the first cello suite, I’ll be pleased.


Wedding ceremonies and receptions in Peterborough and Northamptonshire: St Michael and All Angels, Wadenhoe

By | fedora strings, fedora strings performance, planning your wedding | 3 Comments

St Michael and All Angels at Wadenhoe fulfils my most romantic ideals of what a church should be: it’s always open, quite remote, a place you can turn to for succour, fairly small and has a true sense of calm . I love this church’s serenity, its lonely – almost precarious – siting at the top of a hill, its amazing views and the sheep grazing outside. For me it also has good work connotations, as we recorded our duo cd here. String duos or solos for wedding ceremonies would carry well as the resonance is excellent.

Wadenhoe Church  is over 800 years old  – there’s even a Saxon grave here – and it’s unpretentious. Although it’s only accessible by foot at the front, there’s a hidden countryside entrance around the back, over cattle grids, which leads to a small parking area. As you drive up the idyllic views almost make you feel like you’re entering another world and the stresses of everyday life seem to fall into perspective.











Wadenhoe village, at the foot of the hill, has some of this same magic. It’s very lovely, far enough away from main roads to be especially tranquil and close to the River Nene. Wadenhoe House – with its 8 acres of grounds and 27 bedrooms – or the 17th century King’s Head pub, are both excellent,  though very different, venues for a wedding reception. If intimacy and beauty are your priorities for your wedding day you’ll find them at Wadenhoe.