Happy Christmas to all our customers from around the world! Thank you for your support, which we value very much, and warmest wishes for 2019.Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have enquiries or suggestions. Below is some super Christmas string music:
I went to a wonderful performance of Cinderella by Ballet Cymru recently. I was especially impressed by the choreography and music, which had been newly created.
The production was inspiring: the ballet was powerfully expressive and I loved the music , which was composed by Jack White:Rehearsing Cinderella
Using music to enhance a story
Telling a story or having a clear feeling, image or mood that you want to express can be a great starting point for composing music . It can also be a fun way of improvising when you practice: Cinderella Music
Ballet Cymru is an innovative company and I definitely recommend going to see them if they are performing nearby. The most comparable thing to the Cinderella music we have on our website is our music commissioning service: Gifts and Dedications
…and perhaps these opera cello duets, which have been arranged with the character of the songs very much in mind: Habanera Cello Duet
We have just added some new duet sheet music to our online shop. It’s called Morning Prelude and a recording will be available in November.
This is a 3 -4 minute piece in a gentle reflective mood which starts and ends with harmonics on the cello. There is a also a cello solo version: Morning Prelude for Cello Solo
The music was inspired by watching one of my baby twin grandsons looking out of the window on a wintry morning when he was just three weeks old.
Composing and improvising
Becoming confident about improvising on your instrument is one of the easiest ways to learn to compose. There are actually very few well known pieces for cello solo, and those that do exists are often extremely challenging to play. This is a pity, because you can achieve evocative effects fairly easily without making it too technically demanding. This is what I aimed to achieve in both the cello solo and duet version of Morning Prelude. The main mood, after the opening harmonics, is calm and relaxing, so if you are able to feel like that when you play the music it definitely helps.
We’ve just given a concert at the 12th century Wadenhoe Church. The programme was of our own string duet arrangements plus the first performance of a piece I composed for solo cello called Morning Prelude.
The audience at Wadenhoe were very welcoming and feedback has inspired us to plan a recital programme – and cd – of English folk music ( plus some of our own pieces.)
We have often recorded music at Wadenhoe because it has ideal acoustics for chamber music and a beautiful sense of calm. The church is currently recovering from having had their roof vandalised, but it’s good to know that repair work is taking place and should be completed by the end of October.
Roger Stimson’s new composition Tangerine Tango is now online and for sale in the ‘new compositions’ section of our shop! You can hear a recording and buy the sheet music here: Tangerine Tango
This is what Roger has to say about his piece: ” Tangerine Tango was the first of set of three tangos I wrote – each with different moods. It was written for my youngest daughter and expresses something of the struggle of life – the trials we have to go through to reach peace of mind. The harmonies are just out of the comfort range until the first theme appears which triumphs over this. The overall theme is twists and turns.”
If you feel practising the cello can sometimes be a bit isolating, reading cello blogs is a good way to stay in touch with other cellists’ enthusiasms and obsessions.
As with all blogs beware of believing everything you read! Everyone’s approach to the cello is different. What suits one person may not work for another.That said, I think it can be beneficial to hear others’ views, as long as you remember you don’t have to agree with them.
Here are some of the most interesting websites:
The Cello Internet Society – accessible through Facebook, easy to join and unpretentious. It’s full of ideas, suggestions, videos and enthusiasm, and if you have a problem you can post a question and get lots of replies fast.
Cello Bello – a fairly new website covering most aspects of cello playing including teaching videos, masterclasses and a legacy section about famous cellists from the past.
David Finkel’s 100 Cello Talks on You Tube ( see Talk 1 below) are fascinating. They present practical tips from a wonderful cellist with loads of performing experience.
On a lighter note Extreme Cello is hugely impressive and full of energy and fun!
Finally, if all this cello talk inspires you to want to learn some new duets why not visit our online shop on the link below: Cello Duet Shop
Following on from the last blog here is some more narrative playing – that is, where there is a clear interpretation that is full of ideas.
Example 1: Casals and Bach
Casals’ heartfelt recording has spellbinding drama .
Example 2: Rachel Podger and Andrew Manse
The imaginative dialogue between the two soloists in this performance of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto makes the music sparkle into life.
Cello Duet Narrative
The cello duet arrangements of Puccini’s aria Your Tiny Hand is Frozen and Mozart’s Non PiuAndrai have a clear story line so lots of opportunities to play with narrative. You can hear and buy this music on the links below:
Music narrative is an essential part of great interpretation. By narrative I don’t mean something you could necessarily put into words, rather the performer having a clear idea of what the music is about and what it has to say.
Examples of Music Narrative
The example above – though crackly – is a superb example of performers who are completely at one with the mood of the music ( Massenet’s Elegie ) and convey its character wholeheartedly and beautifully.
Here are some relevant quotes from the great Russian actor Stanislavsky:
” Create your own method. Make up something that works for you. Keep breaking traditions, I beg you.”
“You’ll never see any two great actors approach a role in the same way.” “Play well or play badly, but play truly.”
The overall point is that if you come up with imaginative ideas that are true to you they will breathe life into the music – just as an actor hopes to breathe life into a character he portrays.
Opera has its own narrative
One of the easiest ways to respond to narrative is when playing opera arrangements, where there is a defined story. Our arrangements of Toreador Song and Habanera – from Bizet’s opera Carmen – are good examples of this.
Our filmed recording of La Cumparsita sheet music has just received 1000 ‘likes’ on You Tube. This great tango is immensely popular and our arrangement has now been viewed by more than 137,000 people.
We filmed the video in 2011 at Kirby Hall – a beautiful stately home owned by English Heritage.
About our arrangement of La Cumparsita
The setting for the film was a partly covered courtyard, which had caught the eye of one of our Lux Technical film crew who thought it would be especially suitable for the character of the music. Today our sheet music arrangement of La Cumparsita is the most popular piece we sell, and it’s also one of the least complicated to play. Our aim was to project the darkness and sensuality of the tango mood. I hope we have achieved some of this.