Friday, September 02, 2011

Chinese Seal Cutting and Mahler 1

Tremendous performance of Mahler 1 at the Proms by the Budapest Phil under Ivan Fischer. I caught it on the radio which at least allowed me to conduct with the score.

The details of Mahler's orchestration are amazing. Just one tiny example, from Bars 273-280 in the 2nd (Frere Jacques) movement there is a ppp quaver figure which starts in the 1st violins on a B who hand over to the 2nds who hand it to the violas and cellos, each overlapping for 1 (or cellos 2) quavers finally ending almost 4 octaves down on the C. The Double Bass come in just for that C, but whereas the cellos have the note ppp for a quaver, the Bass has it pp for a crotchet!

BTW I'm sure it's not just my English ears that find the triumphal theme in the 4th movement to be inspired by "And He shall reign for ever and ever" - indeed not as a quick google shows.  Would be fascinating to establish the connection. Beethoven of course described Handel as "Master of us all".

Work going really well and I managed to prove a lovely and quite important theorem.

Last night my colleague took me to the Chinese Embassy for a "pre-launch" of the exhibition of seal cutting by Li Langquin that is coming to London next year.  Li was a Vice-Premier for 10 years but is now and artist and scholar. All fascinating.  I've been invited to give a seminar at Tsinghua later this month and am trying to learn as much as I can about Chinese culture. Met many interesting people including Prof Fan Di’an - charming and very knowledgeable and I hope we'll meet him again in Beijing.

No comments: