Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller


<<  -- 3 --  Jennifer Paull    REMINISCENT RETROSPECTIVES


I needed to get to the source -- to get to the composers. Practically nobody knew what an oboe d'amore was. Those who did thought it an echo from times past. Before me lay this steep, winding road and the prospect of pushing a heavy cart uphill, a somewhat daunting and thankless task, or so I thought. In fact, I have learned more about music than I ever knew existed, discovered and created and sought out so much more than I could ever have done, had I been satisfied by orchestral playing and the usual status quo. It hasn't been easy, but it has been passionate and stimulating!

The only battle strategy possible for obtaining repertoire was to work for composers, and that is exactly what I did. I became the promotion manager for Novello and travelled near and far to secure performances of our house composers, meet them, understand them, and try to persuade them to use my instrument in their scores. This was the start of other musical realities for me that I found far more personally inventive than orchestral playing. I 'did my own thing'. Choosing to specialise in the oboe d'amore, I didn't exactly have much choice! I could hardly have been a full-time orchestral musician specialising in an instrument without a full-time orchestral slot. My only future in the symphony orchestra would have been to play more oboe than oboe d'amore, and that was out of the question!

It was during this time that I visited the Arts Festival in Persepolis for the first time. This was the very cradle of the Persian Empire now known as Iran. I shall never forget the beauty of the setting. The wonder of watching modern dance companies (Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor), and listening to western contemporary music (Maderna, Stockhausen and others) in this historical setting, underlined that we are all citizens of one Artistic Energy striving for self-expression upon one small planet. Juxtaposed to Western Art were Kathakhali and Middle Eastern dance, folklore, and music.

'Oboe d'Amore at Persepolis' (1974) by Roland Valayre

Perhaps it was at that moment that another bolt from the blue struck me! 'Contrast'; that was the magic ingredient! How exquisite to listen to the western music of our time and culture inside the ancient setting of the past magnificence of another. All Art, ancient or modern, Eastern or Western, was overshadowed by the night sky. Open-air performances were set in the magnificent ruins of Persepolis in the late evenings. Clear and continuous like a giant, unrolling swathe of black velvet, the sky was strewn with the sparkling of a million diamond stars. The desert sky is master of its own mystery. No words can do it justice.

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Copyright © 31 December 2001 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland





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