Music and Vision homepage Cadenza Programme Note Library - Programme Notes by Mike Wheeler


<<  -- 3 --  Elizabeth Dobbs    MUSIC


Wednesday night Anton ushered Nikki into his living room. Yukio and Pete had already arrived, but Sandy had not. Pete bounced his bow gently on the strings of his cello, then adjusted the tension of the bow hairs.

'So you finally made it,' said Yukio, teasingly.

Nikki set her bag of recorders down against the couch and took off her sweater. She was luscious, there was no other way to put it. Theresa couldn't see what the attraction was, but Anton could. 'For God sake, she has hair in her armpits,' Theresa had said, shaking her head at the mystery of it. 'She must have pheromones to beat the band.'

'Yeah, well,' Nikki said, smiling at Yukio, 'my car broke down.'

'I could have picked you up,' Yukio said a little too eagerly.

Sandra arrived a moment later, cutting a tall, lean figure, but without Nikki's impact. She settled herself on the bench in front of the harpsichord and put her sheet music on its rack.

Yukio and Pete tuned the viola da gamba and cello to the harpsichord, then Nikki joined in on the Alto recorder. When they were finished, Sandy played a metallic note for Anton, who had sat down at last and taken his lute from its velvet lined case. The others were quiet, allowing him to tune his instrument.

'What should we start with?' Sandy asked, looking to Anton.

'Tobias Hume's The State of the Gambo' Anton said, and looked around at the group.

Pete and Yukio began to play, but shortly the voices of the instruments tangled and Yukio called out, 'Whoa, whoa!' The music wrecked itself and stopped.

Yukio looked at Pete and said, 'What're you smoking, dude?'

'Sorry,' Pete said.

'Let's start over,' Anton suggested.

Yukio began to play and was joined by Pete. The voices of the cello and gamba twined around each other in a simple musical form. They were good musicians, just not world class, and so the sound was clean and they played in tune, listening to each other, but an ineffable something was missing.

The key was minor, the notes moving at an angle, an expression of sadness which, to Anton, held within it hidden joy. Anton imagined the major keys as square and straightforward, singing out gladness while, when played in a minor key, the notes romanced each other in an oblique dance, opposite emotions coloring each other, the music infused with subtle tension. The minor keys seemed to speak directly to Anton's heart.

'That was lovely,' Nikki sighed, when Yukio and Pete had finished their duet. 'But, Yukio, can you play a little more lightly at the,' and she sang, 'ba, bummm, ba, ba, ba ...'

'This isn't a light piece,' he said.

'That's just it,' Nikki said. 'Play just those few notes a little more lightly, then really dig in as you descend, kind of like this,' and she sang, 'da, da, dummm,' her voice deepening and getting louder with each note. 'The lightness will let you really bring out the descending notes that come after.'

'Okay,' he said, and he and Pete began again.

After the five of them had played several trio sonatas, some calling for harpsichord and others for the lute, Anton played Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger's Toccata for Lute No 1, a piece for the lute to play alone. He enjoyed the opportunity to draw out some notes and shorten others, making his instrument sing, since he didn't have to be concerned about keeping tempo with a group of musicians. Anton felt like a glass blower turning, shaping, and stretching the molten glass that was music he made with the instrument in his hands.

Continue >>

Copyright © 8 June 2003 Elizabeth Dobbs, USA


 << Music & Vision home                  Lithuanian Diary >>