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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Searching for violinists in Yorkshire
and senior readers online,
with classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? ' Message for Alice:

I live in the wilds of Yorkshire and love playing chamber music, but my particular area is a little short of violinists. (I play viola, and was professional, now retired.) I recently discovered Beethoven's delightful duo for viola and cello and wondered if there was anything else you could recommend? It's such a lovely sound: just different enough for interest.

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Alice Dear J,

Well I've kind of lost touch with this, but I used to be world-expert, as my beloved sister Kath played viola; we're only a year apart in age. We spent hours on the Bach two-part inventions (these are not dull, esp for the top part) and adored playing the arrangement for viola instead of clarinet of Brahms clarinet/cello/piano trio (without piano, for the most part). International also published a little duet by Danzi which we also played to death (I have a recollection that was actually for violin but somebody arranged it.) I bet it would seem v dull now but we loved playing that.

There are also of course ye Beethoven duos (really for clarinet and bassoon, but often played on violin and cello. The violist will have to sweat, of course, a lot more than any violin would, but it's good for you; keeps the pores open ... violists have life too easy sometimes, esp in baroque music. I bet there are about ten zillion 20th century duos out there, but Kath and I wound up on different continents and I lost interest in this rarified duet medium for that reason. If anybody out there has any recommendations, I'd be delighted to pass them on.


Ask Alice

? ' Dear friends --

I've started a sort of blog, but with a url attached:

I've just posted the fourth piece there, since the beginning of October when I started it.

You may subscribe to this blog, if you like, and they promise absolute security. Or, if you wish, I'll just notify you when I put up a new column, which I hope will be every week. Let me know if you'd like to be put on this list (or not!!)

As before, I'll ask -- if you have suggestions about a favorite book or author that falls into this class, please do let me know.

Kelly Ferjutz

Ask Alice

Alice Hi Kelly,

OK, I've got one for you already. Brilliant book by the late great Penelope Fitzgerald that I just happened to buy called The Beginning of Spring. (Jan Morris, Independent: 'One of the those most skilful and utterly fascinating novels I have read for years')

It's about a British printer who grew up in Moscow, married, had children and then was inexplicably abandoned by his wife, who went back to the UK. It's very romantic -- he falls for the governess, in the best Jane Eyre tradition! -- and fabulously evocative of 1913 Moscow. You can practically smell it. The characters breathe life, it is full of deft comic touches; the Russian flavour of the (non-British) characters is Tolstoyian; and you get completely caught up by Frank's life.

You can thank me later for one of those books that makes you wish the train journey was longer ...


Copyright © 31 October 2008 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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