Sunday, 8 January 2017

rain sonata

I am still enchanted by the cello transcription of the Brahms violin sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 78. I heard it performed at one of the local music societies, and found the opening tune of the first movement delightful, and strangely familiar since I didn't have a recording of it and didn't think it got that much airtime on Radio 3, let alone Classic FM.  It felt like something Mendelssohn might have written after his trip to Scotland, lilting and folk inspired.  Perhaps that was why it seemed familiar, not because I knew the sonata itself but because it reminded me of something else?  It took a little digging to find a recording of the cello transcription that wasn't appended to practically the whole of Brahms' music for cello at a correspondingly hefty price, but Maria Kliegel on Naxos obliged and somebody kindly gave me a copy for Christmas so I have been listening to it virtually on a loop while cooking.

I mentioned my new found enthusiasm to my uncle the retired Radio 3 producer, who approved of the Brahms and of Maria Kliegel.  I loved Maria Kliegel's verdict on her career with Naxos.  Her friends were rather sniffy about her going to work for a budget label, asking whether she couldn't record for Deutshe Grammophon.  It was not that simple, she had told them, and anyway, years later all her recordings were still in print.

I am beginning to think that the reason why it sounded familiar might be that it gets used in all sorts of TV soundtracks, so I have heard bits of it without ever knowing what they were.  I thought I recognised a snippet in the final episode of Simon Sebag Montefiore's history of Vienna, by way of illustrating late nineteenth century Viennese culture.  I should probably get a recording of the original version for violin now.  The little tune is a total earworm, but at least I know what it is.  It took me ages and a fruitless trawl through the entire waltzes of Chopin to track down the waltz used in the soundtrack of Waltz with Bashir, which in the end it turned out to be by Schubert and not Chopin at all, though looking on the bright side I ended up with Stephen Hough's excellent Chopin disc which I enjoyed anyway, after the initial disappointment that it didn't contain the tune I was looking for.

Today was much warmer.  It wasn't just me that thought so: the bees were out foraging on the mahonia.  I decided that if it was warm enough for the bees to fly it was warm enough for me, and spent a few useful hours tidying up the gravel planting in the middle of the turning circle.  The first spikes of bulb foliage are already appearing, and the sooner it is done the better, quite apart from the fact that I still haven't managed to sow the Tulipa sprengeri seeds I was given.  I should have sown them as soon as I got them, since the seed is said to germinate better fresh, but there didn't seem any point until I had weeded the ground where they were going.

My top nuisance weed in the gravel at this time of year is a fine leaved and innocent looking wild vetch.  When small it looks so elegant and delicate you could be tempted to leave it, but if left it forms great smothering mats of foliage while the flowers are nothing to write home about.  The roots are extremely reluctant to pull out of the ground even when the plants are tiny, and it takes careful weeding to extract the vetches without pulling up all the emerging seedlings of Nigella damascena.

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