A square of sponge

Posted by Susan Tomes on 2 May 2010 under Concerts, Daily Life  •  3 Comments

I played a concert this week and noticed that my page-turner, sitting beside me at the piano, was holding what looked like a generous square of fudge in her left hand. As a fudge fan myself, I didn’t find it hard to imagine why one would wish to have a square of fudge on stage, but she seemed to be holding it with unusual care. Eventually I allowed myself to ask what it was.

‘It’s a square of wet sponge’, she explained. Not cake sponge, you understand, but the kind of sponge you clean the kitchen with. ‘ I got the idea from watching bank staff counting out notes. They use a pad of something wet to moisten their fingertips so they can easily leaf through  notes without getting two at once. I hold the sponge like this, moisten the fingertips of my right hand on it, and then lean forward and turn the page. It helps me not to distract the pianist by fumbling with the pages right in front of their line of vision.’ What a brilliant idea! And it worked like a charm.

Haydn’s Gypsy Rondo trio

Posted by Susan Tomes on 30 April 2010 under Daily Life, Florestan Trio, Reviews  •  Leave a comment

Haydn_portrait_by_Thomas_Hardy_(small)A kind person at International Piano magazine has sent me, without comment, a copy of the May/June issue. It turns out to have a survey of recordings of Haydn’s ‘Gypsy Rondo’ piano trio. ‘The Florestan Trio … displays uncommon musical intelligence while refusing to allow any hint of sentimentality of any over-indulgence in the finale. This recording has a fundamental feeling of ‘rightness’ that makes it the most likely challenger to the Beaux Arts Trio as the purist’s choice’, writes David Threasher. And there’s a nice big photo of us as well.

Finishing his survey with a summary of his favourite five recordings, the reviewer recommends ‘the Florestan Trio ‘for the marriage of intelligence and athleticism in its performance…  and they take authenticity to the extent of having a young lady pianist.’ Poetic licence in that adjective, I’m afraid, Mr Threasher, but thank you!

Happy birthday, dear website

Posted by Susan Tomes on 28 April 2010 under Daily Life, Musings  •  4 Comments

my cherry treeHappy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear website,
Happy birthday to you!

This blog ‘went live’ one year ago today. To mark the occasion, what better than a photo of the cherry blossom which has just come out in the garden?

The first anniversary seems a good time to take stock.  If you read this blog regularly, do you like the frequency of new posts? I try to write something every couple of days. Do you find it too much, too little, or about right? Is the variety of subjects a good thing, or would you prefer it to be more solidly focused on music? 

Before I sail on into the second year, I’d be happy to hear your views. If you feel like giving me some feedback but don’t want your comment to be visible to everyone else, please send me a private e-mail by clicking the relevant link beside my little photo, top left of this page.

Wild Surmise Soufflé

Posted by Susan Tomes on 26 April 2010 under Daily Life, Inspirations  •  Leave a comment

soufflé with wild garlic and sorrel‘You’re looking at me with a wild surmise!’ said Bob as I came into the kitchen. I said I was trying to identify the unusual aroma coming from the oven. ‘It’s wild garlic’, he explained.

The clutch of pungent green leaves in this week’s organic veg box was a challenge to our usual cooking routines. After some thought, Bob devised a delicious soufflé flavoured with wild garlic and sorrel, served with purple sprouting broccoli.  It was a symphony in gold and green. Before we sat down to eat it, we agreed that the new dish should be christened Wild Surmise Soufflé. Served with a glass of Chablis, it was a luxurious supper on a spring evening.

Wrong notes versus wrong words

Posted by Susan Tomes on 23 April 2010 under Daily Life, Musings  •  3 Comments

We attended a funeral in a small church this week. As we sat waiting for the service to begin, an organist was stumbling through some well-known hymns, their outlines blurred by a haze of wrong notes. Though I tell myself to lighten up, I find I’m very impatient with this kind of stumbling. I can’t ignore it and tell myself that it is done with love, or at least goodwill and community spirit. Every time there was a wrong note or chord, I was distracted from my peaceful meditation on the life of the dear departed.

Why is it considered OK to be musically incompetent on a public occasion? Wrong notes or harmonies in well-known tunes are, for me, as bad as wrong words in a well-known text. Everyone would agree that it was unacceptable if, say, a vicar began the funeral service with the words, ‘We are tethered here today to calibrate the life of ….’. Yet musical errors are not considered equally startling.