Thursday’s the day when Out of Silence is officially published. As I haven’t managed to organise a book launch party, how about a virtual book launch that day?
At 18:00 hours (UK time) on Thursday 18 March, I’m going to raise a glass to toast my readers, wherever they are. If you’d like to take part in my cyber-launch, please join in by raising something at the same time – not necessarily a glass of wine, but maybe a cup of coffee, a biscuit or a square of chocolate. 18:00 in London will be 19:00 hours in Paris, 14:00 in New York and Toronto, and 11:00 in San Francisco, if I’ve understood US Daylight Saving Time correctly. Let the virtual world ring with the cheerful clinking of imaginary cups and glasses!
Here I am in Paris, sitting on top of the concert hall where the trio made its Paris debut this week in a concert broadcast live by Radio France Musique. I’m sitting by IM Pei’s celebrated glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Musée du Louvre. Underneath the pyramid is a complex of foyers and lecture spaces including the ‘Auditorium du Louvre’ where we played. Strange to think that it’s taken this long to be invited to play in Paris, which is now only 2 hours and 20 minutes away from London by train, yet is separated from London by more than the English Channel. We found the Paris audience delightfully warm-hearted, and hope to meet them again soon.
My new book, Out of Silence, comes out on March 18. I haven’t even seen a copy yet, though I’m hoping to see one early next week. In the meantime, the publisher, Boydell Press, has posted another excerpt from the book on its website. You can read the new excerpt by visiting Boydell’s blog.
Coming back from a concert in Holland I thought, not for the first time, how strange it is that there’s only one little spot on the earth that is ‘my house’, and to which I have to make my way back from wherever I’ve been. In this case, first with a taxi ride, then a plane journey, then a train journey, then a tube journey, and finally a walk down a long road which takes me to the one place where, ‘when you have to go there, they have to take you in’.
In the course of these multi-stage journeys, making my way back to one little house in one little street in a big city, I often wish that my house would appear magically in front of me at the moment when I realise I’m tired and need to rest. I could, of course, stay in a hotel, but that’s no substitute for being at home. Nevertheless it sometimes feels strange that ‘going home’ is such an intricate procedure, and that there is no point in knocking on any other pleasant-looking door along the way and calling, ‘I’m back!’
I was recently sent the score of Mendelssohn’s D minor piano trio, in a forthcoming edition of his first draft of the piece. I’d read about this first draft, but had never had the chance to see it until the editor of the new Leipzig edition, Dr Salome Reiser, kindly sent me a copy.
I knew that Mendelssohn revised his original draft after hearing criticisms of the piano writing from his composer friend Ferdinand Hiller. But in fact the original draft was different in a great many respects, not just that of the piano writing. I spent an interesting morning comparing the two versions. In almost every case it seemed to me that Mendelssohn’s later ideas were better and more subtle, though in the first draft there were several passages where he had embarked on an intriguing harmonic drift, later abandoned. In particular, some of his ‘genius ideas’ from the later version, such as the unforgettable way he brings back the opening theme in the recapitulation of the first movement with a soaring violin descant above it – a descant which becomes the second theme of the slow movement – were not there at all in his first draft. Thank heavens he had second thoughts!
As Dr Reiser said, the first draft is notable partly because we tend to think of Mendelssohn as an unusually lucky person who just sat down in his elegant frock coat and let works of divine inspiration roll effortlessly from his pen. This early version of his famous D minor Trio proves that however easy or fluent the final result may look, there was (as usual) honest toil going on behind the scenes.