As part of the Cerne Abbas music festival in Dorset, members of the Gaudier Ensemble have been giving masterclasses in the church to some local young musicians.
Two years ago I had the pleasure of teaching a talented young Dorset pianist, Max Blass-Laker, and yesterday he played to me again. I remember that two years ago, aged 11, Max could hardly reach the pedals, but he had achieved a remarkable degree of legato playing without them. Luckily he can now reach the pedals, an essential ingredient in playing Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’.
The photo shows us discussing the right sort of sound for moonlight, and how to create it on the piano. I had suggested to Max that the opening bars should set up an ethereal sonority which would make everyone in the room glance instinctively upwards, as though a ray of moonlight had just entered through a window. Max paused to take this in, and as he started to play again, a rare shaft of sunlight struck us and helped to create the right atmosphere.