Ear of the beholder

24th November 2010 | Concerts, Daily Life, Musings | 0 comments

To a viol masterclass given by the eiminent Catalan viol player Jordi Savall at the Royal College of Music. As always happens when I listen to ‘early music’, it took me a little while to tune in to the quiet sound level favoured by the players. It’s so different from the strong, projected sound used by most of the people I work with, and to begin with it seems almost like whispering. Even a consort of five viols sounded like delicate tracery. I found myself leaning forward in my seat to catch it.

But clearly the sound level was assessed differently by those steeped in the early music world. To my amazement, after hearing the quintet of viols play their piece, Jordi Savall smiled and commented that they were like a group of people all talking too loudly, trying to outdo one another.


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