Tag Archives: Chopin

Knocks Academy

Despite having been a pupil at Knox for 5 years and having taught there at least one day-per-week for 25.5 years, the first time I sat through an entire concert in the school hall was last Friday. Normally, I’m on stage or backstage with pupils or en route between the two.

So it was a real pleasure to sit, free of duties, through a Lamp of Lothian concert featuring the O Duo. The duo comprises former Knox lad, Oliver Cox and musical partner, Owen Gunnell, on percussion – yes, it’s a percussion duo.

The presentation and the patter of duo was very inviting and the playing both entertaining and virtuosic. With the boys’ blessing, I recorded the concert as an aide memoir to writing a review which the Lamp of Lothian will submit to The East Lothian Courier.

It then occurred to me that posting a couple of samples here might benefit:

  • The O Duo – encouraging people to check out the concert dates & CD on their website
  • The Lamp of Lothian – an example of one of the many concerts they put on throughout the year – entry to which is free for pupils
  • Knox Academy – perhaps an under-rated and over-looked venue – these mp3 samples were recorded on a Zoom H2 at the back of the hall

Hopefully these short samples will prove that there’s more to a percussion duo than hitting things with sticks.

Bongo Fury (composed by O Duo); Bongo Fury Alborada del Gracioso (Ravel); Alborada Courante Courante & Gigue Gigue from French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816 (Bach); Etude in C# minor, Op. 10 No. 4; Chopin Sonata No. 90 (Soler); Soler Flight of the Bumblebee; (Rimsky-Korsakov); Flight of BB

Getting in the weekend’s Chopin

An intensive Chopin weekend is underway on Radio 3 – details of programmes here. Interesting programmes include Discovering Music, which takes an analytical look at Chopin’s Four Ballades, and World Routes, which explores the folk music of Chopin’s native Poland.

The dedicated website contains tutorials, a profile and timeline of the composers life, video footage of performances, many external links and, for the interactively minded, an audio quiz. There is also a gallery of photographs relating to Chopin’s fraught holiday in Mallorca in 1838 with George Sand and her children. Sarah Walker‘s programme about this goes out at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon.

One of the tutorials, given by David Owen Norris, outlines the difference between the type of piano for which Chopin wrote and present day pianos. Those familiar with the music will not be surprised to discover that the touch of pianos back then was lighter and shallower, light and rapid playing. Classical guitarists will be familiar with a similar situation. The music of Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani, Dionisio Aguado etc. was written for a guitar which was not only smaller than the modern version but had a much lighter action (less tension in the strings). There is an impressive collection of such guitar in the Anne Macaulay Collection of Plucked String Instruments which is housed (alongside other impressive collections) in Edinburgh’s St Cecilia’s Hall.