End-of-week Music-making

Hello everyone! Today I have had a really amazing day, possibly the best I’ve had all year. I had a Schubert String Quintet rehearsal from 12.30-7.30pm today. By the end, we said that we could have gone on for twice that.

It was really sunny today in Edinburgh – quite extraordinarily so actually. We were slow to start the rehearsal, so we properly started at about 1pm in the Chapel which is amazing to play chamber music in. Because we knew we had ages to rehearse, we decided to take loads of time to do intonation warm-ups as a group, and we did scales in C and Db Major (the two main key signatures of the Schubert String Quintet), whole tones scales in both of those keys, and then chordal whole tone scales (which are fantastic to warm up with).

We rehearsed mainly the 3rd movement, as we have a lunchtime concert and a competition in which we are playing the 3rd movement; however we did also play the 1st movement (ah, the joys). Anyways, we had plenty of breaks, lots of fun, and it was generally amazing!

The part I must tell you about is what happened in the final two hours of the rehearsal. We were doing the 3rd movement – the Scherzo (lively, fast and upbeat) and the Trio (slower, relaxed, sad but utterly gorgeous) – and a friend of ours who is doing the 1st movement came in to listen to our rehearsal. We decided to do both the lunchtime concert and the competition by memory, which is quite unconventional for chamber music; however this gives us an even better connection with each other which is ultimately what chamber music is all about.

When our friend had left we asked her to switch the lights off, and we played in total darkness, starting with the gorgeous Trio. We were so in our own world. With our eyes closed, we felt this “sixth sense” that is, in truth, possibly the most phenomenal thing about playing chamber music in the dark, and all of our entries that we would have usually looked at each other for were perfectly together! We were so into the music, we ended up going onto the Scherzo for the second time (it comes back to it after the Trio) and finished the piece, with only a few memory slips.

All in all, it was fantastic, and these “Schubert Saturdays” will certainly be happening again soon.


2 thoughts on “End-of-week Music-making

  1. Schubert is amazing. I would never have known about his music at all had it not been for a chance online encounter with an Indian college student who loves Goethe. It’s amazing how the “interwebs” sometimes throw beautiful things our way. I can see how a musician could become Schubert’s music. What a wonderful thing. (I love reading your blog.)

    1. Thanks for the comment! Schubert’s music is fantastic. The only two other composers’ music I’ve felt as strongly about have been Tchaikovsky (his 6th Symphony is perfection) and Debussy (whose La Mer is also my idea of perfection). Funnily enough, all these composers went through either massive transformations during their lives, or experienced hardship – Debussy had active personality changes and taste changes, Tchaikovsky spent his childhood being bullied (and of course I have no idea what it must have been like for him to be gay in 19th Century Russia), and Schubert was, or so I’m told, bi-polar, and his String Quintet he never got to hear as it was the last piece he wrote (the Trio represents himself nearing the end). Anyways, it’s something to think about. Have a nice day, and thanks for the comment! 🙂

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