Do you remember the BBC’s Morecambe and Wise show where Andre Previn was the guest? Eric Morecambe pretends to play the opening of the Greig piano concerto with Andre Previn conducting an orchestra. Needless to say it is a shambles. When Morecambe is taken to task by Previn, he says aggressively that there cannot have been a problem because he was definitely playing all the right notes, but then adds sotto voce that they may not necessarily have been in the right order.
I was reminded of that last night for different reasons when we sang all through A German Requiem, but not in sequence. I seem to remember that it went something like No 1, the fugue from 3, the fugue from 6, 2, 3 (complete), 4, 7, 5. This made us focus more than usually on the words and the character of the music, as we had to stop and think at the commencement of each item where we were in the overall piece.
Other than that, there was not much time for reflection at last night’s rehearsal. Carlos kept us all working hard throughout the evening, with only modest pauses when he focused on the tuning for one particular voice.
In such moments, I found myself wondering what we were all thinking as we sang this inspiring music to such a powerful text. Carlos caught me unawares as he movingly translated the opening words of No 3 into English: “Lord, let me know my end and the measure of my days; what it is, that I may know how frail I am.” We all know people who are dealing with the imponderable nature of chronic illness. We have all lost loved ones, Carlos himself most recently with the untimely death of his beloved soulmate Alexandra in December.
It is very fitting that this concert is dedicated to Alexandra’s memory. I am sure we will all rehearse that little bit more and concentrate that little bit harder in order to make it a performance worthy of someone who was both a consummate musician and an inspiration to us all, and who gave so much to MWC in so many ways.