Tuesday 9 December 2014

Listen to her play


To Holy Trinity Church last night, the Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts movement , to listen to the Carol Service, the celebration somewhat perturbed by the ministrations of a Sky TV crew such that the opening address was a safety announcement by an AFM (assistant floor manager), providing the most lowering introduction to Christmas imaginable, but the mood lifted quickly to the finely detailed rafters with the opening carol.

Then a feast of performers: Actors Robert Lindsay, Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones’ Diary), James Norton; the Freshfields Choir and CMS Chorale, that ensemble blessed with one soprano with a clarion descant. I suggested to her later that she get an agent, but her husband said she already sang just for him and he did not want his domestic arrangements perturbed, and who could blame him.

Then the astonishing Katherine Jenkins, OBE, whose slight form packs a mighty voice. She delivered a great Leonard Cohen Hallelujah; a beautiful Silent Night; and a Placide Cappeau/Adolphe-Charles Adam O Holy Night which would have gained approbation from anyone who ever sung in the Welsh valleys. An ex-teacher before her first record contract, she paid particular attention to the kids in the Colvestone Primary School Choir, beneficiaries of the The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts http://www.childrenandarts.org.uk/

I mean no disrespect to the aforementioned great performers, but let me continue as I had intended.

Then the star: This lady rocks. Just off the plane with her violin that morning at 3 am from a Sony recording session in Poland, Jennifer Pike gave a commanding performance of transformative power. Her playing of Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending was a masterpiece. Power, precision and infinite tenderness from the first note.

She closes her eyes while playing, she says, because she wants to see the form of the music in her mind, visualising where it must move to next. From time to time she looks at the faces in the audience, and seeing them changes her performance, making it different and more fun than the empty studio she was recording in the day before. She doesn’t consciously aim for a particular style, though Menuhin is always in her mind, not surprising given that she won the Menuhin International Violin Competition at the age of 12.

And so to bed.

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