I awoke early this morning to hear the glorious, heart warming sound of real rain; that rain that comes in a steady, constant stream, falling as if it has always fallen, and ever more shall fall: neither beginning nor end is imaginable. Not content with listening to it through the open window, I hastened out, foregoing tea for the present, and spent an hour walking around parts of Gloucester: the cathedral close and the docks, taking in the real joy of the morning.
Wandering down the Via Sacra to the docks I found myself humming a blend of Gurney and Finzi: The Trumpet and Intimations of Immortality - two of the works heard in last night's concert. Intimations is Finzi's true masterpiece (truly over and above Dies Natalis), and although I realised I had not heard if for a long while, it is one that I feel very deeply. With this and Elgar's Sea Pictures, sung majestically by Sarah Connolly, I was pondering Gurney's place in the programme, with this, the first professional performance of The Trumpet, and the first time Gurney's music has featured in one of the major evening concerts. I have no doubt in my mind that the work stood up very well against the two established pieces, and was an integral part of a coherent and remarkable programme.
Gurney's work is intense: it is a densely compacted in its ideas, and very powerful with it. It could perhaps have been more expansive in its setting (one would have liked it to have been slightly longer!) but the pacing of the piece, with its tremendous intensification and crescendo to the last 'arise' and final cadence in the orchestra, is masterfully judged.
My own input into the piece - the orchestral colouring, the work originally only being in piano score with no indications as to scoring - is something I have been left pondering, as one might expect. Against the scoring of the Elgar (a master orchestrator) and the Finzi, the Gurney seemed somewhat cloudy in parts, in spite of what I hoped to be a clarity of texture, not being too cluttered. I couldn't quite decide whether there were some issues with balance, or whether it was merely a little tentativeness on the part of the orchestra, who have had just two rehearsals on the work: one the week before the Three Choirs Festival and that yesterday afternoon. The Gurney, being relatively new, was obviously unknown, against two works which they must know very well; and Gurney's writing can be densely chromatic, which, it was obvious during the rehearsal, some of the players weren't quite believing to be true. In fact Adrian Lucas, who did a fabulous job at the helm last night, told me that at the first rehearsal he asked if there were any queries about the score, following which there was a flood of queries asking whether various notes were in fact correct (and I am pleased to say that they were!).
The upshot of all of this is: does the score need revising or not?! Adrian rebalanced the final chord slightly, adding a little more third, which was lacking in the overall texture, and this I shall certainly amend; but the rest? I shall ponder further. Who knows whether it will receive another outing for it to be necessary to make any revisions?! We shall see.
On my meanderings this morning I happened (intentionally) upon Wolfgang Buttress's The Candle - the new sculpture in the docks, for which I consulted on matters Gurney. From the two thirds of the base of the sculpture currently visible, I could see that there was no Gurney poetry engraved into it. Perhaps the intended use of two of Gurney's poems proved impracticable. Once the installation of the sculpture is completed I shall be able to say for sure...
And whilst I'm here: catalogues! (The same to you I hear you say!) There have been some technical difficulties with data on the archive servers, with records disappearing, so I have had to hold off the upload of the first part until this morning. Fingers crossed, that first part should go in fine, should not disappear, and should be on the public server following an update on Monday. I'll keep you posted!