Thursday, 28 June 2012

Angel Studios

A very relieved man is writing this blog tonight; a man who has spent the day at Angel Studios recording strings for the London Requiem. It is difficult to imagine how the session could have gone any better. Angel Studios is not cheap, but arriving in a space which has already been set up for your session - so professionally that players don't even need to shuffle their chairs about - is worth its weight in gold. The studio engineers were beyond top notch; completely on the ball, and almost psychically attentive.

Sam conducted. I didn't have to get sweaty. I could sit back, relax and focus on the sound that was being brought to me by the extraordinary players. At one stage, during the Gradual and Tract, I became absolutely overcome with emotion. The strings finished their sequence and Sir Arnold's vocal kicked in. It sounded raw and filled with emotion; a voice in the wilderness. I suppose it was a mixture of pride and joy that I felt. The music I've written in this requiem is filled to the brim with little pieces of me; and hearing it coming alive for the first time was a heart-stopping moment. I explained to the strings that the melody they'd just played was dedicated to Jacqueline du Pre. I didn't tell them that I'd sat writing it at the foot of her grave. That felt a little too much, but I suspect, because they played it with such great tenderness, that they knew it had come from somewhere important to me.

I am beginning to think this recording could be something very special indeed. I just received this email from one of the string players:

It was an incredible day. I can honestly say I haven't enjoyed a session like that in quite some time.
I was moved too and am proud to have been part of it.

350 years ago, a genteel woman, claiming to be a relative of our hero, paid Pepys a visit, and asked to borrow 10s, which she promised to pay back that evening. Unsurprisingly she failed to return. More surprisingly, Pepys revealed that she'd played the very same trick on him on a previous occasion; "I shall trust her no more" he wrote. I wouldn't have given her a second chance!

Pepys spent the entire day in the office and went to bed, writing that his "mind is now in a wonderful condition of quiet," on account of all the work he'd been doing in the office of late. "business" he wrote, "is a delight to me."

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