Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Of whom I'm so proud

I arrived in Hove Actually at about 9.30pm last night, after spending the afternoon with Piquet in his studio in Worthing, mapping tempi and selecting midi sounds for the requiem. It's a lengthy process, which has to be done very carefully indeed, as there's nothing you can do to change the tempo beyond this stage. Every last tiny change in metre and pace needs to be mapped - and that can be tiring work. 

Fiona met me from the station and we went back to her house, spending the night eating wonderful food whilst listening to tapes of our teenaged selves playing chamber music and speaking on BBC Radio Northampton.

We woke up this morning and walked along the sea front to Brighton, marvelling at the pace of life on the south coast. I instantly find myself feeling more relaxed when I'm here. 

This afternoon, Piquet and I went to see Sir Arnold Wesker, who has the dubious honour of being the first person to lay down a vocal on the requiem recording. Sir 'Nold is singing the words written on his mother's grave in East Ham;

"she lived passionately, fought for right endlessly, loved family and friends deeply."

The words could apply very equally to his daughter, (my friend) Tanya, who was torn away from us all on May Day this year.

Arnold was brave and sang with beauty and great dignity, worrying all the time that he sounded breathless and out of tune, not realising that the sound I was after was that of a real person. The natural emotion and honesty in his voice was worth more to me than a dozen of the world's finest opera singers. Arnold has played a hugely important role in my life for the last 20 years, so his inclusion in this requiem means more to me than he'll probably ever know. 

We talked about his mother, and then about Tanya. I'm not sure he's even started to get used to the idea that she's no longer with us. "It just feels like she's not visited us for a while," he said. 

Dusty, 'Nold's wife, had made some beautiful scones for after the recording, which we ate with some of her homemade raspberry jam. She is, without question, one of England's finest cooks!

As we left the house, I asked 'Nold to sign my score. Parkinson's has really started to effect his coordination, and his writing has become a little wobbly; so much, in fact, that I had to ask what the first couple of words said.  "To Ben" he read "of whom I'm so proud." I don't suppose it gets any better than that. 

Back to Worthing in the sunshine. Finally a day of sunshine. Piquet and I continued with our never-ending mission to sort the sound files; which will continue tomorrow as well. 

Pepys spent the day 350 years ago  doing business (which often simply meant sucking up to people) across London. It was plainly a very lovely early summer day, for he took his wife and boy servant on a lovely duskly walk to the halfway house; which marked the mid-way point in the fields between the City of London and the village of Bermondsey. 

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