Fiona stayed at ours last night and after an early lunch at the spoon on Archway Road, we made our way (via Camden) to St John's Wood where we visited RAK recording studios. I'm not sure RAK should be written in capital letters. I don't know if it stands for something or if it's short for something else. Whatever the case, it's a rather fine little recording studio which oozes both class and atmosphere. In fact, if some of those corridors aren't haunted I'll eat my hat! Which is lucky because today I took delivery of one of the many hats I've left in different corners of London in the past year!
Speaking of eating strange substances, I'm told the Americans talk of "eating crow" in a similar way to the way we talk about eating humble pie. They're a fascinating lot, those Yanks. An American friend of mine, who has recently become a TV chef, was tasked with cooking a female chat show host an actual crow because she said if such and such happened she'd eat crow... Actually maybe eating crow is more similar to eating a hat. Who knows? Does anyone reading this know? Anyway, the chat show host ended up eating crow both metaphorically and physically.
...Where was I?
I went to RAK to lend moral support to Fiona, and take photographs of the string session for her solo album, which the world ought to be very excited to hear. Fiona had opted to use a somewhat eccentric line up of players; namely a string octet with two extra violins. They sounded extraordinary. I could never have imagined that ten players could sound so much like a string orchestra. A lot of their success was in Fiona's adept scoring, which involved keeping the 'cellos fairly high and understanding when best to use divisi and unison. And of course the players, all of whom are at the top of their games. All that technical stuff aside, the music was divine. Absolutely stunning. Still, yearning, incredibly sad in places. She uses subtle dissonance to extraordinary effect. She's not scared of space in her music either, which is a great, great skill. Whenever I attend a session of Fiona music my own writing changes very subtly. I thought I was something of an expert, but what she doesn't know about string writing really isn't worth knowing. The session was brilliantly organised as well, and ended forty minutes early! Oh for a session which actually ends early!
It was lovely to see all the players, four of whom had played at our wedding, and many of whom I'd worked with before on projects as diverse as the London Requiem, Songs From Hattersley, Blast! and The Busker Symphony, which has got to be almost ten years old now. Kotono, who played in that particular project was filmed on a rickshaw trundling down Brick Lane. Those were the days when everything I made was merry and camp! Blast! was recorded so long ago that I can't really remember how it goes!