Grace Notes: Music of the Week – October 10th

Welcome back to Music of the Week. This week I’d like to share two more pieces of music that I have been enjoying.

The first piece is by  J.S. Bach and it is the first of his sonatas for solo violin. It’s in the key of G minor, giving it a very dark tone throughout. I am currently studying the Fugue movement (the second movement) with my teacher at Trinity, and I have previously played the other three as well. I find that Bach is very challenging to learn and perform because there are so many different ways to interpret the piece and often the listener (or worse examiner) will have a different idea of how it should be played to how you actually want to play it… That being said, I love how you can put your own take on this music and through studying and practice it becomes your own.

My favourite movement is the Adagio opening. It’s in G minor (which sits really nicely on the violin) and it’s full of beautiful chord patterns and improvisatory passages. The fugue is very complicated with all of the different voices weaving in and out of each other creating a beautiful flowing texture (it messes with your brain a little trying to play three voices with one hand!). The Siciliana is a lilting sea-like dance (originating from the island of Sicily ) followed by a fast and exciting Presto to end the whole sonata in a blaze of semiquavers.

Below is a version of this sonata by Ruggiero Ricci. This is the first recording I ever heard of solo Bach (my dad has an old LP of it) and it’s beautiful. Made even more impressive by the fact that it was done in a single take!

The second piece I want to share for  with you is something completely different. It is called ‘Ballad of the Great Eastern’ and if from Sting’s new album ‘The Last Ship’. The whole album is fantastic but this song particularly stuck with me because it’s so haunting (both in lyrics and melody). The album itself is inspired by a musical of the same name that Sting wrote the song for. It’s about a shipyard, drawing on his own experiences of growing up in Wallsend. Many of the songs from the album appear in the stage play, but a few have not been included such as the one below. I’d seriously recommend the whole album (the Deluxe version if you can get your hands on it) as I think the songs are all beautiful and manage to tell a story, without sounding too ‘musical’. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!