Today’s class went well enough from a repertoire point of view. It seems like I’m generally alright with orchestral excerpts, and managed Strauss’s Salome without too much negative feedback. The main point, as always in Trevor’s excerpt sessions, is an incredible precision of rhythm, along with a knowledge of what’s going on in the orchestral parts beneath.

I also felt that my Minuets I & II from Bach’s C major sonata were well enough prepared and thought through that we could engage in a discussion of the music rather than my failings as a flautist! We discussed duration of notes, placement of slurs, and methods for ornamenting the repeat. Trevor’s advice on the final one was to be a bit cheeky or cunning; plan something out but not necessarily in the way that one would expect. It certainly shouldn’t sound like it’s been practised, and the best way to arrive at good baroque ornamentation is often to improvise to the extreme and then take away the bits that sound too much! This does, of course, mean that one needs to practise improvising though.

The rest of the class on Bach was really interesting, and I genuinely felt much better equipped to tackle a sonata by the end of it. I’ve tended to steer clear of Bach in recent years, as it always seems such a minefield of opinions and musical dos and don’ts. Trevor didn’t talk so much about ‘performance practice’ as what can be gleaned from looking at the facts of the score and using our own musical judgement. He also stressed the importance of a clear tempo relationship between all movements of a sonata – if an allegro movement can’t be played in good relationship with the andante then the andante probably needs to go faster!

Trevor quite likes picking a way of stirring someone (often me) a bit, and today chose the fact that Roya and I have masters degrees as his prodding point. Every other comment was followed by “but the masters will know this already” or a pointed question in our direction. This one though, I didn’t mind too much – he didn’t actually bother to ask until lunchtime about what my masters entailed, and when I went through my recital programs he did listen without any snarky remarks about new music. By the end of the day, the master-ness or lack of (Trevor didn’t go to uni/college at all) had grown into a joke for everyone.

Our repertoire for next week is Fukushima’s Mei, which I’m excited about working on. It’s a lovely piece, and I’ve been wanting to have a look at it for a while. Though performing contemporary music for Trevor will leave me wide open for cutting remarks, I also hope that I can apply some of what I’ve learned over the previous months to music that really inspires me.

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