Friday, August 03, 2007

Notes from Rehearsal

Dateline: Seattle. Tallis Scholars Summer School
We've been working on a second arrangment of the Lotti piece, Crucifixus à 10 (ten separate voice parts). Peter Phillips was very excited - well, excited is not quite the word for this very measured and thoughtful man - but he was eager to hear us read through it. He had just found this version, had never heard it performed nor found a recording of it. So we sang it aloud, allowing everyone to hear it for the first time. Phillips decided that it is interesting enough to perform along with the 8-part version. "I think Lotti was having fun when he wrote this - it sounds like an experimental piece."

Yesterday, as we rehearsed it, Peter was conducting and tutor David Woodcock was observing and listening from a seat behind him. Finally, his face like a storm cloud, David strode to the podium and whispered furiously to Peter. Phillips turned to us and said "He's really cross. He doesn't like the crescendo/decrescendos in the brackets, nor the ritard marked at the cadence." Woodcock retorted "It goes against everything we have been saying all week. Where's the phrase going?!" Peter said plaintively, "Well, it's the only edition I could find, anywhere in the world."

I had not understood, before working with them, why this group calls themselves the Tallis Scholars. In fact, these kinds of passionate but good-hearted debates go on all the time, as they struggle to determine what is truly an "authentic" score as the composer would have written it, and which are "unauthentic" markings that have been added later, by editors. Several of the pieces we will be singing in the concert are editions edited by Peter Phillips or Andrew Carwood, who have researched the pieces and reached a determination of how they believe the score should read.

Twice today, Peter said "Well done." High praise. We're getting there.

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