Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Luvvies no stranger

Ben Dawson, our popular visitor from last November reprised his tour of the south-west with another three-night stopover to escape London, and as he puts it “drink wine, play scrabble and ride a tractor”.Ben & Mike

Last time Ben was rehearsing for a tour of Howard Blake’s The Snowman ballet in Finland. This time he’s preparing the piano accompaniment for some Rachmaninov songs. He suggested I try a few of these (playing not singing!) and I find some passages remind me of much more recent pieces and can’t help but warble “And love is a stranger / who’ll beckon you on” – which tickles Ben’s imagination as he discovers that this couplet can be sung to all of the Rachmaninov pieces he’s brought with him.

Time is a funny thing – there’s only a half century between Rachmaninov publishing these pieces and Nancy Sinatra singing You Only Live Twice for the Bond film of that name in 1967, and it’s nearly as long ago for that now. Ten years later, Eric Carmen was using other Rachmaninov melodies to his profit.
It’s a miracle I was able to play anything as my fingers have not had a good month betwixt chilblains and various slashes and gashes during yardwork.

After that Ben was running through some party trick of playing Away in a Manger in the style of various composers such as Prokofiev. I asked him to play Rhapsody in Blue in the style of Arvo Pärt, which is definitely for connoisseurs of the obscure.
Munson and dish-cleaning for three

Munson again lucked out with extra dishes for the evening, not two but three dinner plates, and a couple of baking dishes.

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