June 2019

Weedon’s Wanderings: 28th June 2019

Bee

COME FLY WITH ME...

There’s been quite a buzz in the air today, with insects in profusion in our summer garden. It occurred to me how many pieces of music have been inspired by such winged creatures - from Butterflies in the Rain (here on piano roll) to The Grasshopper’s Dance (played by the lovely Ensemble Tiffany).

For musicians aiming to impress with their virtuosity, Rimsky Korsakof’s ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ can be hard to beat. I’ve found three extraordinary examples of this particular work. The first is pianist Sunny Li performing it on two grand pianos simultaneously.

In July 2011, Canadian violinist Eric Speed (and I’m not making his name up) set a new world record when he played the same piece in 53 seconds.  But his record fell again to speed violinist Ben Lee, in April 2014. Watch Lee here, and...

Weedon’s Wanderings: 15th June 2019

Noel Coward

KEEP CALM AND COWARDY?

We’ve just taken a midsummer walk wrapped in scarves and raincoats, squelching through mud as the brief spell of sun disappears, before heading home to listen to the news. Those we met on our outing sighed and frowned and generally added to the feeling of damp despondency. And me? I started singing a song which always cheers me up. It’s by the incomparable Noel Coward and it could have been written yesterday. So pour yourself a warming cup, snuggle in your armchair and have a listen here. There you are - it was all just as bad in 1952 :-).

Can’t hear the lyrics? Find them here.

Weedon’s Wanderings: 11th June 2019

The huge Möller Organ, West Point

WHEN HUGE MEANS TRAGIC

At this time when many have been commemorating D-Day, featuring this instrument seems rather appropriate. It’s the world’s largest pipe organ in a place of worship, with 23,511 pipes and 874 speaking stops. And it’s to be found in the Cadet Chapel, West Point Military Academy, USA.

But why is its immense size so sad? Well, when it was first built by Möller in 1911, it’s proportions were far smaller. Whilst visiting it, my brother was told how it has been expanded and further expanded over the years, as bereaved families donated a rank of pipes in memory of their military loved ones who had been killed in action. That seems as telling as rows of grave-stones or clouds of ceramic poppies.

The console is sited, unusually, at ground level, as you will see in this video of an organist (un-named, but it looks like...