Weedon’s Wanderings: 28th June 2019



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 you may puzzle (as I did) that his violin has not 4 but 5 strings.

If you prefer your bumble bees in the bass, then you’ll enjoy the astonishing Carol Williams putting her best feet forward, playing the piece on organ pedals! And note where she’s playing it too (see my blog of 11th June 2019).

Phew! Time for a change of species, I think. Vaughan Williams produces an excellent zzzZZZzzz sound in his Wasps Overture, beautifully realised by Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra. 

But my personal favourite, and a piece I’ve adored since I was knee-high to a Gad-fly (cue Nicola Benedetto playing Shostakovich) is Strauss’s Dragonfly, here captured beautifully by K&K Philharmoniker and Ballet.  

Time for me to buzz off now. How time flies!

Photo: Wikipedia