Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Catherine Mackintosh: Speed Interview

Fri 4 Mar 2011

Catherine Mackintosh, an OAE violinist and ex leader, will be taking part in our The other amazing Mr Bach study day tomorrow, playing and talking about CPE Bach’s Trio Sonata Sanguineas and Melancholius. Here’s our speed interview with her:

What/when was your big breakthrough?
My breakthroughs have been many but small.  A very early one was playing the One Note in Purcell’s Fantasy of that name with the members of the Melos Ensemble as a teenager. Emmanuel Hurwitz was then very helpful to me. Becoming leader of the Academy of Ancient Music in 1973 was also a huge career step for me.

What do you fear the most?
Snakes, without a doubt and anything bad happening to my family. Not too keen on the idea of death either.

Which mobile number do you call the most?
As my husband hardly ever uses his mobile, I expect it’s Philippa’s (OAE Orchestra Manager).

What – or where – is perfection?
I have never been in pursuit of it actually because, if it exists, or is discovered, it is all the more astonishing for being unsought.  Sitting in front of a roaring log fire in our house in France comes pretty close I must admit.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Aunt Dahlia from the works of PG Wodehouse. She is described by her nephew, Bertie Wooster as “a festive old bird” and now I have reached a certain age, I cannot imagine a better state to emulate.

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Happy / Sad (OAE players revealed)

Fri 4 Mar 2011

So the previous post clearly stumped you, though someone over on Facebook did guess one correctly! Both are violinists, with Catherine Mackintosh on the left in the ‘happy’ mask and Matthew Truscortt in the ‘grumpy’ mask. So what’s with the masks you might ask? Well, as part of our The other amazing Mr Bach CPE Bach study day tomorrow, Catherine and Matthew, along with Steven Devine (harpsichord) and Jonathan Manson (cello), are performing CPE Bach’s Trio Sonata Sanguineas and Melancholius. Back in his time it was thought that the human body was filled with four substances (humors), which in balance made for a healthy person. The ancient names for these are Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, with the theory being known as humorism.

Each of the humors has a characteristic, so Sanguineas is a lively, fun, bubbly and vivacious character. On the other hand Melancholius is a rather dour, sad and pessimistic individual. In CPE Bach’s piece (which is being performed in the afternoon session of our study day, together with a discussion after) the two violins play these characters, hence the masks, which yes, will get worn for the performance.

Sanguineas has a chirpy upbeat little melody, while Melancholius’s tune is slow, sad and long. Sanguineas constantly tries to cheer Melancholius up, interrupting his melody and being relentlessly upbeat. Eventually the upbeat nature of Sanguineas wins and the two end up playing the same tune. It’s CPE Bach’s only piece of programmatic music (i.e. music which evokes a non musical source, such as a story or poem) and really is a fasinating and quirky little piece.

Come and hear it and enjoy the battle of happy and sad at the Purcell Room on Saturday at 2pm. There’s also a 10.30am Session which focuses more on musicology and context for CPE bach’s music.

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