Michael Finnissy Chi Mei Ricercari Tour, Part 1

Senior lecturer Tom Irvine is about to set off for Taiwan where he will hear the premiere of our chair of composition Michael Finnissy’s new pieces for cello and piano.  Tom has promised to send posts throughout the tour but already has one advance report on how things are going:

I’m still here in comparatively wintery Southampton, wondering if I will set off tomorrow as planned given various air-traffic problems in the skies overhead. But Michael Finnissy and Nicola Heinrich, our composer/cellist duo (see my recent post) have made it to Tainan—where it’s 27 degrees and sunny! Today they visited the Chi Mei Culture Foundation to pick cellos to use in the world premieres of Michael’s pieces next week. Nicola wrote a brief report:

celloAfter a Taiwanese breakfast of dumplings, soy sauce, chicken, chilli …the highlight: our trip to the museum to look at/play their instruments. It was all too much to really take in! It took awhile but we settled in the end on the Amati Charles IX Cello from 1566, in beautiful condition with a gorgeous velvety sound (pictured) and the Stradivarius ex-Pawle of 1730—a ‘lady’s cello’ as my host Mr Chung put it, with a very intimate, noble sound. Along the way I got to try another Strad (because one isn’t enough!). And then two Montagnanas, a Goffriller and Gaspar Cassadó’s cello with David Popper’s Nüremberger bow. We also saw Edward Elgar’s violin and Fritz Kreisler’s bow. And a violin with a Lenin head.
After a tasty lunch of Shanghai dumplings–the Taiwanese are always eating well!–we rehearsed in a beautiful private flat on a fantastic Bösendorfer piano. Playing my ‘new friends’ was at first was quite intimidating. I was so worried that I would let the bow (a Nicolaus Kittel worth more than an average house…) drop. But once we got going it felt more and more natural…

A promising beginning!

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