Despite last week’s variable weather – two or three days of miserable rain and some unseasonably chilly weather – spring has suddenly taken a leap forward. It is magical the way the trees suddenly acquire their fresh young leaves and the irises are coming out.
I heard a cuckoo two days ago, today it was much louder. And we are now treated to a raucous choir of frogs every evening, joined later by the sound of owls. No sound of the nightingales, which suddenly started singing in February, thinking it was time, and then were silent. As always I wish I could easily identify the little birds which are darting around in the trees in front of my study window.
I’ve just been to an excellent concert of baroque music, organised by Christine Capieu. Seven musicians of a very high level. I’ve played in the past with all except Stephen, the recorder player, and Nils, the cellist, but frankly they have raised the level of musicianship to a professional level, and I no longer have a place in this group, at least not for concerts. (Anyhow, at present, I still cannot play the cello because of the numbness and sensitivity in the fingers of my left hand). So now I can just enjoy the music as a member of the audience.
The ensemble consists of two wind instruments (flute and recorder), two violins, a bass continuo and harpsichord. As well as well known pieces by Bach and Telemann the programme contained some fascinating pieces by composers I had not heard of, like Babell and Merula. At no time was I bored though; there was an energy and sense of really being an ensemble that was most impressive. OK I could detect one or two slightly dangerous moments and one or two problems of intonation, but I’m quibbling. It was a concert to enjoy from beginning to end.
Nils, the cellist – a Swiss man from Valleraugue – was in a different league from me as bass continuo and had the stamina to be playing pretty well non-stop for nearly 90 minutes. He and William, the flautist, are I think the only two non-professional musicians, but they held their own really well. Stephen Rivers-Moore (English, married to a French woman, known in the village as much for his plumbing skills as his music) was outstanding.