Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Erbarme Dich, and my poor ear

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Thank you Mr Bach

Apart from the fact that I am almost completely deaf in my left ear, it was a very good first day back to normal teaching! All the flying in the time I was away plays havoc with my ears. One of the reasons I had to retire from the Academy was due to the relentless flying each week, for 5 years. Now flying too much within a short period brings back the ear pain and blockage.

Thus, teaching with a blocked ear causes pressure on the ear drum, and any note from C above middle C to the F above is like an Exocet missile hitting my inner ear, especially if it is well placed, and resonantly forward! So pupils, the better the singing, the more torturous the agony! I am indeed the victim of my own success!

Bach. The man. The great man. The most taxing of composers for he voice. He treats the human voice as just another 'mechanical' instrument, with all the flexibility that entails. Except we as singers are NOT instruments, so the intricacies and technical facility his music demands is at the outer edge of manageable, especially if one wants to do the sublime music justice!

My true and dark chocolate contralto is making a brilliant and brave job of the glorious 'Erbarme dich ' from the Matthew Passion. She works like a Trojan, listens with fine ears to the tricky intervals, and has now more or less progressed to singing it with me playing as much as I can of the violin obligato which twists and winds in a quite heavenly way, but in no way helps the already viciously difficult vocal line. She deserves a medal, it is around 15 years since I have taught this fiendish but delicious aria. It needs total concentration, great confidence and much musicality to sing well !

Magnificent job that woman!

Link to Julia Hamari singing it. Quite old but utterly glorious!


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