Sunday, August 21, 2005



Salzburg is, of course, the city of the late and great Hungarian violinist, Sandor Vegh, from which musical spring all my influences flow. As a teenager and well into my twenties I spent Aprils and Septembers gazing out of a huge bay window at swirling pools and swelling waves in a Cornish Cove soaking up his personal tales of Brahms, Bartok and Casals and his mispronounced thoughts on the curvaceous world of sound. I played for him and even with him.

"Averysing in nature is carved" (curved)." Look ze waves, zey are carved. Look ze rocks zey are carved. Ze son it is olzo carved. Olvays circles."

"Ze son it is not cutted like macaroni...." (he mimes something long and doughy being issued from his mouth and snips it aggressively into bite-sized pieces) "Naaaa - cutted; naaaah - cutted. No. Ze son, it is a rond gest."

Thursday's Mitridate was a good show. People were listening (when they weren't looking at the dirdnled cleavage leaping up at them over the first row and above their scores). As threads wove within and tracks were trodden through the musical landscape, I had the sensation of combing the underbelly of the singers' sound with my gut and horsehair tools; nourishing the furry flip side of the shiny aria. Our chef bent his baton to express coming rage, blew kisses for tenderness, smacked his face to inspire beligerent accents....

I could feel Vegh's presence. Like a good disciple, I was following in the footsteps of the six-chinned maestro, making circles and waves with my bow, choreographing a sumptious dance of 'carved' sound...... And then I hit upon a problem. In order to turn a page for my desk partner I had to cut a gesture short, make macaroni out of it, and I couldn't do it......

The phrase ends with a question mark; an 'up'; an in-breath. The arm is suspended at the top of the arc, at the end of momentum, just before it drops and re-gathers. There is a moment of stillness which accompanies the silence as it listens for the answering phrase, and turning a page would mean I'd have to break that stillness, go back on a forbidden diagonal and ruin the dance.

What's a gal to do?

"Vy you make macaroni son? " I heard the Maestro whisper in my ear, "Olvays carved, ze son"

"Help! " I thought, as I rested in the pause of the delicious unknown.

Everyone else sensibly and considerately turned their pages whilst my desk partner was resting in the not-so-delicious unknown:

" Turn the page you prima donna" she was thinking. "I don't know what bloody note comes next"

I could hear those around me start to titter.

"What's she doing with her arm up there? Wot a poser!"

The pulsating quavers of the answering phrase started up , without cello four because she was finally turning the page and without cello three because she didn't know what the f*** came next.

Perhaps, after all, there are moments when, in consideration for one's fellow beings and in order not to look like a total plonker, the sound indeed must be cutted into macaroni and the exceptional diagonal must be allowed.

R.I.P Sandor Vegh.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't help but remember David's Prussia Cove limerick:

In a masterclass on some sonatas
Mr. Vegh shouted 'Vere dat B flat is?!'
'Vy your vibrato
Is like a potato?'
'Loooook me vot I do: Dat is!'

7:58 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

oh do give me a clue as to who you are anonymous. you made me laugh and cry. i think i have a hunch.....

1:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Another one for the book, I reckon.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Dale said...


6:10 AM  

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