Pianos, wolves, and absolute focus

Pianos, wolves, and absolute focus

As I was getting ready this morning, I found myself humming something which I couldn’t immediately identify. After a few minutes, I finally realised what it was: the first movement of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no.2 in C minor (sometimes affectionately referred to by pianists as “Rach 2”.) I first properly took notice of this beautiful piece when I heard it performed by the extraordinary French pianist Hélène Grimaud. Here’s the link below: Hélène, in my opinion, is one of the absolute top-tier modern-day classical pianists, because of her sheer depth of expression as well as an extraordinary physical facility. Her playing reminds me of Glenn Gould in that it’s very unafraid to be idiosyncratic and individual. The first time I heard her – and seriously paid attention – was several years ago, when I heard Thomas Quasthoff’s rendition of Schumann’s “Hör Ich Das Liedchen Klingen” from his Dichterliebe song cycle. Quasthoff’s voice is on absolute top form, but in addition to a superb vocal performance, I was absolutely blown away by the sheer control and musicality of the rubato in the piano accompaniment and immediately made a note to check out more of her playing. Here’s the video below for anybody that’s curious: One thing I’ve noticed is that whenever I become seriously interested in something, I tend to absorb myself very deeply into whatever the subject matter is and read voraciously on whatever the subject might be. I’ll tear through interviews, read articles and watch YouTube documentaries on everything I can find. Having become thus entranced by her playing so far, I found myself trawling YouTube for more of...
The slow death of curiosity, and what we can do about it

The slow death of curiosity, and what we can do about it

“Curiosity killed the cat”. I heard this phrase today, and immediately stopped what I was doing. For some reason, it had never occurred to me just what an awful, insipid little adage that is. What, now we really think about it, is the intended moral behind this seemingly innocuous saying? Right off the bat, unfortunately, it’s not a great start for poor old curiosity. In four words, we’re taught – via this sad little aphorism – that this virtue is not to be trusted after all. Let’s face it, the example we’re actually being given here amounts to: “the cat was curious and look what happened to him, so do you really think you’re going to do any better? Don’t be curious. Don’t try things.” Nor is that the only example of the decline of curiosity. What about the account of Pandora’s Box? In this tale of Greek mythology, Pandora (the first woman on earth) is given, by the gods, a wedding present of a beautiful jar. There’s a catch – she is not, under any circumstances, to open it up. Of course, sooner or later, her curiosity (presumably instilled in her by these same gods and goddesses) gets the better of her, and she ends up opening it, thereby (unwittingly) releasing all evil into the world. Yet again, curiosity is apparently the one to let the side down. It doesn’t stop at Greek mythology, either. In the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, God tells Lot and his wife that he plans to destroy the city of Sodom, and that they must leave immediately if they wish to stay alive...

First post, and back from France!

Hi folks, After successfully procrastinating for a good four years, I’ve finally managed to get around to setting up my own blog! This may, however, have been poor timing as I’m going to have to migrate across to different hosting in a couple of weeks, so with any luck my tech skills will be up to the job. If not, I’ll have to re-create from scratch… I actually created a good 80% of this site whilst on a recent trip visiting family in France, but the tidying up is now (mostly!) done and the site is live! I’m wondering if there’s a decent way to embed a lightbox-enabled Flickr plugin into blog posts so that you guys can view photos without having to move anywhere, but in the meantime, if you’re interested, you can see a selection of some photos from my trip to France here. I created the blog for a couple of reasons: I’m in the very fortunate position right now where I’m able to play music, travel, and get paid for it. (Right now, I have a few weeks free until I get back on the boat at the end of July.) Rather than have family members asking the same questions all the time, I thought it would just be easier to create a blog where I can upload photos and videos of what I’m doing, and also write about anything cool that happens on the way. That way, they can keep up to date on a daily basis, and I’ll also have a future record of what I’ve done so I can look back myself and...