Sunday 21 February 2016

A synergy of colour & music in Berlin

A Synergy of Colour & Music in Berlin

Even though the great Yehudi Menuhin has passed on, his music and his voice will always be an inspiration to me. I hear it in my head every time I walk into my studio. Twenty-five years ago Yehudi's left this voice-mail message for me, that was later included in the BBC film about my work Concerto for Paintbrush and Orchestra. I still find the sound of his kind voice incredibly moving.

Yehudi was a visionary. He was not only very supportive of my watercolours, but he understood how I was trying to bring art and music together in a new art form. In fact he was the first major musician to ask me to create paintings live on French Television to his performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, filmed by the legendary Bruno Monsaingeon in 1979. 

Now Daniel Hope, after his lifelong personal friendship with Yehudi, has wondrously brought us all together again with a concert of music and painting, together with pianist Sebastian Knauer, for the centenary Homage to Yehudi Menuhin in Konzerthaus Berlin, on April 25th. Our concert Live: Musik und Malerei, will include discussion on the powerful synergy of colour and music. 

In Daniel's book Sounds of Hollywood he explains how that in the early nineteen-thirties composer Max Steiner was given the opportunity to compose and commission music that would underscore the emotions and dynamics of movies throughout the whole film - a major development towards what we now know as "film-music", music that now plays a leading dramatic role in all movies. I am doing exactly the reverse, creating synchronized kinetic images to underscore and elucidate the emotions, drama and structure of the music, in this case William Walton's Sonata for Violin and Piano. 

Jeremy Grimshaw writes of this work: "The one of the most unusual and bittersweet in music history. Beginning in the mid-1930s, Walton enjoyed the close romantic companionship of Alice Wimborne, a prominent music patroness. On their way to a vacation in Capri in 1947, Lady Wimborne became ill (it turned out to be cancer) and required immediate treatment. By chance, Walton met the wife of violinist Yehudi Menuhin on a train, who offered to pay for the emergency treatment. As a gesture of gratitude, Walton offered to compose a work for violin and piano to be performed by Yehudi and the husband of his wife's sister, the pianist Louis Kentner. The story gets even more intriguing from there: by the time the work was finished the following year, Lady Wimborne had passed away and Walton had married. Thus, it is not without reason that his biographers hear in this work a strange and poignant mixture of romantic lyricism, elegiac sorrow, and optimistic contentment". 
These are precisely the characteristics that I hope to reflect in my choice of colours and graphic choreography for Walton's wonderful Sonata. Here are a few stills from my kinetic painting. 

See you in Berlin!