I am quite proud and kind of pleased to present my first professional recording — my own arrangement of J.S. Bach’s lute suite BWV 995/cello suite Nr. 5 BWV 1011 for a melody instrument and basso continuo.
I realized this arrangement for my final exam at Seville’s conservatory, Conservatorio Superior de Música de Sevilla, which took place in September 2015. It was a bit tricky, for being the original piece for one solo instrument, and me wanting it to become a piece for an ensemble. This is why I approached my work from the lute version instead of the cello version (the composer himself arranged the lute suite from the cello suite Nr.5 BWV 1011), as Bach included many bass lines in BWV 995. So, after transcribing the piece from the original facsimile, I separated bass and upper line, octavated where necessary and composed parts to the bass line in order to supplement it where it was too empty. I sticked to baroque style all I possibly could, and respected the implicit harmony.
Why this suite? And why arrange a piece which is not for my instrument?
I fell in love with this suite listening to Rolf Lislevand’s interpretation, especially of the Sarabande, which for me is one of the most astonishing melodies in Bach’s repertoire. So, I wanted to play this music, but not for solo recorder, which already had been done very convincing- and successfully by Marion Verbrüggen and others. I felt like doing a different, a accompanied version.
I didn’t pretend to achieve a better version than Bach’s BWV 995 and 1011, as well as I didn’t pretend that an ensemble version of this composition could work better than the solo versions. I simply felt free to live out my idea on a repertoire which nowadays is sometimes treated in a very strict way, while this music hasn’t been treated in that way at all when it was contemporary. As Vicente Parrilla pointed out to me one day, arrangements, improvisation, diminutions etc. are justified and desirable if we, as interprets of early music, want to do what the musician from earlier epochs would have done, and not only what we know what they have done. Compositions were not considered a closed, genius art work as in later epochs. Musicians were supposed to be creative, to improvise and ornament and arrange. This means for us, as early musicians, that a finite repertory passes to infinite possibilities. And, ‘the harder we work to imitate the past, the more personal and contemporary the results will be.’ —Bruce Haynes in The End of Early Music
Soon I’m going to publish the sheet music of my arrangement with a creative commons license, so that anybody who may want to play my arrangement or just have a look at what I exactly did, can do so. It can, of course, be played by any melody instrument (violin, oboe, recorder, traverso…) and b.c. Critics and suggestions will be very welcome 🙂
The very act of recording
As I said, this has been my first professional recording, and… I don’t like recording! I feel it is an unnatural thing, in an unnatural surrounding. It makes me very nervous, even though I know I can repeat the same thing many times. It doesn’t quite seem to get the same emotion and excitement to it as live performed music in front of an audience.
I will write a post on some of my thoughts and feelings about recording in general very soon, of course to be published here on this website.
This suite forms part of a program on J.S. Bach’s music, next to an instrumental version with my own variations on the song Komm süsser Tod and a canon from The art of Fugue. I’ll think about recording the rest of it and finish a whole CD, but that again depends on money and on how things go this year.
Now, I’m going to start working on a new program, I’m going to be diminuting! 🙂 Hopefully to be recorded next summer, this time a whole CD for sure!
I am incredibly lucky and thankful for all the help I received, without which this work wouldn’t have been possible, or at least with loads more difficulties and a far worse result.
Thank you so much to Ventura Rico and Alejandro Casal for all their generosity as much when they were my teachers at Seville’s Conservatory, as in the recording, as for helping me with the arrangement, as in the rehearsals!
Thank you to Bárbara Sela for being there for me, and for her artistic direction, without which the recording would have been much longer and chaotic!
Thank you to Adolfo Castilla for his work and the nice atmosphere in the studio!
The biggest thank you though will always go to Vicente Parrilla. In this case as well for all his help as my tutor for the arrangement and the paper for my final exam, but still more so for everything he taught me when he was my teacher, for his knowledge, technique and musicality, his philosophical point of view on music and so many more things.
Last thank you to Ruth, Roland & Hanna! Just for everything!
As in the early music scene we like to point out the similarities between early music and jazz in terms of conception of the music (improvisations, variations, creativity, openness of the repertory…) would/should this statement have to refer to us as well?
‘If a Jazz musician plays someone else’s tune, he has a responsibility to make a distinct & original statement’ —Todd Boyd
Rehearsal of ‘Ya sabía que debía haber algún error’
Last 23rd & 24th of February I was happy to play next to Bárbara Sela and Alejandra Fernández in a contemporary dance performance at Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. The event was organized by Asociación PAD and there were 3 different choreographies directed by 3 different dancers. I worked with Juan Luis Matilla in his ‘Ya sabía que debía haber algún error’ (I already knew there had to be some mistake), a performance based entirely on improvisation, both for the dancers, as for the musicians and for the director. There were established signs Juan Luis could use to move dancers or musicians in a specific direction, stop us or change to a different character, and from there on it was improvised by us performers. It’s been a great experience, especially from the point of view of early or classical music where everything seems to be (normally) very strict and people (normally) expect perfection. Here, one did feel free in his expression and I loved that the performances would never be the same and how you always stay curious about what might happen next. I hope to be able to participate more in multidisciplinary performances for I enjoyed it a lot, learned a lot and I am sure there is still a lot more to discover. A big thank you to everyone involved, but especially to Junalu for his great ideas, for being a great director and person, and to Bárbara Sela without whom I wouldn’t have been there!
Milena Cord-to-Krax | Sofia Chekalina | César Queruz
Last 21-12-15 I played a concert in Berlin with Sofia Chekalina (baroque cello) and César Queruz (tiorba) at KiezKulturWerkstadt. It was the first time for me to travel to Berlin and I had spoken with César via eMail, but we only got to know each other 3 days before the concert. His teacher Björn Collel kindly put us into contact after I asked him whether he knew anybody who would like to play with me at my friend’s, Javi Vela’s, small and very beautiful stage in Berlin-Charlottenburg. In the end we performed as a trio, as Sofia joined us. Everything worked out fine and we had a good time. I hope we’ll repeat. 🙂
Milena Cord-to-Krax, recorder | Johanna Rose, viella
Earlier this month, I was lucky to get to perform with excellent viol player Johanna Rose. This piece forms part of a medieval music duo program:
La dolçce sere
Medieval Italy around 1400: names such as Ciconia or Landini, famous and celebrated composers in their time, often seem to be quite unknown to lovers of early music nowadays. Through ballatas, madrigals and virtuously ornamented pieces from the Faenza Codex we invite you to have a little look into a surprising repertory of particular beauty!
San Roque – original photo by RaMaOrLi (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Next week, 09/04/15, I’m going to play a duo concert with Alejandro Casal (organ) in a village in Southern Spain –San Roque– next to Gibraltar. I am very happy about the program, since this music is one of my favorites and quite rarely chosen by programmers: 16th century diminutions on madrigals. Next to diminutions by Ortiz, Bovicelli, Rognioni & Bassano there’ll be 2 diminutions by myself, one of them will be premiered that day. ☺