Matthew Barley/Cellist

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.

Victor Hugo

Recording Ravel with an Oud player

i was invited to take part in one of Radio 3’s Late Junction Sessions earlier this week, and so found myself in a BBC studio with Khyam Allami, a talented Iraqi oud player, who I had never met! This is all part of the deal for this particular programme… We had the challenge of recording original material in just 8 hours to be broadcast on the station’s legendary Late Junction programme. Khyam is a fantastic player – very instinctive and a wonderful improviser, and we enjoyed the sessions enormously. One of the things we did was to play around with some phrases of a movement of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit – my favourite of his piano pieces. The original piece has a pulsing Bb throughout the movement which depicts the swinging of a corpse from the hangman’s noose – originally called Le Gibet we called it UnRavelling The Gallows. We made two other pieces, one called Dark Blue, which, with the help of some fantastic bass pedals from Crawford Blair, was dark indeed – I think we got a really good sound together. The programme will be broadcast next Thursday introduced by Fiona Talkington at 11.15pm, and will be available for a month as a podcast. Check the Radio 3 website for details.

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