When you hear the tone of a gut string
, a real gut string
, struck across a hollow body with stretched skin on it, and it resonates, then you know what the blues are.
feel than typical monofilament or synthetic gut strings
Despite feeling the frequent holes in the texture left by the missing vocal parts, there were so many good things here that the whole bizarre exercise proved decidedly worthwhile: the choice of gut strings
imparting an almost basset-horn pastel quality to the sound, the use of authentic "classical" bows permitting a directness of contact which brought an almost operatic intensity to articulation (the "Dies Irae" sounded like a storm from Idomeneo, and the passage where Mozart laid down his pen for the last time was given an extra passion).
As always, the Musicians of the Old Post Road (10 strong for this concert) performed on original or facsimile instruments, so that the authenticity of gut strings
and precursor versions of flute, oboe and bassoon, the sounds of traverso and violone, made it seem, in the words of veteran concertgoer Donald Berth, that "we had been transported to Hampton Court.
Violinist Catherine Scott's seven-piece ensemble often seemed to have difficulty reconciling musical expressivity with the unfamiliarity of, among other things, playing on gut strings
with little or no vibrato.
I used to think the spectrum of today's quartets, from early music specialists playing Haydn on gut strings
to the Kronos playing Jimi Hendrix, would make an interesting television feature.
One of the oldest surviving violins in the world, this lovely artefact with its mellow gut strings
, produces a warmly communicative sound - sometimes melancholy, sometimes ironic - with an almost infinite capacity for nuance and colour.