Wednesday, 22 June 2011
In Search of Haydn - the Endellion String Quartet - St. George's Bristol
These are the days I like best: today I filmed the Endellion String Quartet playing Haydn extracts / complete movements for IN SEARCH OF HAYDN. We decided that the best location for acoustic reasons was St George’s in Bristol. Chris (the sound recordist) and I travelled up late the night before to make sure we were bright & breezy for the day ahead… The day actually started with a fascinating and very useful interview with David Wyn Jones – an acknowledged expert on Haydn’s life. These are the guys that make me look good! Really all I have to do is point the camera in his direction and ask sensible, interested questions. He was an articulate, treasure trove of information and, while I need to guard against too many British historians dotted throughout the film, I know I’ll use him. It’s always more exciting to do the interviews late in the process too as (1) your questions are more focussed but (2) you can immediately see where parts of answers will slot straight into the film. Phil Reynolds (the genius editor) and I have been editing the film for three weeks, mainly working on the musical moments, but now we can start laying in the narrative moments. All very exciting. My only concerns are that I’ll run out of time before examining every avenue but that’s always the case with any film. It’s also the downside of the struggle to raise funds – I can’t afford a full-time researcher for instance (which we always used to have on projects).
Anyway, after the interview, we set up for the recording of the music. The Endellion had wisely suggested we use a company called Classic Sound to help on this one – as the sound of a quartet has to be very carefully recorded. I have to say that Classic Sound were fantastic and we let them sort out the mics (only 4 are used, hanging above the quartet). By 1pm we were ready to start filming and for five hours I had the absolute pleasure of filming 10 different pieces – all of them gorgeous to listen to and gorgeous (I think anyway) to look at. The Endellion are not only at the top of the field musically but are great to film too – expressive, active, emotive. For those of you interested, the pieces (in extracts of maybe three minutes) we chose to film were Opus 20/4 (3rd movement), Opus 20/6 (2nd and 4th), Opus 33 /2 (finale), Opus 54/2 (slow movement), Opus 64/5 (1st movement), Opus 74/3 (finale), Opus 76/1 (first – all for the DVD extras !), Opus 76/3 (slow – the German National Anthem tune), Opus 77/2 (3rd). We finished bang on 7pm and went for a well-deserved meal…and I clung tight to my rushes knowing I had struck gold. More good news: the Endellion will ‘open’ for the world premiere of IN SEARCH OF HAYDN at the Barbican in January. They will play 76/1 and then the film will run. That’s brilliant – what a night it could be. See you there….