This album was recorded in one day in London, England. The ideal acoustics of Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel in the center of Hampstead were wonderful for a violin and piano performance, which meant no alteration to the sound of the CD was necessary. No reverb was added nor was there any doctoring of the actual sound or balance. It was also done with minimal editing as it was important to me to get the natural flow of the music without too much interruption due to cutting in and out. With that in mind, though the performance is not perfect, I am pleased (as much as one can be when judging one's own performance) with the energy of the recording.
The tale surrounding this recording is a good one. The week we were in London happened to be the week that terrorists tried to smuggle liquid nitrogen onto a plane out of Heathrow airport. (Curses!!) This unfortunate drama began on Thursday. The recording was scheduled for Monday, and I was returning to America on Tuesday. The already disorganized Heathrow promptly turned into a refugee camp as all flights were canceled. People were camping out for days and to my horror, no one was allowed any carry-on luggage. My first thought was, “What to do with the violin when I fly back to the states?”
There were not many options. (Paula and I were flooded with e-mails from people in Tucson worried about how the violin was going to get back, which of course did not make preparing a recording session any easier. This well intentioned concern only added to the stress of the situation.) Anyway, after visiting a violin shop and being talked into buying a very expensive Bam case, I decided to find a huge suitcase in which the violin, with its new case, could be placed. The nice people at the shop also recommended knocking down the sound post just to be safe. (As any violinist will tell you, knocking down a sound post is not something you really want to do. My first thought after that suggestions was, “S**T!”)
Paula and I began walking through London trying to find a suitcase, which lead to us telling the story over and over again and getting very frustrated as it became clear that finding a suitcase large enough was mission impossible. (Throughout this long and involved expedition, all I could think about was how I would have rather been practicing.) Paula and I came to the conclusion that suitcases were definitely not meant to carry large violin cases, and if they were big enough to fit the violin they were extremely flimsy. This prompted us to buy three stores out of their supply of bubble wrap. Most people looked at me as if I was the ultimate Drama Queen as they seemed to always have some story about someone’s guitar that was fine when checked underneath the plane and so on and so forth. Their sensitivity to this situation left a lot to be desired!
Well, fast forward to Tuesday. I arrive at Heathrow thinking I would be able to talk them into letting me take the violin on the plane. Unfortunately, security agents were immune to my charm and compelling arguments. So, there I was standing in line for two hours waiting to check in, knocking the sound post out of my treasured Lupot in the middle of an airport! Luckily there were quite a few people who made it their mission to help me get the violin across in one piece. (In retrospect, I think they were just glad to have something to do.) It’s not easy wrapping a violin case in 30 yards of bubble wrap while standing in a security line at a totally overcrowded airport, but with the team effort, we got it done.
Heathrow airport has a very nice service of hand placing fragile items onto the plane. Sadly, I don’t think Chicago got the memo, because the first piece of luggage to come tumbling down the carousel was the suitcase with the violin. My heart stopped and I think I was officially dead for 15 seconds. I began immediately ripping through bubble wrap to get the violin out (once I was in America I was allowed to take the instrument with me on the plane). It was in one piece, and I was actually able to enjoy the rest of the trip. It took about two months to get the violin adjusted correctly, but it actually ended up sounding better than before.
As they say: “All’s well that ends well.”
I hope you enjoy the CD.
- Steven Moeckel