Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The Gondal Trio

Paolo Mencarelli writes:

My great passion for the Brontë sisters originated by chance from a desire to deepen my knowledge of female literature. English literature, from this point of view, is full of extraordinary examples: Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf to mention only a few, and the Brontë sisters, of whom until 2006 I had never read anything.

I started with Jane Eyre, a novel that impressed me deeply for the extraordinary character of the protagonist and her moral strength. After this, I continued with another enchanting Charlotte Brontë novel - Villette, then The Professor, Shirley and (with growing interest and passion) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne - and finally Emily’s poems.

These, in particular, struck me so much that I decided to postpone my reading of Wuthering Heights until August 11, 2007, at Haworth, after coming back from a wonderful walk on the moors.

This interior path urged me to involve my literary experiences also in my daily life. I am a cellist and together with my wife, Maddalena, a violinist, I am a permanent member of the orchestra of the theatre La Fenice in Venice. Our life-long interest in music prompted us to develop other experiences besides that in the orchestra and so, many years ago, we founded a piano trio. Recently we had to find another pianist for our group, and so, while looking for the name of our new trio, it was natural for me to suggest 'Gondal'.

The idea was accepted with great enthusiasm, since our new pianist, whose name is also Maddalena, is very fond of English Literature: she has prepared a dissertation on Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and a doctoral dissertation on the vocal chamber music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gerald Finzi.

The repertoire of our Gondal trio is mainly Romantic, centred on the trios of Brahms and Mendelssohn (our favourite) and for the next year we have many projects including the performance of the entire chamber music production of Beethoven next spring and the trios of Dvorak and Villa-Lobos.

I would like to spend a few words on my recent visit to Haworth in August with my wife. We arrived Friday 10 and we stayed in a nice B&B near Main Street.

The following day we went to St Michael's and All Angels. I was a bit excited when I crossed the threshold of the church. Inside there were only two people: a woman polishing the brass and the organist. The atmosphere, in that absolute silence interrupted only by the wonderful playing of the organ and the view of the beautiful stained glass windows was really breathtaking. At 10.30 am we started our walk to Top Withins and the Brontë Waterfalls. The pathway on the moors was enchanting: the heather was blooming and the wind modified in a few seconds the colours of a bright blue sky covered by dark and white clouds.

On Sunday 12 August we went to the Parsonage Museum. It’s difficult to forget the emotion of the visit. To look at the dining room with the black sofa, Emily’s piano, the small dress and Charlotte’s shoes, Branwell’s paintings, the wonderful embroideries of the sisters, the brooches, the pins and all those photographs was something really interesting and touching.

Two memorable days, but too, too short! Many things still remain to be seen and discovered ..... we will surely come back!

Below, pictures of us, of La Fenice, Top Withins in the distance and a patch of wild Rosebay Willow Herb:

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