Friday, 19 October 2007

Gig-a-Blog™ (Kim Mackrell & Roy Stratford, St Anne & St Agnes)

Friday 19 October: Kim Mackrell cello; Roy Stratford, piano. Bach: Sonata No 1 in G Major; Poulenc: Sonata.

The church seems strangely quiet today - or is it just that I'm uncharacteristically early, having gone round via Barbican Chimes to buy something? No, it does seem down a little.

Roy Stratford does excellent introductions.

Bach: Sonata No 1 in G Major (a gamba sonata from the Cöthen years)

  1. Adagio: Sunny, poised. Gets a bit outré towards the middle but all settles down again.
  2. Allegro: Jolly, bouncy. Once or twice I felt a little lost in the piano's stream of semiquavers so I had a moment's trouble following the cello line. I think/hope this was the result of my late night rather than something that Bach or the performers did.
  3. Andante: Sparse yet warm, wonderful.
  4. Allegro moderato: busy - I’m still having some trouble hearing the cello. Hmmm.

Poulenc: Sonata - Written for Fournier in 1949 (or was it premièred then?) says Roy Stratford in another good intro. I like it when the performers chat to the punters. Should it be compulsory? (Think carefully about some musicians you know before answering that question.)

  1. Allegro: Bright, assertive, complex.
  2. Cavatine: Gorgeous long flowing melodies, quite passionate at times. I felt that we got to hear the cello more properly during this movement.
  3. Ballabile: "like a slightly crazy dance" says Stratford and he's not wrong. Almost Keystone-cops-like at times. But rescued from the foolishness by some beautiful melodic writing
  4. Finale: - Jig with "unexpectedly serious ending." Dramatic intro with wonderful cello harmonics: then off we go. Quite intense, driven: I'm not sure I'd call it a jig because it seemed so unrelaxed. But hey. An exciting performance. I am afraid the ending and its unexpected seriousness passed me by a bit: I was quite badly distracted by a strange noise in the church which was somewhat in competition with the music. It sounded a bit like typing but it's more than a little difficult to believe that anyone would actually have been doing so. What sort of ecclesiastical emergency could make you type during a concert? Other theories: piano malfunction (I have always said they have too many moving parts), noise from outside, eccentric audience member doing bizarre arhythmical foot-tapping? Very large mice?? Is it just Vogel hallucinating??? Most odd. Oh well.

Encore: that nice Rachmaninov tune. Erm, yes, which tune would that be? I can't remember but if I do, or look it up, you'll be the first to know. Beautiful.

Lovely concert. These are fabulous performers and Kim Mackrell again did things with harmonics that made me want to run around shrieking with excitement and tension. But the balance did not work for me and once again I am not sure if this is my ears, my choice of seat or what. Since, even as I write this, my tinnitus is giving me merry H*ll (despite the best efforts of Messrs Cave and Grönemeyer on the In weiter Ferne, so nah! soundtrack CD) I am clearly not exactly a reliable commentator on these matters. I do wish, though, that someone with fully functional musical ears had sat just where I was and could comment. (Not literally in the same place, you understand: that would just be silly. And uncomfortable. Next to me would work fine, thanks.) Even so. A well-spent lunchtime of lovely music. And it’s Friday!!

Explanatory textual module: The "something" I was buying oop t'music shop, by the way, was a vocal score for the Christmas Oratorio. I have two of them to do this year, one where I am less scarily on 2nd in the more scary environment of Salisbury Cathedral, and one more scarily on 1st in the very much less scary environment of the Great Hall at Barts, which you can see pictured here. In the Barts performance we also have my dear daughter Loötës playing the trumpet, which is never a bad thing. It gets very boring in the long gaps between the trumpet-rich bits and it is very nice to have a score so you can follow and even tweetle along quietly in the choruses. (Croak-along-a-Johann-Sebastian!) Bizarrely we did not have a score of this great work and it's not always possible to borrow one from the choir. End of explanatory textual module, bleep bleep.

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