Hot on the heels of the resumption of the Plant Heritage garden lectures comes the new concert season. I am trying a new series this year in addition to the concerts at East Bergholt. New to me, that is, for Studio Music is now in its twenty-sixth year. I've been meaning to go without ever quite getting round to it for about the past three of those years, and this time I've finally organised myself and joined.
You do literally have to join, if you want to go to more than one concert. Membership will set you back the princely sum of ten pounds, and is a requirement of the planning regulations, since the concerts are held in somebody's house, or rather the art studio attached to his house, right at the bottom of Brightlingsea overlooking the marshes and the creek. The ticket desk is in the kitchen, and the audience files through into the double height room that forms the studio, where there's a choice between an eclectic collection of chairs downstairs, or an upstairs landing, or a little room off the landing with a restricted view. Some folk who wanted to see opted to sit on the stairs, and those who arrived in time to bag front row seats were no more than six feet from the performers.
Today's guests were a German piano trio, the Klaviertrio Wurzburg, who had driven all the way from Wurzburg in Bavaria and then caught the ferry in order to perform in Brightlingsea, along with the pianist's husband and their three month old baby. It was there in the list of gigs on their website, Wittlich, Grossbritannien, Neustadt (that's where Emil of Emil and the Detectives came from), Wurzburg, Rheinburg, Wurzburg again. Grosbritannien was Brightlingsea.
I liked the concert very much. I liked the repertoire, Schubert, Saint-Saens and Brahms, and I liked them. That doesn't count for a much in that I don't have a great ear, let alone an educated one, but they sounded pretty good to me. And they were very serious and charming, and never spoke once through the whole proceedings. The pianist, who was very tall, darted a dashing and intense smile from under her fringe at sister on the violin each time they were ready to begin a new movement, while the cellist reminded me of John Singer Sergeant's portrait of the young Gabriel Faure.
The society has a new piano. Their old one was on its last legs, to the point where 2016-17 was going to have to be the last season with a piano because it had got so bad it was embarrassing asking professional musicians to play it, then one of their supporters bought a small grand piano for them to use as long as they needed it. Really classical music outside the big urban centres totters along on a wing and a prayer plus the kindness of strangers. I don't understand how it's possible to bring three musicians all the way from Bavaria just to play to such a small audience, though clearly it is because Studio Music has been doing it for a quarter of a century already. Long may it continue.