Sunday, 19 March 2017

another concert

The music society's season came to a rousing conclusion with a German chamber orchestra, and the church was packed, which was an especially creditable effort when Trevor Pinnock was performing in another church not too far away.  The leader of the orchestra introduced the members of his orchestra as coming from several European countries plus Japan, and said that they were all united in music and that this afternoon we also would be united.  I got the impression he was not pro Brexit.  The media has been reporting all sorts of dire warnings from the arts world about how the UK will be cut off from Europe post Brexit by new and insurmountable difficulties over obtaining work permits or travelling with instruments without paying import duties on them.  Or something.  I do hope this will not turn out to be the case.  It should be quite straightforward to establish some sort of certification system that would confirm that German chamber orchestras are only here temporarily to play music and will take their instruments with them when they leave, and that in the meantime they will place no demands on the housing stock or the education system or seek to register with a GP or otherwise carry on like Immigrants.

The afternoon's programme was unashamedly populist in the best way.  I wasn't grabbed by the opening Hugo Wolf (who enjoyed the support of Franz Liszt according to the programme notes.  I am consistent in my prejudices) but after that came Johan Hummel's Trumpet Concerto which is a brisk and tuneful piece from the Age of Enlightment, a Suite by Carl Nielson with a splendid sinister waltz for its second movement, a rondo from Schubert, Faure's Pavane, and Grieg's Holberg Suite. The trumpet sounded really splendid in the church and we all admired the virtuosity of the twiddly bits.  I am a sucker for sinister waltzes.  Faure himself described his pavane as elegant, but not otherwise important, and it is extremely elegant.  And everybody likes the Holberg Suite with its hummable main theme and outbursts of Scandinavian folk influenced fiddling.  They were pieces you can hear regularly on Classic FM, and Classic FM plays the sort of music people like.

The audience clapped very enthusiastically, including before the end of the second encore (a lively bit of Argentinian tango.  By that stage I was thinking that supper was going to be late since I had to peel the potatoes and do the vegetables when I got home) and there was a buzz of happy chatter as they filed out of the church at the end.  I must admit it was nice to go to a concert where the final piece before the interval wasn't all contemporary dissonance when it takes me a minute to work out that the musicians aren't still tuning their instruments and it has actually started.

It is difficult for the artists, I suppose.  Perhaps the trumpeter with the German chamber orchestra does get bored having to trot out Hummel time after time, and would like to do something bold and experimental.  The music society had an issue once with a young string player and their proposed programme.  I had discovered that the previous season they had played Brahms op 78 and asked the Chairman if we could have that.  One of the other committee members is fanatical about Brahms, and the request was duly put in to the young player's agent.  Back came the reply that they would have 'moved on' from Brahms by then.  None of the committee could get very excited about the suggested list of pieces, with the Chairman driven to remark that at least one of them was only ten minutes long.  She tried the agent again, but the reply came, definitely no Brahms.  It was difficult for the young artist, explained the agent, because they would be very focused by then on preparing for their Wigmore Hall recital, and at least the suggested programme did not include 'the usual fare' like the Cesar Franck sonata.

I was rather crushed to hear Franck dismissed as the usual fare, since his sonata was one of the first string pieces I really liked, and I still have my grandmother's vinyl recording of it as well as a more recent one on CD.  It was also irritating to see the music society concert for which we would be paying a full professional fee being treated as a paid dress rehearsal for the Wigmore Hall.  But yet what is a young artist to do?  Perhaps they can't go on playing Brahms op 78 for ever.

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