Friday, September 15, 2006

Expensive Concert in Kiev

Tonight the next concert in the Virtuoso Planet series, in Kiev's stunning opera house. Tickets extremely expensive, 250 UAH, about 40 Euros - probably a third of the monthly minimum wage. Before the first half the hall looked quite bare, especially in the expensive front row. So slipped from the side of the second row to the centre of the front row. Found the same orchestra before me, the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine. First soloist was Clement Saunier of France playing the Hummel concerto. Orchestra was rather large for this, but they coped. Saunier could have been a bit smoother; he's not a Nagariakov, but he played competently enough - got the impression he was a bit bored with the piece. He was followed by Marie-Elisabeth Hecker of Germany, aged 18 or 19, playing the Shostakovich cello concerto. She has a passing resemblance to Ms Du Pre, and gave it all she had. The second movement was quite haunting; the first could have been played a tiny, tiny bit dirtier but really, it was a very very good performance. There was a bit of a strange audience; applause in the wrong place (only businessmen can afford the ticket prices), and in particular some guy high up in the gods applauding long after everyone had finished, and shouting 'bravo' into the silence. The conductor gave him several of his glares, but it took some time for the guy to stop...

In the second half the hall had suddenly filled up; not sure if they had come from upstairs, or from outside. The front row was suddenly filled by a bunch of very smart young men one of whom was carrying a bible. Hmm. I sat down on one of only two free seats (after the row had been empty for the whole first half of the concert) - the back of the seat was taken by the jacket of the guy behind me. He asked if I could move; I suggested he move his jacket, which he did. A young American conductor called Solshenitsyn conducted Shostakovich's 10 symphony. Very good, with lots of energy, and driving his way through the piece. This time the audience had mysteriously got it about not applauding between movements. Very strange.

Just now in the flat, watching on Arte (French) a film about the Kenneth Noye road rage incident. Must be 15 years ago, and was the first major road rage incident. Came into the film late, but it only took about 4 minutes to work out what it was about; something about the policeman in the British uniform, the range rover and an old guy attacking a young guy immediately brought that story to mind. I expect the incidence of road rage murders is much higher in Eastern Europe, what with life seeming to be cheaper, more drink, more drugs....