Wednesday, September 13, 2006

race you to the end!

First concert of the autumn today - wow, I have missed them. It was the Kiev Chamber orchestra in the Kiev Filharmonia. This has just received fine new carpets which are very soft to walk on. In addition the staff have new uniforms, maybe the first ever uniforms, and very fine they are too - the ladies have navy blue capes with a little gold coat of arms, and the men have rather smart black chinese collared jackets. Both are good for having extra layers of clothes underneath in the winter. Geez, it's something when you recognise the changes in concert halls not in your home city.

So anyway, the concert was sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute in Kiev, headed up by a Professor ...Balloni (? - these Italians, are they all professors?); a very fine-looking gentleman not seeming old enough to be a professor. Music was Italian, of course. Started with Paganini's variations on a theme by Rossini adapted for strings and soloist. The soloist, Valentin Zhuk, not a minute below sixty, did amazingly well in this piece played only on the g-string! My wrist hurt just looking at him! Then 'Chrysantheme' by Puccini, a song (poem) with string orchestra by Respighi, and finally the four seasons by Vivaldi, with the same soloist. He played very calmly, gentlemanly, though there were moments when he was a bit hasty. The slow movements were a wee bitty on the fast side; in the fast moments he and the orchestra were racing each other. The continuo cellist was nice, but not as nice as Dainius of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra. But a real tour de force, and an astonishing effort.

Unfortunately I knew no-one there, so no opportunity to gatecrash any parties. Chatted to a couple of Ukrainian ladies, who asked if I worked there and whether I would step up and sing there. Me???

Weather still beautiful and should be better. Productivity a bit doubtful at the moment; had a meeting today from which I expected a great deal more. Was not really in my control, though.