Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Terminal Bewilderment

As soon as I got to work I realised I had forgotten to take my concert ticket. This meant having to run up the hill, past the concert hall, grabbing the ticket, and a very quick bite to eat, and rushing downhill again (for another climb up after the concert). Not happy!

At 6 pm I burst out of the office and shot home, belting past an elderly couple on the final approach - where the husband was gently swaying in the breeze/due to wine/due to exertion, and the wife gave a startled squeak as I rushed past, taking two steps at a time. Picked up the top ticket from my pile of tickets (which are always in date order, aren't they???) and found that the concert had started at 6 pm. Aaarggh. Couldn't be bothered to run down again, so settled down to reheat my stew (third out of 4 or 5 sessions....), and then went and plugged in my computer....passing my pile of concert tickets, with one for today right on top now ... I had moved what I thought was today's ticket into the 'concerts I (almost) attended' pile (in fact that was a ticket for 30 or 31 January). And guess what? The concert was due to start at 7 pm. It was 7.20 pm.

Out I burst of the house, down I hurtled the steep slope to the concert hall, over I tumbled and skint my knee, up I picked myself and into the concert hall/opera house I shot. I had had no idea what the programme might be, though from the numbers on the poster I suspected it might be classical or baroque ('No 29' for example). And I was right - it was an evening of Mozart music. I got into the building at the start of symphony No 29, and after the interval we had a very early symphony (No 10?? 3 movements) and a piano concerto (No 17). It was the Opera and Ballet Theatre Chamber Orchestra (with the only bassist a female!), under George Babuadze, and pianist Valerian Shiukashvili, a dapper young man with a Chopin hairstyle.

The conductor was very active and managed to get some very nice expression out of the orchestra, doing particularly well on the dynamics. Naturally one cannot expect period instruments here, but his interpretation was pretty middle of the road, not lush (or even slushy) as you might get from some Eastern European Chamber Orchestras, not Harnoncourt either, but quite pleasant. His winds rather let him down, creating a bit of a sound soup - maybe like a spinach soup where the spinach has not been washed properly. The lead violist seemed to be enjoying himself. The pianist's and the orchestra's interpretations did not always quite match, and the pianist did not seem quite as at ease with the music as one might have hoped. The piano part had rather interesting cadenzas, three of them (which is a bit unusual, no? one for each movement). The first movement's cadenza quoted the opening bars of 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik' nicely set against the movement's themes; the second movement's cadenza quoted that Figaro aria 'Se vuol ballare, Signor Contino'- this was rather neat. I don't know if these are well-known cadenzas for that piano concerto, but they made it a bit different and interesting, and the orchestra loved them.