Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The lily, the pomegranate, the grapes, the banana leaf and the feather

Another evening at the Opera House, another concert (great when you can call that 'revision'). Had not intended to go to the first half of Chopin's piano concerto No 2, but this piano pupil felt a bit guilty about that.

I'd always thought that any piano concertos after Beethoven would be loud and virtuosic, and lifting the piano into the air - but not in this case! This is a very delicate piece where the pianist dances along the fingerboard, up and down and twirls around a little. I suspect the piano in question could not have taken much more... I'm showing the publicity still of the lovely soloist, Khatia Buniatishvili, because she actually now has very short hair indeed. She played beautifully, very controlled, like a grasshopper skipping across the keys and enjoying herself greatly when they played the last movement again as an encore. The title of this post? That was a floral arrangement she received from an admirer - the feather stuck out of the pomegranate. It must be the time for them!

The second half ...well, it was a bit of an odd concert. At the beginning we waited for 20 minutes after the official starting time (5 minutes after the audience had settled down) for anyone to appear on the stage. Even sporadic outbursts of applause brought nothing.

Then the orchestra must have made up for lost time - and after the interval it appeared when far less than half the audience had returned. Shortly afterwards, when three quarters of the audience had ambled in, the conductor appeared, to hardly any applause. He stepped on the rostrum ready to conduct - and people kept shambling in. He turned round, and back to face the orchestra, and the general hum and chitchat carried on. After a good long while he left the state, no doubt in a mega-huff. And quite right, too - I gave a few claps of applause! Someone came along and shunted the rostrum closer to the orchestra. Eventually he reappeared again, I lead off the applause (applause in Georgia seems to run under those activities on which energy is being saved), he cut the applause very short indeed and launched into Beethoven's 8th. If I had been in his mood (or the mood I assume he was in), I would have given it a blistering blast of music! The orchestra isn't quite up to that (or maybe the acoustics); they did play very very fast indeed (the cellos have a horrific running bass in the trio of the third movement), but again the sound volume was not there. The symphony has some sweet places, which could have been sweeter, but not under the circumstances, perhaps.

This conductor is very sensitive to audience noise, much more so than anyone I have seen perform in Georgia - a child cried roughly at the back of the basses; he gave him A Look, and shortly afterwards the child was gone. Ditto the person with the mobile phone ringing in the quietest part of the concerto benefited from an Imperious Glance....


violainvilnius said...

Apparently the story about the very short hair is that poor Ms Buniatishvili had stepped too close to a candle in church and her hair had caught fire.

But her short hair style was absolutely stunning and suited her very well indeed; it made her look much more characterful....