Saturday, September 29, 2007

Little (very very little) and Large

Did not mean to go to the final concert of the Tbilisi Autumn concert series. A recorder soloist - I mean, give me a break, that'll be boring, no? So I had bought a ticket for the theatre instead (Twelfth Night, already reviewed here). It was great! The only problem was that when I arrived at the Rustaveli theatre for 7 pm I found the doors firmly locked, as did some other people. What had happened? The shows now start at 8 pm - which makes it quite late in the case of Shakespeare.

What to do? Nipped along the road to the opera house and got a ticket for the concert. In the queue was the lovely Giorgi Kharadze, last night's soloist, who told me he now lives in Germany, where he is studying in Cologne with Frans Helmerson, one of the leading cello teachers. He spoke fluent English, and French (as a French national presumably), Georgian of course, and I assume also German. Any young musician who speaks no language but their birth language strangles his or her international career at birth!

So found a seat at the end of a row, to be able to escape quickly to the theatre. Found myself beside the basses, and had a wonderful opportunity during the initial Mozart symphony to revise classical harmony and confirm that in Mozart's day the basses play the same as the cellos, only an octave lower. I've also revised my opinion of the orchestra's ability to play Mozart; they are really quite good when a section of 6 basses and 10 cellos can play really delicately and quietly. Also had a better view of the orchestra leader and confirmed my view that he is really very good indeed - a great leader!

Then on came the soloist. Most of us who had attended the concert series regularly recognised him as the very tall German guy, Justus Wilberg, who also had come to every concert. But where was his instrument? He put his hand in his jacket and pulled out .... a sopranino recorder. That's the recorder equivalent of a piccolo flute; a tiny thing. The player was well over 2m tall; with hands like shovels, and here he was playing this titch of a thing in Vivaldi's concerto for it. In Eastern Europe recorders are rarely taken seriously as concerto instruments.... He laughed, the audience laughed, and after his first musical entry (and exit) a slight hum broke out in the audience, which continued to smile. After that they were totally spellbound, partly also because he did not seem to breathe. Ok, so he's a guy with big lungs and a tiny instrument, and I think I saw him doing circular breathing, but it was pretty, er, breathtaking. The orchestra had reduced its forces for this, and accompanied him very delicately indeed. It worked very well.

I see that I left before a concerto by Telemann for recorder and ....VIOLA! Glad I did not know about that...