Saturday, December 29, 2007

There's a hole in my head

....connecting both ears, after they were thoroughly blasted through by Vladimiras Tarasovas and friends at tonight's concert at the Filharmonija. Whew!

The concert was described as 'Jazz at Christmas'. My Oxford concise Dictionary of Music talks about the music of the blacks, then dixieland, swing, be-bop (not sure what that is) and modern and free jazz. Frankly, today's programme could have passed very easily as contemporary classical music, too. But we know (and the audience knows) that Tarasovas' definition is something like the liberty of doing what he likes. And often it is very cerebral. He is very well regarded indeed in Vilnius, and his concerts are usually close to sold out, even though his music can be a little challenging.

Tarasovas, who I am told is 60, but I don't believe it, is a virtuoso percussionist. His technique is awesome. He began this concert on his own with the '12th Act' including a video installation, where he played percussion on his own for about 40 minutes. It was a bit challenging, also for the audience, and at one stage he could not raise his head without the audience thinking that he had come to an end, and applauding. The pieces did have a clear structure and clear themes (including the William Tell overture on instruments without harmony or differentiated notes), and terrifying technique, but it was a bit hard work trying to follow him. People were however extremely interested in what he was doing; much more so than in classical concerts where they sit back and relax. This was almost participative music making. So maybe we should have more concerts like this? Though one person near me managed to sleep through the loudest uproar.

The second half, Tarasov's 4 movement piece called 'Drumming' (did I mention that the whole evening involved percussion instruments only?), brought another 6 percussionists on stage, including Arvydas Joffe, Marijus Aleksa, Darius Rudis, Arkadijus Gotesmanas, the delightful Pavelas Giunteris, and Vytis Vainilaitis.

This piece consisted of main themes, with then the individual percussionists being given opportunities to show off - which may have been as close to jazz as you can get. The second movement, 'Brushes Touch', was played only with brushes - but boy, the different noises you can make with brushes, and the third movement 'Summit' had a rondo like quality, with the same theme linking the different soloistic interspersions (actually it was almost like two rondos within each other) - in this the fabulous Pavelas had a wonderful solo with the timps - give a guy 4 timps and arms and legs are flailing all over the place....The final movement, Mr Hi Hat, was a wonderful session where each soloist only had a set of foot-operated cymbals (hi hats) and a couple of sticks - and yet produced a huge variety of sounds and rhythms.

The second half of the concert was pure dead brilliant - the audience loved it, and asked for more. And got a version of 'Silent Night' played with miniature instruments. Wow, what a concert!

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varske said...

Sorry to miss the fabulous Pavelas. I hope there is someone as good in Tbilisi.