Friday, June 13, 2008

Full marks for trying

Wow, I'm really out of practice with writing concert reviews - haven't done one for so long. Though for my current music essay I'm having to compare performances by Kreisler and L Mordkovitch (plus pianists) of a Grieg violin sonata - my main impression is that his interpretation is male, with plenty of balls, and hers is feminine and simpering - but that probably will not give me full marks!

Anyway. In Tbilisi Opera House last night the String Quartet of the Tbilisi Zakharia Paliashvili Opera and Ballet Theatre played, together with soloists, Schubert, Weber and Schumann. I think that the names of string quartets should not contain more words than players in the quartet.

I have to say that even though I sat in the second row, I could only see half the band, what with the rather large head of a Tbilisi music worthy in front of me, blocking my sight. But I did see this chap emote for the whole band...

The Schubert was the Quartettsatz (not that the programme specified that, I only realised that when people applauded at the end - though I know the piece well, but putting numbers to pieces....). Oooh, the start was rough! Serious nerves in the first fiddle, I think. It settled down, was better at the repeat, but just a bit wobbly. The cellist for the whole evening lacked darkness in his tone (and probably while he plays with that instrument, which may be part of a set of new instruments given to the theatre some time ago), in addition to lacking power - so the cello did not ground the pieces as well as it should have done. It was ok, not brilliant.

This was followed by Weber's clarinet quintet, with Shota Gogodze as the soloist. He really lifted the game and drove the music on, with the quartet just about following him. There were hair-raising tempi, but he was having a lot of fun and let us all enjoy it (and I could see him, too!). Some of his pianos were a bit iffy, as if he had technical difficulties with his instrument, maybe? But he made a huge difference.

The opera house is on the main street in Tbilisi, with a bus stop right outside it, so noise levels are not high. At the beginning of the second half I could not stand it when the balcony door of the concert room was left open! So I shot over, while the first fiddler had his bow held high, and shut the door. I mean, really!

Finally Schumann's piano quintet, which I had only heard in Vilnius a few weeks ago. I am sorry, here I need to divert into operachic country and give some health/fashion advice. Tamar Licheli, the soloist, came on stage in a bright red dress, which only afterwards I realised was cut at the back down to her behind. Tamar appears to be a very slim lady, but rather curvaceous. The line of her supporting underwear went right across the back and showed clearly that it was not adequate for the job. Two pieces of advice - get yourself measured for said garment, and don't wear dresses that are quite so low-cut at the back. Consider the front instead.

Could not see her posture what with the emoting chap in front of me, but my friend said it looked unusual. However, she fitted well into the ensemble and did not drown out the string players. Also communicated with them well. The quartet played their hearts out - it did not always fit together that well, but mostly it did, and the violist (who I am sure I've met on a flight once) did his bit quite nicely in the second movement (though perhaps a little too roughly), and so it was quite a pleasant evening.

I mean, we are in Tbilisi, there's not that much scope for very high quality, but it's great that opera orchestra members come out of their pit, like moles, and expose themselves playing chamber music. That can only improve the quality of the orchestra.

Meantime I'm missing the Vilnius festival.


Helene said...

I would also add that when wearing clingy dresses the equivalent of the panty line should be considered for bras. Though in this case the equivalent of the thong is not the answer.

I can add that it's a bit alarming when a member of the audience rushes for the balcony just as the music is about to begin. Was she about to leap off the balcony in disgust or panic? No, she was just shutting the door, to keep the bus noise out.

violainvilnius said...

Given the rusher-to-the-balcony's recent history she now realises that perhaps she alarmed some audience members more than others!

Anonymous said...

I'd like vey much to speak with the author of this essay. it seems true that he didn't write concert reviews for a long time but anyway I'd like to discuss with him this letter and give some advices for his future music essay like: the piece that the quartett and the soloist performed that evening called quintett,not quartett and the second advice: any person who has the happiness to present at classical concert (especially in Tbilisi) has to be able to write more about music.

violainvilnius said...

yes, indeed, the error ('quartet') was an unforgivable slip of the pen. It's now corrected.