Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Get me out of here!

Last night's concert by the 'New Ideas Chamber Orchestra' (NIKO, in Lithuanian) was something quite different. Starved of music, as I have been, I was interested to see what this new band would produce. Hmmmm. The audience consisted mainly of young people few of whom I knew. Which made me wonder what I had let myself in for! (In Lithuania it's mainly the young who go to avantgarde type concerts).

As the audience was filing in some of the performers appeared in different corners of the hall and started fiddling away. In my corner there was a young woman playing Bach; a bit further away another one was doing something virtuosic - but I could not hear her; there was a violist, and another violinist further away. Hmmm?

A young man and young woman appeared and leaned up against the stage. Turned out, eventually, that he was the conductor/composer(?) and she was the singer. Singer. Yes, well. The musicians sprinkled round the audience eventually disappeared and some reappeared on the stage, which by now featured a string quartet, with a guy playing various gongs at the front, the singer and the conductor/composer(?)/pianist.

The concert was called 'be dvieju bruksniu' ('without two lines/strokes' according to my dictionary). There was no programme. The website says that it was the composer Gediminas Gelgotas' 'musical mystery, a magical evening of musical improvizations', which 'at the same time on the scene shows some 20 young Lithuanian international competition winners as well as NIKO'. Maybe I should have read the blurb more carefully....but there were not 20 people involved, ever.

The first person left during the first piece, where it appeared that the singer was having sex with the microphone, accompanied by the gongs, and possibly the string quartet behind, but we could not hear them over the roar of the gongs. Since I sat in the front row I could neither count how many other people left, nor leave myself - there was a little door near me, but I realised just in time I would still have to cross the auditorium to actually get out. I was trying to think if there was a backdoor, and whether I would be able to climb out over the garden walls at the back of the building.....

Anyway, on it went. Another piece had the same little theme, a few bowed notes and then a 'plink' which was played by the whole string quartet, each member at different times and different pitches - I thought the first violinist did the most masterful 'plink' but the cellist and violist did not pick this up. A further piece had a slightly fugal start; Gelgotas played the piano for a bit, then a song involved the singer in whistling and squeaking - though it's clear that she is also quite capable of singing very high. The music was much the same throughout - I'd have to hear it more often to get the hang of it, but would I really want to?

I have to say that the performers played wonderfully. Particularly the cellist stood out with his warm tone, as did the oboist. It's strange that Gelgotas did not write any whistles or squeaks for any of the other instruments, only the singers - the oboe could have done that quite well, as could the string instruments, all of whom played just very normal bowed string music. But perhaps that would have added a level of complexity beyond his ken.

So it was quite interesting, short (thankfully), but not a great deal of fun.

Roll on Judas Maccabaeus on Sunday!