Thursday, June 04, 2009

And who was that leading the viola section of the Scala Milan chamber orchestra?

There I was, in the concert of the chamber orchestra of La Scala, Milan, idly gazing around the band, watching the viola section (I had a really cheap standing ticket, for 5 LT - how come it was so cheap? and there were no real sets left to crowd into), when suddenly I thought, I know the viola leader. You know how it is when you see a person in unexpected places, you don't recognize them, or at least I don't - terrible memory for faces...Was that our own Ula Ulijona Zebriunaite? That dark viola, I recognized it, too - and indeed it was! What's she doing playing in that band? Is it a move away from the Kremerata Baltica? What about the string quartet she is playing in? Seems she is up to all these things - well, congratulations, Ula!

To some degree it was rather a standard concert. The four seasons of Vivaldi interspersed with four seasons of Piazzola. Nowadays one knows both sets of pieces as well as each other. Given that Piazzola is Argentinian one wonders if his seasons should not be played upside down, what with the seasons being in different months of the year in Argentina.  It was also strange about the concert arrangement and applause - there was no interval, and the band breezed through all 8 sets of pieces in one go, apparently not particularly inviting applause between any of them, though occasionally the audience made itself felt - in a rather random sort of way.

The interpretation of the Vivaldi was rather conventional (Cepinskas does a more interesting one), but beautifully played. Oh that cellist! Sitting in the standing room seats I could not see the violins, but I got the impression that the cellist was leading the band. The soloist was great - apart from appearing in a very stylish red shirt (where did he buy that??) and white trousers, he fairly blistered through the fast movements. Was it really possible to play them that fast? Obviously it was.

This kind of concert attracts two kinds of people, or maybe three - those who go to concerts to be seen (and yes, they were there), those who like Vivaldi and suffer Piazzola, and those who like Piazzola and suffer Vivaldi, and yes, ok, there are those who like them both (so four kinds of people).  At the end the band gave two Piazzola encores - when, finally, they launched into Libertango, the Filharmonija briefly converted into a pop concert, with the audience cheering, as the band started to play. I don't really mind, it's nice that people enjoy music - a woman in the front row seemed to be close to orgasm at that point....