Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday, 25 August 2008

I was at such a beautiful concert today.. It was this morning, at the Queen’s Hall, and it was only half full, perhaps because the Fringe is ending today, or perhaps because it had a high proportion of modern works on the programme.

But the people who stayed away missed such pleasure!

It was a chamber group – two violins, lute and harpsichord – and they began with Biber. (1644-1704). The programme called him an exponent of “stylus phantasticus”, which I loved. It’s him in every sense: working with etxtremes of emotion. With ecstasy, rapture, dejection, fury, despair. And pushing the language of the baroque to extremes to communicate them.

Berio (1925-2003) does the equivalent now. And besides him, there was an amazing work by a contemporary Mexican Hilda Paredes (b 1957). A neighbour was sitting in front of me, and he said that it was as if some of the music was beyond the limit of his hearing. It was like a beautifully structured celebration of life’s possibilities.

She wrote it for solo violin; and the musician spread improbable quantities of music paper over four large music stands which he placed right across the front of the stage. I imagine because the virtuosic demands of the piece were so extreme he simply couldn’t afford to stop to turn the page. He did the same for the Berio Sequenza; and as he played he moved from one side of the stage to the other. From left to right.

I liked him: there was something immensely pleasing about the way he placed his feet so warmly upon the ground.

They ended with Biber’s Partia no. 3 – a wild and beautiful dance that left us stamping, and then out into the rain with the memory of the music dancing right through my body.

Then I went to the supermarket, which I suppose should have been a let down, but wasn’t: because the lady at the check-out was glowing. It turned out she’d been showing her 3 dogs – Orkney terriers I think they were – at a dog show at Ingliston over the weekend and they’d been accepted for Crufts.

And every part of her was glowing with love and pride.

Perhaps it’s always like that: when we take pleasure in the act of living. Because life then arranges it so new sources of pleasure come to us.


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