Sunday, 19 June 2011
a musical interlude
After my final deadline a week or so ago I had a little time away as a bit of a treat. It was a very fleeting visit to Suffolk, but absolutely worth the long drive to get there and packed full of sensory delights.
The main reason for going was to hear this amazing ensemble perform at the Aldeburgh Festival. Not only are this group technically brilliant I love their ethos: they are passionate about playing music in the absolutely best way they can, coming together to work intensively on one piece at a time, performing one piece only and without a conductor. They spoiled the one-work-thing a little by playing an encore (beautifully!) but they obviously feel huge pressure from venues and audiences to conform to the conventions of performance that we have. The courage at takes to perform one work only is similar to that needed to show one work only in an exhibition. This isn't what people expect - they want as much as they can get for their money, but if it is about quality rather than quantity then the result can be so much more affecting.
It was a very moving performance. This group have to communicate with each other in the way that a quartet would, but there are 35 of them. They know each other's parts inside out as well as their own. Without the barrier of a conductor standing with their back to the audience the concert felt like such a completely shared experience between players and audience - really something very special.
The evening before we stumbled upon this intriguing place, where the instrument workshop is open to the street and all the violin maker's tools were on view. We peered through the windows at the strange bits and pieces: clamps and planes, partly carved shapes, bottles of varnish - a hive of craftsmanship left for the night.
And then there were various other interesting shops to peer into...
There were reed warblers in the reed bed that Snape concert hall sits next to and that this Family of Man looks out over, warbling away and flitting between the raindrop bejeweled stems.
And as for the beach at Aldeburgh, which in many ways was reminiscent of Dungeness (it even has a nuclear power station within view) but not nearly as barren and strange, well there just wasn't enough time to take it all properly... I'll just have to go back again.
Concert listening: Beethoven's 4th Symphony