Saturday, 5 August 2017

Levels of entertainment

There's always so much more to a concert than the music -- especially at Chamberfest.

A few nights ago, the Chamberfest Chamber Orchestra, eighteen top-notch musicians led by Julian Rachlin, a violinist who, I gather, is a big deal - I'm not that knowledgable about violin virtuosi - contrasted Vivaldi's Four Seasons with twentieth century composer Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

I'm fond enough of Vivaldi and the Piazzolla piece had its moments - again, I don't have a great ear for violin music - but what was going on in the audience and on stage provided plenty of entertainment.

We had the usual drama with the generous donor who has a reserved seat right in front of us. This time, a lady sitting with a party of four, when confronted with the donor claiming her seat, handed the laminated reserved card, on which she had been sitting partially, to the volunteer who had come to help, with an air of largesse and mild puzzlement, as if she didn't understand what "reserved" meant, or was under the impression that the seat had been reserved for her. (She and her party had probably paid top price to seat in the front row of the balcony.) The Resident Fan Boy calls this "Ottawa entitlement". Gawd, I'll be glad to leave this city...

The volunteer asked repeatedly if the party would like to take special seats in the second row, for their comfort. The gentleman in the party switched seats with the "gently puzzled" lady and shook hands with the donor -- perhaps guessing the reason for the reserved seat.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of excitement below. The virtuoso snapped a string in mid-passion, and barely breaking stride, commandeered the concert-master's instrument, while she relieved the second violin of hers. Second violinist scurried backstage to re-string, and the instruments went back up the food-chain in the next movement.

The first violinists included a towering gent with flowing ginger locks named Edwin Huizinga who mugged at his fellow musicians and plucked his violin, not lasciviously but slyly, during the second movement of Vivaldi "Winter" concerto. I can't provide you with a visual, but here's the movement in question:

Elder daughter tells me that Huizinga is a character (really?) who prefers couch-surfing to home ownership. I gather from his Facebook profile that he's rarely in one place for long.

For comparison purposes, here's the "Winter" portion of Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buones Aires - without the mugging, as it's a different chamber group.

Personally, I only really like the final minute -- which is rather Pachelbel-ish. As I've said, I'm not much of a violin-fancier.

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