Monday, April 13, 2015

And is there honey still for tea ...

So my Berlin music season is underway. A little ahead of schedule. The Pianosalon had a late change of programme for last night, and the replacement was a nice sounding concert – Rachmaninov, César Franck – by Bernard Klöckner (cello) and pianist Anna Fedorova. So we put on our shoes, and headed up the road to our favourite concert venue.

A night at the Pianosalon – alas! Their programmes always start anywhere between 8.30 and 9pm – is traditionally prefaced by a meal at the Uferlos restaurant, so a huge plate of spätzle and salad was the start to the evening … 

It was grand to be back at the Pianosalon. It is such a warm, characterful place, just made for music. I was sad to hear that it is going to have to shift premises, but apparently not far and into another characterful building, so fingers crossed. And let’s enjoy this version of the venue while we can.

The well-attended concert started with a piece called, inexplicably, ‘The Enchantment of Venus’ by Howard Blake. I don’t know whether that was Venus the goddess or Venus the planet, but I found it rather nothingish. And the sound was odd. The piano sounded as if the pedal had got stuck (it hadn’t, I looked), and the cello sounded, from note one, like honey. Which is lovely, but too much honey becomes … well, too much. There is nothing wrong with the accoustic in the Salon, was it the placing of the instruments? The cellist spent a lot of time looking off stage right (and half the audience looking thus at nothing but his left elbow). I don’t know.
The Franck was somewhat livelier and definitely more tuneful, the Rachmaninov … well, was the Rachmaninov. It’s hard, listening to young artists playing works that you have heard played by the greats. For me, something just didn’t click wholly. The young man is a very facial player, somehow the expression in his features just didn’t seem to come down the bow and out of the instrument. And I was irresistibly reminded of that painting of Edith Sitwell (was it?) with a cello or bass.

Then came the unscheduled programme. Calling additional numbers ‘encores’ is a bit silly. And, strangely, when the players let loose on a Chopin polonaise, the constraint seemed to have gone. As if saying ‘well, we’ve got through the big stuff, let’s have fun’. And it was fun. So (apart from another smidgin of Blake), we ended on an upbeat.

One lingers a little in the atmosphere of the Pianosalon, but the hour was tardy, and we’ll be back soon … so off to the Hochstrasse and bed. If that night out hasn’t killed my jetlag, nothing will.

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