Monday, 12 May 2008

Music without words

Tempted as I am to leave my Lucksmiths tribute post at the top of the page for a while, there is more to say!

One of the marked characteristics of my almost-year back in Australia has been a tendency to attend concerts that greatly exceeds my habits in either Rennes, or pre-Rennes Brisbane. Since returning, I've seen Dave Holland, Barney McAll, Gretchen Parlato, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and the Lucksmiths, as well as gigs by Paul, Julz and Kylie. While that won't break any records, its an improvement.

Yesterday, on the back of my Lucksmiths night, I added to the list with the Griffith Trio, a classical piano/violin/cello combination, and their recital at the Conservatorium theatre, courtesy of Andy and his employers Dialog, who sponsor the group.

They opened with Beethoven's Archduke trio. To be honest, I found it fairly dull, which in hindsight is disappointing, as I have a bit of a soft spot for LvB. The instrumentation seemed thin, the passion of some of Beethoven's other works was conspicuously absent, and by the fourth movement, I was beginning to doze.

After a break, and a frankly horrible glass of what claimed to be "classic dry white", we returned to find a string quartet, minus piano, offering Puccini's Chrysanthemums. I enjoyed this piece much more. Whether it was the extra instruments or the writing, the thinness was gone, and the more modern piece was much more interesting in terms of harmonies and, dare I suggest, chords.

The final piece was Elgar's quintet. Like the Puccini, this was a more modern piece, and showed harmonies which reminded me a little of Debussy and Ravel, who I guess might have been contemporaries. There were parts which almost bordered on corny, where the piano turned almost stride-y, but on the whole, it was very nice.

Taken as a whole, the concert was by no means on a par with the Lucksmiths or the ACO, my previous two efforts. The first half suffered from what I consider to be the great detriments of classical music, but the second reminded me a little of what it can be when it is good.

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