Friday, 3 October 2008

Four firsts

I have been out every night this week - a sign that the Summer holiday period is well and truly over.

Monday saw the first meeting of our church finance committee with the new parish priest: a refreshingly different sort of get-together from any we have ever had before. I feel it's going to be a pleasure to work with Fr. Bosco, given the ambitious ideas he has for the two parishes to which he's been appointed.

On Tuesday, the Cheltenham Film Society had its first showing of the new season: Xavier Giannoli's film Quand j'étais chanteur with the beautiful Cécile de France alongside a mountainous Gérard Depardieu: it was a boring story. The Chairman's welcome speech and the wine and cheese afterwards were the best bits of the evening!

The Cheltenham Music Society's opening recital was on Wednesday, an altogether higher definition performance, by the Carducci Quartet. The evening had a World War II feel to it. Britten's first quartet was followed by a very accessible quartet by a pre-war refugee from Vienna, Joseph Horowitz. The Quartet (with the brilliant Nicola Eimer) finished with Shostakovich's wartime Piano Quintet.

This was chamber music playing of the hightest standard - good enough almost to distract me from the draught which was blowing under the rear doors of the Pittville Pump Room. It was a pleasure afterwards to be introduced by Jane Blunden to the "middle" of the Quartet, Michelle Fleming and Eoin Schmidt-Martin, word of which reached Ireland before I could even get round to typing this!

Churches can also be draughty places at this time of year, but not last night: there was a packed audience for the opening Tetbury Festival recital by Radu Lupu. Not having heard him for decades, I had forgotten quite what a distinctive virtuoso he is. His playing isn't to everyone's taste, particularly those put off by unprepossessing platform behaviour; but the Beethoven in the first half was, for me magical, especially the Andante of Op 14, no 2.

The Schumann Fantasie on the other hand seemed erratic; but then I have grown used to listening to the incomparable performance by Marc-André Hamelin on Hyperion. Perhaps my restlessness was to some extent to blame: when sitting in Tetbury church, "no matter where; of comfort no man speak."

Interesting to contrast Lupu with Gérard Depardieu: both gone to seed rather.

1 comment:

Martin Davis said...

Sarah Priday writes, re the Tetbury Music Festival: "Much better methinks to be at the back - to really hear and enjoy music, rather than watching which I find distracting. From the back of the church the concerts were magical - Lupu, Hanslip, Johnstone, Padmore, Watkins in particular - all breathtaking."