Having that quality of musician in such an intimate space is really nice. There is not that element of formality or distance. Having things prefixed and explained make everything more accessible and engaging. Then to be able to see things like the fingering on the keyboard for example, it just really is fantastic.
It was with some trepidation that I went into Thursday’s program without a full briefing from Jon James in the Paintshop. Surely I’d be going in blind to Daniel Hope’s Air: A Baroque Journey without a point of reference or historical context. What should I be listening for? Where does all this fit in the grander scheme of things? What does it all mean?!
Just extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever had quite such an experience at a concert before, it was amazing. The vivacity of it and the way they were just having such fun playing with and bouncing off one another was just infectious, and everyone caught it.
I needn’t have worried. Hope, virtuoso violinist and comfortable raconteur, provided his own commentary to this celebration of Baroque’s original meaning of “rough cut pearl”.
I think the joy of it, the notion that you can play with it, you can have fun with it, and you can experiment with it and yet keep within the form. It had all the joy, all the structure and all the form, everything you would expect, and then just these fantastic twiddles!
In what was an extremely relaxed concert the returning Hope was keen to redress the daring and dangerous nature of the form at its inception. This was a Baroque Roots if you will, dynamic and racy, and brought to life through tremendous showmanship and camaraderie.
There’s a tremendous magic and a pride in each other’s performance, which is lovely. Sheer bravura playing, it was just fantastic.
In place of the Inside the Music talk we were treated to an exploratory workshop hosted by Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director Tom Morris, with Sinfornia Cymru as his illustrative aids. It was essentially a series of experiments in applying a theatrical perspective to classical performance, with the audience as the guinea pigs.
Set on the stage but with the spectators/subjects facing in and out into the pit and stalls, the discussion felt a little rough and unready but provided plenty of food for thought come our Baroque Journey – or any other musical performance for that matter – proving another invaluable gateway into the appreciation of classical music.
Serial experimentalists Sinfornia Cymru would feature again at the late-night proms with an orchestral offering to the subterranean club culture of today. Arranged like an art installation in the centre of a dark, industrial box, UnButtoned saw brooding strings interact with electronic manipulation, clipped rhythms and glitchy, processed beats.
Obvious comparisons could be drawn to Amon Tobín or Cinematic Orchestra (down to the geometric projections) but this was not orchestration as a tool in the producer’s box but classical music reaching across the divide to contemporary culture.
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