Monday, April 29, 2013

Into the Week Gently

What could be better to wind down with on a Sunday evening than a little classical music?

Balliceaux was hosting the monthly Classical Incarnations, a chance for musicians to play solo or in duos or trios.

I've learned to arrive early enough to get a table because the room tends to fill up and it's not a long event.

Tonight, my partner in crime and I were the first ones in, scoring a front table and a dessert that looked like a giant cupcake with strawberry mousse on top and a blueberry filling.

But we were in the minority eating sweet since most people seemed to be getting fries to munch on while listening.

The music began with two violinists doing a Telemann piece with violinist Ellen explaining that while they'd be playing the same music, they wouldn't be playing it at the same time.

"It works because Telemann was brilliant," she said and listening to the piece, it was clear she was right.

Classical guitarist Leah came next, a familiar face since I'd recently seen her play as part of Fado Nasso, a Portuguese fado group.

Tonight she was talking about her Kickstarter (she wants to study in Seville) and playing a couple of her own flamenco-influenced compositions, one accompanied by another classical guitarist.

David played piano for three early 20th century French pieces before showing us his lighter side.

"I did this last time and I'm going to try it again. Someone give me a tune and I'll make a song out of it," he challenged.

A guy at the bar sung out "Menomena," to which David asked, "Sesame Street?" and returned to the piano for an upbeat little ditty that took "menomena" in all kinds of poppy directions.

Daryl took the stage with an electric guitar, something new for Classical Incarnations.

Explaining that it was the centennial of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," he explained that he'd reduced the groundbreaking orchestral work for guitar.

Yes, sir, I'd say reducing 44 musicians' parts to one guitar was a hell of a reduction.

Saying he planned to debut the full work on May 29th, the anniversary of the first performance in 1913, he said he'd usually chosen the solo voice when transcribing the piece, although occasionally he'd used his favorite instrument instead.

"Please," he said, smiling, "No rioting,"  a reference to the near-riot caused 100 years ago.

His hands flew all over the strings, recreating the sounds of all those instruments as he played the first three parts of the piece.

It was a very cool experience, very different than the usual at Classical Incarnations, and yet perfectly fitting, too.

And no rioting was had.

During intermission, I chatted with the resident photographer, who's also the man from whom I took a class in understanding jazz, and the handsome bass player who never fails to tell me he's glad to see me.

I don't dwell on whether he means it or not.

The second half was far shorter, and began with Ellen on violin and Bill on cello and moved onto pianist Russell with a singer doing a sad French song

The set closed with pianist Russell, violinist Ellen and singer Lisa doing a Rachmaninoff piece, surely a treat for Russell given Rachmaninoff's piano-centric compositions.

Lisa read us the translation of the lyrics beforehand ("Because they're so beautiful," she said, meaning sad), although the ache in her voice would have told us all we needed to know.

It had been a satisfying evening of varied music and when I went to leave, the bass player tried to guess where I was going next.

That remains to be seen. And probably not told.

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