By M.V.Ramakrishnan

Friday, June 3, 2016

Viennese Musicians Please Madras Audience, And Vice Versa

The sequel to the game of hide-and-seek played by musicians from Vienna and music-lovers in Madras (which I described in the preceding blog) was a happy one --  and yet . . . Please read on!

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March 31, 2011 

Playing to the heart

Once upon a time there weren’t many lovers of Western classical music in Chennai.  But times have changed ;  and today there are hundreds of people who are earnestly interested in the music of legendary European composers, such as Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and others.

So Chennai has an enthusiastic audience for well-accomplished foreign musicians who come over here to present authentic programs. The Austrian Consulate in Chennai deserves high praise for consistently organising Western chamber music recitals by visiting musicians based in Vienna.

A recent performance at the Sivakami Petachi auditorium by violinist Eva Steinschaden and pianist Alexander Vavtar -- who are the backbone of a distinguished music ensemble called Nota Bene in Vienna, which sometimes includes other musicians also -- was a source of immense satisfaction for a large gathering, which included many students of Western music.

Two sonatas for violin and piano by Mozart (A Major, KV 305) and Schubert (A Minor), with which the concert began and ended, were truly heart-warming.  Between them came a short string of three cameos by Fritz Kreisler, which were very melodious and pleasing -- and a puzzling contemporary work, titled 'Dream Fragments', by Ludwig Nusbichler (2003).  The latter was replete with plucking and screeching noises, and introduced a rather jarring note, so far as the audience in this part of the world was concerned.  Instead of this bizarre number, another work of Mozart or Beethoven would have been most welcome!

As an encore, the duo played a prayer-like piece by Estonian composer Arvo Part, titled, ‘Mirror in the Mirror,’ which had a serene and meditative quality like that of the classic hymn, ‘Abide By Me,’ made so famous in India by our military bands in the context of the Republic Day celebrations.  And that did touch our hearts!

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PostScript, 2016

Bizarre and beautiful

Well, here was a pleasing turn of events!  It was good to see that after a couple of false starts in earlier years, accomplished musicians from Vienna and earnest lovers of Western music in Madras were at last mutually satisfied with their performance and attendance respectively. 

Certainly the organizers seemed to have taken effective initiatives to ensure this.  But mind you, if only they had guided the Viennese musicians a little more insightfully about the preferences and expectations of the audience in this distant land and city, the visitors weren't likely to have inflicted on us the agony of enduring the bizarre Nusbichler number, but might have given us some more beautiful views of Mozart's music!  Or perhaps Beethoven's, who knows?   

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