14 October 2016

Classical jazz

The Berliner Philharmonie (the concert venue for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) stages free weekly lunchtime concerts, now on Tuesdays. This was our second: a trio of cello, bass and vibes. It’s an unusual combination and also an unusual program. Not for the pieces, for they were classical pop hits. But unusual for the arrangements and what seemed like occasional improvisation by all three players and the long medley that made up the first part. I’d expected the first piece, Bach cello suite no.1 G maj Prelude to be played on cello. Instead it started with improv intro, then into bass playing the melody in thumb position with cello counterpoint, then vibes accompaniment through to the final lines on cello played rubato. Then attacca into Grieg with the melody played by cello then bass then cello with bass counterpoint, pizz to arco, then a harmonised melody and a unison ending. Attacca into Sculthorpe from Tailitnama song, obviously Australian to my ears, with urgent summer heat and cello obligato underlying the whole in 3. A break then Bach’s Air on a G string (Orchestral suite 3 mvt.2) played pretty much as I remember from playing it with Maruki. Another break for some words to the audience. Piazzola Libertango with cello improv. Two Vivaldi movements and Satie Gnossienne no.1 including solos from cello, bass and vibes and walking bass (to add to my perplexity, the bass was amplified). All a slightly odd proposition in this location. Then Ortiz Tratado de glosas. I didn’t know this but it’s early (1553) and a lithe then bouncy piece, much enjoyed. Obviously this is a popular program for the masses and masses there were. Seats are reserved for “severely disabled” (not sure I saw too much of that) and others hung over balconies or sat on steps or on the floor or just stood (as we did last time). There’s a rush at noon when the doors open for the 1pm concert. Given seats are reserved, I’m not sure early arrival is worth it. So, nice playing of mostly easy and popular works with a touch of classical jazz, an unexpected pleasure to hear the Sculthorpe and well worth the price.

Anna Carewa (viola), Oli Bott (vibraphone) and Janne Saksala (bass) played a lunchtime concert in the Berlin Philharmonie foyer.

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