A Seduction In PianississimoSaturday, December 16, 2006
Last night's PBO concert at St James' Anglican was a bittersweet experience. Rebecca did not attend. Her mother, has never seen her in a concert situation and does not understand how she enjoys the performances and how she banters with the musicians after. So I had to eat double the amount of Oreos to compensate! And the only proper way is to pry loose gently one chocolate cookie so as to be able to scrape off that glorious white filling. Lucinda Moon (centre in photo, Glenys Webster, violist on the left, Paul Luchkow, violinist, on the right, Rebecca bottom left) sat beside me after her virtuoso performance of the the Four Seasons and told me, "I had all kinds of Australian snake stories to tell Rebecca."
I sat next to Patricia Canning (she who has the keys to the belfry) who said, "I have heard hundreds of Four Seasons but this is the first one I have really listened to. Behind me, during the standing ovation I heard someone shout, "Thank you!" Why was this Four Seasons different? If you have memory, and I have memory, I remember that a few years back the PBO played them with its musical director, Marc Destrubé as soloist. And it was as electrifying as last night's performance. What was different, then?
Part of that difference is in that both Destrubé's and Moon's were live performances. No fantastically recorded CD of whatever baroque orchestra you can name can ever compete (for me) with the actual performance where you can almost see the sound waves bouncing off the large floor flagstones of the church. Since Moon is not only the soloist but the director she has this delightful style of pirouetting (like a Whirling Dervish in slow motion) so she is able to nod to the musicians. In her plain long black skirt and top ( and wearing black silk bedroom slippers) Moon is in gentle command. But this is even more exciting to watch when in the many violin and cello duos (in Summer) Moon approaches the sitting Laura Kramer and the result is as close to what I have seen of a rock guitarist sidling up to the base player for effect.
The pianississimo moments were extra pianississimo and the acoustics of St James' enabled me to listen to secondary sounds emanating from those violins that I had never heard before. And from my front row seat I noticed that in the opening Spring, Moon, Paul Luchkow, and Michelle Speller's violins, mimicked, perfectly, singing birds with the extra help of Moon's eyelashes. They were vibrating bird wings.
But the best came last when Moon played the Winter Largo. She had next to no ornamentation (I like mine with lots of ornamentation). She didn't play it slow (I like mine very slow). The poem that accompanies the Largo has to do with being happily ensconced next to a fireplace while hundreds of people are outside in the rain and the cold. There was no sweetness in Moon's performance here. It was an intelligent statement of the fact, "I am in this warm place and unfortunately most of you are out in the cold."
But there was something else in Moon's performance tha I felt. With her violin she seemed to me to be also saying, "And you, please, come in from that cold and sit here, right next to me."
And so I was seduced.