Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tunes from the crypt!

Similar to the Night of the Arts, the Helsinki Festival had made its way to my ears and a massivore list of entertainments was once again at my fingertips:

Helsinki Festival

This time, however, I was prepared for scanning and discerning. This time...I made a sweet choice.

And luckily Hong Kong P and German K were more than interested in going along with me.

I chose something called, "Ateljee Aimard." I'm sure the name means as much to you as it does to me. (Which is not very much...I'm not even certain what language that is supposed to be in).

Described only as "Superb chamber music in the atmospheric Cathedral Crypt as a part of the Ateljee series. The musicians play valuable instruments owned by Pohjola Bank Art Foundation.", I knew it was something I needed to check out. I mean, how could I not want to listen to (assumedly) classical music in a cathedral crypt? That sounds awesome!

So one day after work I made my way to the appointed crypt, and took a seat. German K (being quite German and timely), had already arrived and we got seats in the front (saving a seat for the ever-late Hong Kong P).

It was to be a concert of piano and violin duos. Quite sexy.

The first duo, admittedly, was a bit strange. I've not listened to this kind of music in awhile (not live, anyway, and certainly not so close...I was probably 3 feet away from the pianist), and it was a bit strange hearing the passionate breathing of both the pianist and the violinist as they played. I guess when I played piano I don't remember needing to breathe so hard. Maybe I was no good. Or I was never taught the appropriate technique.

You could also tell that the first duo was not particularly professional. I don't mean this in an insulting way, just in an observing way. First off, both of them required sheet music. As far as I understood (and have seen), real professionals memorize the pieces they're to play in front of the public. Something to do with professional pride. Second, one of them had a page turner for her sheet music (the pianist), but he was actually no good. A few times she nodded at him to indicate he should turn the page but he somehow missed it, making her huff at him and turn it herself. Eventually she just turned her own pages. Epic page turner fail.

Also, and I hate to say this because in general I'm not a snob about this sort of thing...their clothes were a bit off. Ill-fitting evening wear made of material that didn't sit well. I dunno, it just seemed confusing rather than elegant. I figured at first that this was just an oversight - that perhaps they performed so much that it was too expensive to afford super nice clothing all the time. Then I realized after the sheet music came out that no, they just weren't professionals.

It's all good though, the music was still great to listen to, and I enjoyed it.

Admittedly though, as soon as the second duo came out, this was clearly where it was at.

Hong Kong P and I noticed the violinist's shoes first (it was a man this time, the only male musician of the evening). He had the strangest accent, and despite having a Finnish name, looked somewhat Asian in origin. His shoes were black patent leather with bows. They were slip-ons. Not sure I've ever seen men's dress shoes that have looked this way before. I liked them though, either way. :)

He and his partner were fantastic. No sheet music, played from the soul. This was music that I could, and very much did, lose myself in.

Some of it I even recognized (though I would be at loss to tell you what it was called or who it was by). All of the pieces they played were introduced by the violinist, as though specially picked just for us. Many of them were pieces that were special - ones written by female composers or were the only ones of their kind written by famous composers...in other words, the ones usually forgotten by time. It was wonderful.

Their set lasted for longer than was planned. They just kept playing. "One more..well, just this one more," was the violinist's catch phrase. And it was glorious. They played so much that his violin bow lost several hairs. I was impressed.

Did I mention that this was entirely free as well? Made it even better than it already was. :) Free music in an awesome location. YES Helsinki, your Design Capital status was just raised by a tiny smidgen.

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