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Glass Vase Concert in Utrecht, Netherlands

reviewed by Emanuel Overbeeke, musicologist

Each space has its own laws one cannot violate without punishment. The difference between a house concert and a public concert brings to mind a distinction, put into words by W.H. Auden with the best one liner ever written: ‘private faces at public places are wiser and nicer than public faces in private places.’

The musicians who performed at the house concert organised by Anne Ku proved how right and sometimes wrong these laws are. The small house, especially small when full, is ideal for private repertoire that can be expanded as long as the intimacy remains intact, for instance Bach’s Toccata BWV 914 (played by Leonie de Klerk) and Schumann’s Fantasiestücke (by Emile Kaper and Anne Ku).

To challenge the private atmosphere with public music without a public performance, as in Chopin’s Fourth Ballade (Leonie de Klerk) and Haydn’s Piano Sonata nr. 20 (Thijn Vermeulen) provoked mixed feelings. But the violation entirely justified by strength and sincere grandness gave a result that happily transcended the house concert format. Especially contralto Nicky Bouwers in Elgar’s Sea Pictures (with Thijn Vermeulen as a supreme accompanist) and harp player Maria Pozdynakova put extreme mastery of technique at the service of penetrating musicality, the latter in several styles.

To hear the other musicians performing from a relative distance behind doors and walls probably had a distorting effect on the listener. Duo Pan and Carol Ruiz Gandia sounded like an entertaining ensemble, and the Baroque cello duo Stephanie Hunt and Fernando Venturin demonstrated the difficulty of intonation.

Finally for three things completely different: Pianist and composer Henk Alkema and his singer and cellist presented a kind of popular music on poetry heavily influenced by moderate modern classical music. And second, all the people I met (and I knew almost none of the visitors) created a pleasant combination of wit, intelligence, intimacy, truthfulness and openness, as if this were the family of man, often united by music. At a public concert one is in the company of friends and hardly speaking with strangers. The house concert is an ideal occasion to meet new people, possibly, in the long term, with economic consequences.

Emanuel Overbeeke

4 June 2010

Related links:
Monument House Concert Series
live art music in private homes,
since 2006
Guestbook after the Glass Vase Concert
Concertblog, 24 May 2010
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