Music and Vision homepage 'Elgar and Chivalry' by Robert Anderson - available now from Elgar.org

 

<<  -- 2 --  Keith Bramich    AN AFTER-SUN EXPERIENCE

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Eight formally-dressed and rather serious-looking young men, in a close semi-circle, centred the first half of their concert on mainstream 'classical' fare -- music by Gounod, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Saint-Saëns and Sibelius -- but topped and tailed by lesser-known music. To begin, two pieces by Kranjska-born Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591): Ascendit Deus, fast and madrigal-like, and the solemn chordal O Salutaris Hostia. Before the interval, music by three Slovenian composers spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries -- Zorko Prelovec (1887-1939), Fran Gerbic (1840-1917) and Janko Ravnik (1891-1982).

The Slovene Octet acknowledging applause at the end of their concert in the visually striking Rector's Palace Atrium at the 2003 Dubrovnik Festival. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich
The Slovene Octet acknowledging applause at the end of their concert in the visually striking Rector's Palace Atrium at the 2003 Dubrovnik Festival. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich

The group seemed rather more at ease in the second half, consisting mostly of traditional songs from Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden, but beginning with music by two twentieth century Slovenian composer/conductors -- the lush harmonies of Pjesma Galebu by Rado Simoniti (1914-81) and the light and humorous V Gorjah Zvoni by Bojan Adamic (1912-1995). A jazzy arrangement by Mario Rijavec of the folksong O Waly Waly -- also set by Benjamin Britten -- highlighted some problems with the group's diction, at least when singing in English.

The concert ended (apart from three generous encores) with Lind(z)o -- a short piece by Dubrovnik-born composer, music critic and lawyer Vladimir Berdovic (1906-80) -- a re-working of a movement from the orchestral suite Kroz stare dubrovacke ulice (Through the streets of Dubrovnik). According to programme note writer D Detoni, the piece mimics the sound of the lirica, a folk instrument from the Dubrovnik region. Fast and (mostly) quiet, with sectional solos and occasional shouts, it sounded to me like the depiction of a rather eventful ride on a four-legged animal. I didn't see any horses in Dubrovnik, but the old walled town is delightfully free of motorised vehicles of any sort, and many of the smooth light cobble stones (worn down by centuries of busy feet) form the floor for improvised al fresco restaurant tables, often even in the narrowest of streets.

Dining out al fresco on Dubrovnik's side streets. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich
Dining out al fresco on Dubrovnik's side streets. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich

 

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Copyright © 31 July 2003 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK

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