<< -- 2 -- Keith Bramich AN AFTER-SUN EXPERIENCE
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 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
Copyright © 31 July 2003
Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK