The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Sep 30, 2008

Unequal Musick

What a difference 50 pence make! Last week, I was at Queen Elizabeth Hall, part of the Southbank Centre, attending a rather neat violin concert. For a measly £12, I had a wonderful seat in the middle of the auditorium, with excellent visibility of the stage and no need either to stick a trumpet in my ear or opera glasses on my face. Viktoria Mullova sawed away at the violin with great enthusiasm and considerable skill. Kristian Bezuidenhout accompanied her on the piano with much wagging of eyebrows and delicate plinking of the keyboard. (Wearing suspenders and a bit plump, Mr Bezuidenhout looked like a schoolboy, boyishly enthusiastic and energetic.) I came away feeling elevated, energised, a cultural vulture.

Listen to Bezuidenhout here.

Last night, I was at the Barbican, attending the last of the Ramadan Nights concerts. For £11.50, I was perched so high up on the balcony that I suffered a nosebleed; the singers and dancers of the Touareg troupe Tartit clapped and sang and danced at a great distance; and if I leaned back at my seat to be comfortable, I couldn't see a thing. Tartit were pretty good, but I had to lean forward so much that my back gave way and the only percussion I could follow was the pounding of blood in my ears. At the intermission, after the Touaregs had taken their last bows, I began to flag. My neck hurt and my eyeballs popped from the strain of staring; I had pins and needles up and down my spine, so I left. And I missed out most of Bassekou Kouyate's Malian folk and blues, which is what I had been interested in to begin with.

Lesson learned: Pay double at the Barbican for a good time. Sigh.

Anyway, check out Tartit in action:

And here's the great man Bassekou Kouyate himself:


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