4 December 2014

Celebrating a Trio of Czechoslovak Musical Anniversaries at the Slovak Embassy

The classical music that I hear live these days is almost always at operas and it is nice to add to this the recitals that the Slovak Embassy hosts from time to time. I also like the venue and the other people who go there.

The occasion this time was a recital arranged by the British Czech and Slovak Association (BCSA) to celebrate three musical anniversaries, though I suspect that was something of a contrivance to justify the programme; which was Martinů's Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano, Janáček's Wind Sextet Mládí and Smetana's Piano Trio in G minor. As the billing suggests, these were three very different pieces played by three different groups.

I was aware of the composers and knew something of their works but only a little and none of these pieces. That did not worry me at all as, generally, I like Chamber Music for its simplicity and clarity (I like Minimalism for much the same reasons) so I was pretty sure that I would like this music. And I did.

The Janáček surprised me a little by sounding what I previously thought of as whimsical English music from the likes of Walton but readily admit that my knowledge of musical history is only one step above non-existent.  The Smetana was more like I expected with hints of traditional folk songs.

The concert lasted a touch over the hour and then it was the second part of the evening with conversations and refreshments.

As usual the Slovak Embassy put on a tremendous reception and there was soon a long queue for the food. I preferred to talk and to look at the art, the Slovak Embassy always has good art too. The high ceilings and concrete walls are a good setting for large bold pieces, like these.

I was especially pleased to be able to spend a good while talking to the wind quintet, Quintitus. They are from Paris so we started about why a French group were performing Czech music. From there we moved on to French music (not my strong point) and then on to opera houses (a little better). One of them was hoping to go to Glyndebourne that Summer and they convinced me to try the opera in Paris, an idea that was had to reject having admitted that I would be going to Ghent to see Akhenaten. It was an unexpected conversation in many ways and was all the better for being so.

There were other people to talk to and other things to talk about; there was some wine to drink too. I even found some bread and cheese to nibble on, not that I was that interested in food.

But all good things must come to an end and after a while people started to drift away and I slowly ran out of new people to talk to. Then I has somewhere else to be too and I made my excuses and drifted out toward Notting Hill Gate station and a District Line train.

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