I haven't been to the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival in quite a few years now. In fact, it's been so long that they changed the name to "Chamberfest" and a second group has started up a similar festival in the city. I used to buy a festival pass every year and trot off to see concert upon concert. But the price of passes went up, along with my frustration with Ottawa audiences (who would give a standing ovation for a dog catching a Frisbee) and my distaste for sitting in stuffy and uncomfortable churches – so I fell out of the habit.
Plus, I no longer had anyone to attend concerts with. My concert-going buddy had similar frustrations with the festival, and even less free time than I. So when my step father said he wanted to go see a concert – his first classical music concert – I was pretty keen. I had enough distance from past festivals to be eager to check out a performance, and had forgotten just how uncomfortable church pews can be!
More than being excited for the concert though, I was happy to get to spend a bit of time with my step father, one-on-one. We visit quite often, but usually in a larger group. With an hour wait in the line-up before the concert, It was nice to just spend some time together visiting.
When we did finally make our way inside, we were in for a treat. He had picked a concert – a violin/piano recital featuring sonatas by Beethoven and Busoni – that was perfect for a couple of reasons:
- All the pieces are pretty traditional in style (i.e. not modern at all) and so were unlikely to put off a new listener.
- The Beethoven is particularly accessible for first-timers – straightforward and not too long – while the Busoni, being more obscure, was perfect for a seasoned listener – something we're not likely to see performed again anytime soon.
- The violinist had a wonderful tone – especially in the softer passages.
- The church, while a bit stuffy, was big enough that the heat wasn't over-bearing (a big problem with chamberfest concerts, and no small feat given last night's high humidity levels!)
All-in-all, the experience was a great success, and G said he'd be happy to go to more recitals in the future. Always nice when your first concert is a pleasant one. I'll keep an eye out for interesting performers coming to town.
As for the music on tap last night, I wasn't familiar with any of it, but that's not a bad thing. The performance was lovely, and I came away with a new favorite: the Adagio movement from Beethoven's violin Sonata number 10. What a gorgeous six minutes of music! here's a performance by two of the greats from the 20th century – Yehudi Menuhin (Violin) and Wilhelm Kempff (Piano).