Monday, December 3, 2012

C'est Pas Classique

Vadim Repin, C'est Pas Classique
Last night I went along to the closing concert of "C'est Pas Classique", the oh-so-poplar-music festival held every year  in Nice.... wherein so many quirky and excellent musical offerings are performed free of charge over three or four days.  

The only drawback, of course, is this same popularity.    The rain discouraged me for the first several days of the festival,  but I was determined to join some pals to wait in line for the final concert in the vast "Apollon" hall. 

We were especially excited to be hearing the Siberian violinist, Vadim Repin, who is reputed to be one of the greatest violinists of our century.  

He was to be accompanied by the L'Orchestre Regional de Cannes PACA conducted by Philippe Bender for the final concert.  This is an orchestra with many accolades, an orchestra well respected in Europe. 

Let me tell you the little story of our adventure .  It's in the details.

We met up from three different quarters by bus and tram to descend upon the Acropolis which boasts a very large auditorium of 2500 seats.  

The idea was that the concert was to start at 20h00 (8pm) but to insure a decent seat in the front or middle of the Apollon Theatre we needed to be in line by 18h15.  We were indeed, and to make the wait more palatable we procured a square meter of space and plopped ourselves down.    

I have alluded in former posts about an entrenched attitude about the "way we do it" in France.  I recently told about trying to order a double coffee.  There is a slowly changing mind set, that there is one right way to do things and that is the way "we have always done it".   The "sotto voce" implication being that there is no other way.  

Now with a "whip lash" problem, I have found that standing or sitting in one position too long provokes unwelcome twinges so I didn't want to sit on the floor just to be contrary. I just didn't think that I could stand that long.

But within a few minutes of sitting down on the floor in the queue there was a woman behind us covering my friends head with her coat, moving uncomfortably close to us and fuming.  

  One of my friends pointed out that the coat was covering my friend's head and "La chère madame" pulled back her full force to release her complaint.  ..."We were being ridiculous, taking the place of 10 people."  ( Obviously, even if we were, we could not take ten seats in the auditorium so she would still get in.)   My friend politely asked her to have some respect for others .  

At the former outburst,  another French lady sat right down on the floor and began to chat with us.  We all procured glasses of wine from the nearby snack vendor and I pulled out a bag of vegetable chips and shared it around.  Then other French people began to chat with us and the angry lady was eclipsed by an elderly man fainting just nearby. 

My new French friend brought the paramedic and my  American friend brought water from the stand nearby.  It was eagerly given to her as we all pooled our energies to clear a space for the man to breathe.    I loved seeing our little international group responding so quickly.   Then the line began to move.

I have to say our seats were rather high up but excellent.  At least we weren't in the highest balcony called "paradise" which is not recommended for a good experience.  ( Take a look at the comments to see the program of the evening)

 During the concert I went from vague bliss to concentration.  I watched the bare arm of a young violinist and saw how her wrist was turned just so.  I observed the percussionist go from castanets to base drum to snare in the blink of an eye.  

I swooned over the oboe solos.  I puzzled over the removal of the score by a journeyman before the conductor emerged.   This taking away and putting back of the podium with a score on it happened three or four times.   I think it is a point of pride when the conductor conducts from memory.  Otherwise I couldn't fathom this ceremony.  

The Russian violinist, Vadim Repin,  is indeed extraordinary.  He played for over an hour without a score.  He played with delicious sensitivity and panache.  He put his "impetuous" personality into it while still respecting the pieces as they were laid down.  Here's an excerpt from the site of C'est pas Classique:

"Vadim Repin impressionne son public international par sa virtuosité, son expressivité inépuisable, son jeu d’une incroyable variété de timbres et sa technique magistrale. Cette technique parfaite, ce tempérament fougueux et la poésie de ses interprétations, caractérisent cet artiste hors du commun.
Vadim Repin impresses international audiences with his virtuosity,  inexhaustible expressiveness, his playing of an incredible variety of tones and masterly technique.  This perfect technique,  his fiery temperament and the poetry of his interpretations characterize this extraordinary artist."

For those of us who have practiced violin, Vadim showed off his actual violin language to great affect with a short ditty seducing the other strings into a pizzicato serenade advancing into the most amazing violin gymnastics I had ever seen.    All this was done to the tune of  the old German folk song and children's game: " My hat it has three corners"...  This piece of frivolity was of course just the encore piece but it was fun.

 I felt transported as only good music can transport.  Was I really stoned on two glasses of white wine or is it so crucial for our "ame" to hear classical music well rendered.   I think the latter.  I once had a class from an excommunicated priest.   We discovered in the class that there are certain vibrations that resonate with the human psyche and body.  Studies have shown that the Latin mass and most classical musical pieces fall into this category. 

Even now I feel like my writing is taking on an old fashioned
tenor,  as if there are some kinds of settings that require more respect than others.  The concert hall must be one of them.       

Was it worth the long wait with 2500 other patient 
music enthusiasts,   Definitely, it was.... but international connection and friendship made it even more delectable. 

1 comment:

  1. Some of my music lovers want to know what the program was that night:
    Beethoven, Ouverture of Coriolan en C minor,
    opus 62 Prokofiev, Symphonie classique ;
    Concerto n°2 in G minor pour violin et orchestre, opus 63 Bizet, Symphonie en C major.