POSTCARDS FROM PARIS
Merchant Taylors' Hall
Mozart in D, K 575
War-damaged St Olave's (Pepys's church) is a splendid place to listen to music, with a lively lunchtime recital series.
Artur Pizarro's delectable hors d'eouvre was mainly of , salon pieces unlikely to have been known to the audience, some of whom walked briskly round to the Merchant Taylors' Hall for the Tokyo Quartet's recital a quarter-hour afterwards...
Samples from each of the 'Les Six' composers (early 20 C, undated in the programme book) demonstrated their differences, with Honegger the odd one out, his music serious and, here, relating closely to Bach's. Milhaud's early sonata is characteristic with his piquant bimodal harmonies, runbustious passages (a little over-pedalled?) interposed with tenderness. Poulenc's pieces showed why he has survived as the most durable of the group, his complex musical personality juxtaposing religiosity with vivacious clowning.
No canonic master works; but a good programme for connoisseurs and "collectors" of unusual repertoire; just what festivals should do. Recorded for BBCR3 transmission next month.
The City's guild halls are revelatory; Merchant Taylors' is sumptuous inside, a huge high, panelled hall with excellent acoustics for the now very international Tokyo String Quartet, according with the Festival's Anglo/Japanese theme this year.
For the interval, we took our glasses of wine outdoors to watch a delicious display of contemporary Japanese fashion around the pond in the central courtyard, modelled by students of the Bunka School and the London Colleges of Fashion, accompanied by Taiko drummers! A unique and unforgettable evening.
© Peter Grahame Woolf