Sunday, 21 April 2013

Another Thursday, another lunchtime recital

18th April: Zoe Lethbridge - flute and Julian Collings - organ, perform a programme of original works for flute and organ including works by Frank Ferko and JS Bach.

Looking at the options as one o'clock approaches, there's a choice between a single concerto by Brahms at Munster Square, or a selection of pieces for organ and flute at St Pancras Parish Church. The organ is obviously a more enticing prospect. St Pancras recitals start when the church clock strikes a quarter past one, so there's time to get there without bunking off work early, and collect the handout with a couple of minutes to spare. It's up there, the white-haired gent on duty tells everyone as they come in, pointing at an apparently empty corner of the balcony. You'll have to twist round in your seat to see.

That makes for a very odd concert and might explain why people are walking out as well as in. Usually the place is reasonably full, not full as in every seat taken, but maybe fifty people or so. Today the number stabilises at just nineteen people, including me and the man in charge, scattered around the place. Some of them actually are twisted round to see something, but mainly they are just sitting and listening. That's one approach to music: sit well back, maybe close your eyes, and absorb the music. The architecture of the church is interesting, so at least there is something to look at. What I like though, is to watch the performers and get a visual sense that the music doesn't just exist in a vacuum: to actually see the concentration and skill that go into making it happen. The way things are set up this time, that experience is tantalisingly close but never quite realised.

Up in the gallery, where the public isn't allowed to sit, is the organ and the keyboard console, which is a big wooden box set away from the organ pipes, with the organist completely hidden behind it. Our flute player is almost visible, a willowy figure with crazy long hair, but she's hiding behind the music stand and most of the time all you can see is knees and the end of the flute. After a while I get up and walk along the side aisle to see if there is a better viewpoint. There isn't. Once the organ gets going, though, the music makes up for all that.