Thursday, May 14, 2015

Symphonic evening in Amsterdam

For his birthday Kate had given Peter tickets to the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. After eating takeout at the apartment we dressed in the best clothes we brought with us and walked the .9 mile to the historic building where the orchestra plays. The entrance is a modern glass shell around a beautiful old building

. There are strict rules about photography and recording so I have no photos of he interior. 

Kate chose our tickets well. The hall is white with gildied trim, red velvet seats, and crystal chandeliers on the ceiling. There is a horseshoe balcony, but it is only three seats deep. Most of the seats are on the floor.  The exception is the two ranks of about fifteen rows on either side behind the orchestra. We were on the south side to the conductor's left.  We were actually facing Jan Willem de Vriend as he worked his magic, sometimes nearly dancing, sometimes still, always in communication with the outstanding musicians before him. He directed without a baton, and his hands moved expressively in fluid rhythmic strokes. 

The first piece was from a Mozart ballet and it was fast and full of energy. De Vriend seemed to be nearly dancing himself as he directed.  The second was Mozart's 9th Piano Concerto. The stage hands came out and erected a square barrier with red velvet cords.  Then the floor dropped to open a pit from which a period piano forte rose up. The barrier folded back into the stage and the instrument was rolled into position. Then de Vriend and the soloist entered by running down the red staircase to the front of the stage. Kate had described he staircase, how it made entrances dramatic, but also meant that the danger of a slip for a nervous performer was a real fear.  There were no slips this time. Kristian Bezuidenhout was the young pianist who worked his magic on the keyboard.  He played with great emotion and sensitivity. The cadenzas were stunning, especially since the instrument was less powerful than a modern piano.  I held my breath as the sweetness of Mozart filled the air. It was a magical performance, and th audience called him back here times before the intermission 

We went into the cafe for drinks.  

The final piece was Schubert's First Symphony, which was also played with great skill and lyricism. The wood winds had a chance to show their stuff this time. We walked home after the concert and slept with music in our dreams. 

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