An Octet of Random Thoughts

Here is an octet of random thoughts about an octet of cellos (and a post script as an encore).

Where did that sellout come from?

We have had very good audiences this year, all about the same size. There was a difference of only 14 people between our largest and smallest audience before now. And then this. We could have sold many more seats, based on the number of inquiries, had the building held more. Ô-Celli is not a famous name. Eight cellos is an intriguing idea. Our previous concert was fantastic, but all the new people were not there to hear it. Maybe word gets around. Our advertising was no different for this concert. Maybe you have some ideas. Quite frankly, I’m puzzled (in a very good way, mind you).

Aahhh!!!

When Ô-Celli opened with the Verdi overture, the deep, rich sound cascaded over me as if I was in a warm, soapy bath or nestled under a downy quilt. It was comforting.

French Accents

Narrations are always better if the narrator has an accent. And better still if the narrator has a sense of humor. I loved Alexandre’s commentary, even if the accent was a little too strong for me to understand in places. I’m sure the parts I missed were even funnier.

La Strada

After hearing Rota’s theme, I want to see that movie.

 

Musical Chairs

I wonder why they traded places after every song. It was great. We saw a new octet every time. From my angle, I could see only four of them well, so I appreciated the chance to watch each of them closely as the evening progressed. Maybe each seat had a role to play. It seemed to me that the fourth seat back on the left had more than its share of weird sound effects.

 

Milonga del Angel

 

During that piece there was a passage when it sounded exactly as if I were listening to a bandoneon. That’s the instrument Alexandre told us about. It shares many characteristics with an accordion, and it steered Piazzolla’s musical career into an entirely new direction at the prompting of his legendary teacher Nadia Boulanger.

Critical Points

 

Alexandre identified the contemporary composition as a critical point in the concert. I can understand why. But Fa Do by Oriol Cruixent (I still don’t know how to pronounce that because each of them said it differently) was just great fun. He reimagined the cello as a percussion instrument.

 

Arturo Marquez

 

I absolutely loved his Danzon No. 2. Any thoughts of comforting down quilts were long gone by this time. That gorgeous melody with its syncopated rhythms surged back time and again in waves that threatened to wash me out of my seat.

 

Post Script

 

I talked to Danielle, the agent for Ô-Celli, on the empty stage after the concert. She recounted to me what she had heard from one of the musicians. “The audience was engaged before we played a single note. They just drew the music out of us.”

 

John Wiebe

Valley Concert Society