Monday, August 31, 2020

Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival

So word had been forwarded to me that the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, which is based I think in Detroit, was going to be online and free. So I decided to sign up for this, and for their eight online events over five days they kindly sent me one e-mail a day with links to the YouTube videos. The evening concerts, though only an hour long each, were imaginatively programmed and featured some performers I knew from Menlo. Obviously I couldn't attend the one live event, which featured a work by John Luther Adams performed by musicians spread out over three acres of the Cranbrook School grounds. I've been to one spread-out spatial outdoor concert like this, and didn't find anybody I wasn't standing near to be at all audible, so I doubt this worked very well.

More interesting to me were the morning string quartet interviews, especially because three of the four quartets I knew from Banff (or rather two-and-a-half, since only two of the Rolston's members are still the ones they had when they won top prize at Banff four years ago). The interviews, which were over typically stuttering teleconference software, were all conducted by Philip Setzer, who may be a great chamber music violinist, but he should retire from interviewing. His response to anything the interviewees said by telling some hoary and usually limp anecdote from his own long experience, and the demeaning joshing remarks he'd make to the performers, were fairly painful, and you could see them gritting their teeth to get through it, because they didn't want to be rude to the old guy who could still influence their careers.

But the pre-recorded performances they offered were good, and the best was the Viano Quartet in Mendelssohn's Op. 80. Despite the disconcerting effect of their masks making them look like pirates, they turned in a tight and sizzling performance that shows why they were a Banff competition winner last year. It's still online for a little while: here, have a listen.

Then afterwards the festival sent me one of those useless little surveys, with a subject line on the e-mail reading, "Let us know you're experience with the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival." Oh, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, shame on you.

No comments:

Post a Comment