Thursday, 10 August 2006

Sonata, Partita and Cicada

I wrote exactly two years ago about the pleasures of listening to music al fresco but did not mention any of the things which might detract from one’s enjoyment, like rain or wind or aircraft noise; I discovered another last week.

We went to a piano recital in the grounds of the Château Florens in La Roque d’Anthéron (not a special journey, you understand, we just happened to be hanging around down there). It was given by a 25-year-old pianist called David Fray who played some Beethoven and some Bach rather well. At least, the loud bits sounded quite good, but quieter passages were drowned by the appalling racket made by a bunch of rowdy cicadas; generally, it was like listening to a very old and scratchy recording, or being among an audience most of whom were unwrapping packets of sweets.
Either Fray was one of those pianists whose normal posture involved hunching over the keyboard with his hair almost brushing the keys, or he was trying to hear what he was playing. Anyway, he didn’t seem to be enjoying himself much and gave a rather grumpy encore.
But the weather was lovely and it was an enjoyable evening.

There are thousands of species of cicada (this one is an Apache cicada; they don't get those in Provence). The males make their noise—among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds—by vibrating their tymbals (not by rubbing bits of themselves together like grasshoppers). Apparently, Japanese Haiku poets like to write about them.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Gifted pianist Tom Poster played a lovely concert of short pieces in a stiflingly hot school hall in mid-July Sark. Both immigrants and visitors did enjoy his spirited performance, but the poor man had to play on a pretty dodgy upright school piano.
Wouldn't you have thought that the Seigneur, making all that money from leasing out Brecquou to the odious Barclay brothers, could have dipped into his deep pockets to provide the new school with a decent piano?