If my Dutch were better, I would have realized that the piano program at the Recital Hall of the Concertgebouw involved a lecture first, especially since it was titled “Music, Imagination and the Brain.” We swept into our seats at 8:15 precisely, ready for a glorious Schubert sonata. Instead, Erik Scherder, a professor of psychology, entertained us even in Dutch (of which we have only scattered words), as we speculated about what his slides of the brain might mean. He’s a thin man with white hair and trimmed beard and a vivacious manner. We were amazed to see a brief film of an Alzheimer’s patient playing a complex classical piano piece; the slide was titled “Unforgettable?”
When the music began, it was well worth the wait. Katia Veekmans emerged in a gown that was the exact opposite of the subdued décor around her: a tall woman with a fine figure wrapped in bright red crushed silk, a strapless gown that fitted close to her body until it broke into two wide ruffles at the bottom, caught up in a huge bow-like flower. A dreamy Schubert sonata, fiery Liszt, clanging Bartok and lively Prokofiev, punctuated by an intermission with wine or soft drinks for everyone, included in the price of the tickets. Under the glittering chandeliers in the lounge, who could resist?
After the concert, most people climb onto their bicycles or the tram, also free with your ticket. In an era of global warming, that’s my idea of civilization.