Valentine’s Concerts: Cello & Pianola

On Valentine’s Day, we went back to one of our favorite haunts for a 2:00 Saturday concert, the Noorderkerk where the February 1941 Strike was organized, right behind the organic market.

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The music is wonderful and reasonably priced, and usually involves young musicians.  Many people in the audience go almost every time, and it is a quiet group with deep attention.  One warning:  the space is always chilly, and the concerts are only held until it warms up outside, so wear your woolies.  

Valentine’s Day was no exception in focusing on young talent — Lidy Blidorp and Genevieve Verhage on cello, and Mike Fentross on lute and its relatives.  I would never have thought of those instruments  in combination, but they sounded wonderful, with solo opportunities for each.  The theme of love began with Caccini’s Amarilli, mia bella, a song of longing from the early 1600s which could have been written yesterday.  We heard a very difficult solo cello sonata by Kodåly, then back to love with Purcell’s Dido’s Lament, and finally a Boccherini sonata.  A couple of lute pieces were interspersed by Kapsberger and Sanz, so they covered the centuries from early 1500s to the 1960s.  It’s wonderful to see young people thoroughly absorbed in their art.  Lidy is in the foreground, but if you look closely you will see the lutenist listening to her.

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Still wanting even more music, we spent the evening at the Pianola Museum, a collection of player pianos and 30,000 rolls of music kept alive by the dedicated conservator Kasper Janse.  Notice all the rolls of music around the screen.

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Silent films, mostly with a romantic twist, were shown to the accompaniment of either player piano music (can you imagine Scott Joplin recorded that way!) or live piano brilliantly coordinated with the action on the screen.  Our pianist/lecturer Yvo Verschoor was clearly an authority on the subject, and described the days when many theaters had orchestras and/or organs, and virtually all had the piano.  We saw the first people at the Paris World’s Fair in 1900 walk jerkily along by the Eiffel Tower, a few waving their top hats at us; we went through terrifying tunnels; we swooned with Rudolf Valentino and Gloria Swanson; and roared at the witty antics of Chaplin and heartier stunts of Buster Keaton.

The little in-house bar is a wonderful place to relax before or after the programs:

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See also my page elsewhere on these two venues for more information.

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