Friday, August 19, 2005

In the Air

Spent part of the day before yesterday visiting a new music school opening here, co-owned and managed by a violinist who worked part-time at my university. Apart from that of fresh paint, there was the scent of... prospects. Taking up a challenge, and venturing out. Doing something new, the process of creation, and that of something significant, and with a personal touch. Even though it didn't have anything to do with me, that sense of energy was nice to be around, to roam the rooms of various sizes - and shapes - and see how what could be is on its way to what will be.

Speaking of what's in the air, Teng Jian is in the air too, on a Singapore Airline flight to the US to his studies in physics. Congratulations, good luck, and cheers!

Thursday was the one day off from rehearsals, likely due to the two concerts in town, and either the interest of members to watch, or - more likely - that the musicians were playing in one of those concerts too. It never ceases to surprise me how our Southeast Asian music communities like the concept of new orchestras, with limited musicians and worse, limited audiences. And yet, having been in orchestral management and having dealt with music politics, I can also see why collaboration is easier as a concept than as actual action. Personally, playing in orchestras are ok for me, but chamber music is - what's the phrase? - the real McCoy.

I've been fortunate enough to play in music from duos to a septet, and hopefully will find the opportunity to play the Mendelssohn Octet - which the Emerson Quartet was crazy enough to record without inviting any guests, but rather recording themselves twice! At a premium too, one would think, at 2,000 baht for the box set of quartets and the octet. Also, Sabine Meyer's ensemble decided to rearrange the Beethoven septet for winds only, comprising nine players in the first time I've ever heard the use of the word "nonet" which really does sound like something else from "Extreme Baking With Mak Enak". Campurlah nonet sama sama dengan longan dan biarlah bakar dalam hutan. Kan?

But I had enough restraint not to buy the Mendelssohn or the nonet at the store on my off day. (Pats self on back). Well, perhaps no cheers for restraint but at least for more practical sense in finally buying the box set of Mozart featuring Augustin Dumay, the only time I've seen CDs cheaper here than in Malaysia. This brings the count of original Sinfonia Concertante recordings to 11 (plus the full score, and solo scores!), and the second one of Dumay, this time with Gerard Causse, who has a magnificent sound with his 400-year old viola. Freaking four centuries, wowzers. Plus there's the divertimento in E flat, and the two violin-viola duos. Yummy!

My colleague and I may try out the second less exhibitionist and somewhat more charming duo, and I hope that we'll find some of that delicious not-quite-of-the-nonet-variety energy in the air.

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