Requiem by J. Rutter, performed by the KCOV and the Promenade orkest @ Het Concertgebouw, AmsterdamPosted: 26 May 2012
Going to the Concertgebouw is an entire experience in itself. First, the people in the audience. The average age is above 40 – at the very least – and everyone is dressed impeccably. I felt a bit self conscious, as I had gone to the Concertgebouw right after clinical skills training and I was dressed in a comfortable pair of black jeans with a pink shirt. Secondly, the building. It is a beautiful monumental building. I don’t know anything about architecture, but there were all kinds of engravings/bas reliefs in the walls and it really felt like a castle or something like that. The concert hall is surrounded by a long corridor and has entrances at each side – the entire atmosphere in the building is a setting of long past times, when people still travelled by horse carriage.
Then the concert hall itself – now I finally understand all this talk about accoustics. Before the concert, I wondered whether the harp would be amplified – the sounds of tuning the harp didn’t carry over the hundreds of conversations that were taking place. However, when everyone shut up and the music started, even the slightest whisper could be heard throughout the hall. Two people in front of us decided to comment on the music and a lot of people turned their heads and glared. The harp was clearly audible, even more than on the recordings which I’d listened. I always like it when I discover new aspects of music I know by heart – just like I immensely enjoy hearing the basslines during an Equilibrium live show (somehow, the bass lines are much less discernible on CD).
Still, this musical experience differs a lot from going to a metal concert. I’m used to enjoying music with all of my body – listening to the music (with ear plugs in, of course. Wouldn’t want to miss a grade 1 murmur…), moving to the music, clapping and cheering on the musicians. During a good concert by a good band, you forget that your legs hurt due to waiting for five hours – they manage to sweep you away. In a concert hall, you wouldn’t even think about moving to the music – you’re sitting rigidly in a chair and listening intently without tensing one muscle.
This makes enjoying a classical concert a very mental endeavor – it’s all happening in your head, you need to surrender yourself to the music in another way. Especially during the pieces I didn’t know well (Mass in C, Ave Verum), eventually my throughts drifted off and I found myself thinking about something completely else. And yet… there is this special athmosphere, the focused attention – in this suspended state of mind, where everyone submerges themselves in the music, there is also a kind of ‘togetherness’. An experience I wouldn’t want to miss.
Regarding the actual performance – it turned out that the choir consisted of professional amateurs. They sung very well but they were often just a little bit too late or too early. I didn’t notice this myself – I only ‘felt’ that the Requiem felt ‘off’ at some times – but my friend, who is really into choral music, said it was because of the choir’s timing. Quite interesting because they didn’t make actual mistakes… but it really diminishes the impact of the goose-bump moments in the music.
The music was great. I really liked it that the musicians were really playing together, not just playing their part but really playing as if they were ‘one’. And the harp! What a wonderful sound. This was the first time I heard a concert harp in a performance – absolutely awesome!!!
Finally, a youtube clip I wanted to share – apparently, one orchestra didn’t like this static playing thing so they made an entire choreography to be performed during playing. So everyone walks while playing (apart from the poor harpists…), sometimes they form groups, or ‘battle’ each other. All of this really suits the rather calm pace of the music. I think it’s a great way to express classical music.