Disappointing cello concert

I was looking forward to last night’s cello concert in the nearby village of Molières.  The cellist, Philippe Henry, is from Montpellier where he has a good reputation, and the programme was predominantly Bach.  But I was disappointed – and frozen.

Henry was presenting a mainly baroque programme, playing on a standard cello and a modern copy of a baroque styled cello.  He played one of the movements from Bach’s first suite, which I attempted to play many times and so know well, first on the baroque cello and then on the standard modern one.  It confirmed my already growing prejudice, that I don’t really like baroque cellos.  I know it is not probably correct to say so, but I prefer the rich tone and versatility of a modern cello – and I think Bach would have appreciated its possibilities too.

I also didn’t like the way Henry interpreted the suite.  Even when playing on the modern cello he played as if constrained by the technical limitations of an old cello and to my ears the music was jerky and lacking in richness of interpretation.  Bring back the non-politically correct, maybe, performances I love by Rostroprovich and Janos Starker in particular.

The music was accompanied by a graphic artist ‘performing’ on some sort of acetate sheets projected onto the wall.  She was extraordinarily gifted, but I found it irritating to watch her designs – it took my attention away from the music.

There was a wedding going on in the wonderful old silk building – the ‘filature’ – which is where concerts usually take place.  Instead we were in the protestant ‘temple’, a few yards up the road from the catholic church.  The interior had been done up since I last saw it, but my goodness, it was austere: a simple, white building, with just the pastor’s pulpit in front.  Worst of all, there was no heating and, on the coldest evening for quite some time, it was freezing!

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