Sunday 26 August 2007

Still got that magic

Wednesday 15th brought a packed Usher Hall to hear Alfred Brendel in recital. He played a Haydn sonata, Beethoven's op.110 (which was magical), two Schubert impromtus and Mozart's sonata K457 (and received a standing ovation from the young boy in the row in front - who was rather better behaved than his parents). Brendel's playing was magical, and impressive for his age, though this is now starting to show slightly. One cannot help but feel that some of his pauses are less for dramatic effect and more for memory.

But any quibbles are minor, he is still enthralling, and his ability to make the huge Usher Hall fell like an intimate chamber venue is impressive. I think it likely I may pop over to Glasgow to hear him when he visits in February.

Since then, I've been so busy at the Fringe I've done nothing else at the international. In that context I've seen little that is of note musically. However, the other Thursday, after heading to the pub for a drink with several staff from the venue, we once again made our way to the jazz bar. There we heard the magnificent Tony Monaco Organ Trio (the organ in question being a hammond). They were wonderful - the range of tones and colours they produced and their quality as an ensemble (in some ways reminiscent of the unity of voice that Bill Evans' trio achieved in the early 60s).

Of the Fringe shows I've seen (though most will by now have finished), I can thoroughly recommend Plested and Brown's very silly (but most enjoyable) comedy Minor Spectacular and recommend you stay away from Diet of Worms on Melted Ice. The gimmick of a swimming pool is not sufficient to make up for lacklustre sketches and if I tell you there's one involving a farmer, a sack of grain, a fox and a chicken and another spoofing Quantum Leap, with Sam screaming "That's Ziggy's answer to everything!" after being advised to kiss the gangster who's trying to drown him, then you've seen the good bits. Mark Watson was very funny, as was Josi Long (Trying is Good) whose comedy was unusually nice, and deserves extra points for five minutes on Quakers.

I felt a little sorry for Vallimar Jensen who sung Ethel Waters wonderfully. Stuck in a slightly out of the way venue, which sounded like a herd of elephants lived above, and unfortunately listed in the theatre section of the programme as opposed to the musical theatre, she had a much smaller audience than she deserved.

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