An insight into two concerts in Germany.
Bielefeld: After a frantic journey by train I arrived at this concerts with minutes to spare,
found my seat in the auditorium and eagerly awaited the sound from the depths of “ready to rumble”.
They were lead out onto the stage by Nigel, all young musicians, supplemented by members of the NK Quintet,
Doug Boyle on guitar and Orphy Robinson on Marimbafon and Vibrafon.
The concert started with Bach’s A Major concerto with a difference, the classical score had been embellished with jazz overtures.
This worked wonderfully with beautiful playing from Doug Boyle, Orphy Robinson and Krzystof Dziedzic.
The second piece was Duke Ellington’s “In a Jam” followed by “In a Mellow Tone” and “Prelude to a Kiss” which was my favourite.
I am not familiar with the Duke Ellington pieces, so I am not able to say too much about the contents other than
to say they were superbly performed by all the musicians.
By now it was time for the interval and Nigel asked how long we wanted 15 or 20 minutes?
Just before he let us go he told a story about Duke Ellington’s love of fried chicken and the consequences of eating too much!
We all know what Nigel’s sense of humour is like but I don’t think the audience appreciated the joke.
There was deathly silence after he had finished.
They were a rather staid lot!
They just didn’t lighten up all evening.
After a welcome drink I returned to enjoy more wonderful music.
Bach two-part inventions played by Nigel and a young cellist called Beata, these beautiful pieces
for two musicians are some of my personal favourite bits of Bach.
Another treat to follow was Nigel and Mariusz Pedzialek duo with a movement from Bach’s concerto for oboe
their playing was brilliant and the audience started to come alive at this point.
Mariusz continued on with an Ellington piece as the mood swung back from classical to jazz.
They played “Harlem Airshaft”, “Come Sunday, “Cotton Tail” and finally a very hard piece according
to Nigel “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue”.
The audience clapped politely at the end of the concert, but he didn’t get the standing ovation
he usually receives, which was pity, as he and all of the musicians played brilliantly!
Not to be deterred, Nigel came back out again and played a Bach solo as an encore.
Dortmund: This concert started with a totally different opening from the previous evening in Bielefeld.
Ellington was firmly in charge from the onset.
“In a Jam” followed by “In a Mellow Tone”, by now I’m beginning to recognise these wonderful atmospheric tunes from the 1930’s
and loving the interpretation Nigel has given them adapting them for full orchestra.
The audience react totally differently really appreciating the mood and go with all the changes in styles encompassed within the music.
We then had the Bach two-part inventions and back to Ellington’s “Harlem Airshaft”.
Just before the interval Nigel said he would tell us a joke which might offend some people.
He decided to go ahead anyway as he does and I think he regretted it almost immediately.
It was very crude and the audience were not amused!
Before they were with him and then afterwards they were not.
He came back to subdued applause and had to work extremely hard in the second half to win them round.
Started off with the beautiful “Prelude to a Kiss” which he said he had forgotten to play in the first half.
We then went back to Bach with the oboe concerto and a lovely treat he introduced a young Australian violinist,
Sonja Schebeck who he had met on his Australian tour and they played the last movement of the Bach double concerto.
She is a young musician to watch out for in the future as she was really good!
We were now in for a real treat, a composition written by Nigel called Shhh the title of his latest CD.
Loved this piece, and the audience started to forgive him for his mistake in the first half.
Finished off with “Diminuendo and Crescendo” the very hard piece!
Well we thought that was the last piece: Nigel came back onto the stage and announced they would play
the last movement of Bach E Major concerto very fast or extremely fast how did we want it played?
The answer was very fast.
At the end of the concert everyone was up on there feet and I felt so happy for him as there had been some “sticky moments“,
but somehow he had managed to redeem himself.
We were then treated to two encores, the slow movement from Bach’s A Minor concerto which was just sublime
and my favourite which always makes me feel like crying “Danny Boy” (Londonderry air).
Two fantastic nights, both totally different in content and atmosphere but unforgettable.
I forgot all about my problems of how was I going to leave Germany because of the volcanic ash.
(Well that is another story)