Sunday, 24 July 2011

Festival Guitares en Cormatinois

The Guitares en Cormatinois concert season has ended, all the planning and preparing of flyers and posters, delivering and posting them in strategic places has been done, collecting and putting out chairs, shifting grand pianos and manning the ticket sales is all over and we have our Saturday evenings back ! But we have really enjoyed the last few months of work and in particular the last month of concerts. The series used to be dedicated to bringing guitar music to “the people” but has now moved on to include a wider range of artists playing different instruments. Never-the-less there are always guitars somewhere in the series. This year three out of the five concerts were with guitar.

The first concert was with Alexander Baty who played the trumpet amazingly and at just 27 he has a very promising career ahead of him, he has already landed a job with the Amsterdam Concert Gebouw Orkest one of the top three orchestras in the world. His accompanist Véronique Goudia did a sterling job on the piano, but the acoustics of Cormatin Church let her down and so what should have been echoing sounds coming from the piano were rather tinny. Even so, the concert was excellent and very enjoyable.

On the 2nd July, Emmanuel Rossfelder (who is a yearly crowd-puller) was playing the Concerto d’Aranjuez with a group of 18 flutists. The open air venue of the ruin of St Hippolyte Deanery was a superb backdrop to the concert, but I must agree with Cees’ son when he heard what we were going to see when he said “does anyone need to listen to 18 flute players playing the Concerto d’Arajuez?” A number of the group had difficulty keeping pace with the music and hitting the high notes and this did not bring out the best in Rossfelder who somehow seemed to lose interest during the proceedings – a pity as he is really a superb player.

Adèle Bracco (vocals) and Thierry Moncheny (guitar) were supposed to also have had the open-air venue for their Brazilian Jazz concert but sadly, due to rain, they had to be moved to Bonnay church which had disastrous acoustics. No matter what they did during the sound check they could not get a clear sound beyond the third pillar and as volunteers we seat ourselves at the last minute and way back in the church. Whilst the music I could actually hear wasn’t exactly to my taste, I thought it was a good idea to include a guitar with a different music style to the purely classical that the festival tends towards.

The “local” venue for us was when Gérard Poulet (violin) and Dimitris Saroglou (piano) played Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms sonatas in Chazelle church. Although it is a somewhat scruffy looking church from the inside, the acoustics were sublime and the music was of a world-class standard. Normally towards the end of a concert I am fidgeting because of the ubiquitously un-comfy seats, but this concert kept me enthralled and I forget to even think about my numb bottom ! We were rewarded by two well received encores.

The last concert of the season was last night in Malay church. A lovely little Romanesque church a few minutes outside Cormatin. We have seen a number of concerts there, but we have always been early and sat on the plastic chairs placed at the front of the church or in the first row. Sitting at the back, the pews were absolutely “unsittable” and whilst the sound was still excellent, I had to move and walk around for a bit as the I started to get a serious pain in my back. In the end I found myself a cosy little spot behind a pillar and as I am too short to ever see the performers in a concert unless I am right at the front, it didn’t actually bother me at all not being able to see anything. What was amazing was that even though I was more than 20 meters away from the guitar player with at least two pillar between us, I could actually hear him breathing, so impressive are the acoustics in this venue. In any case Trio Alto (guitar, violin and cello) delighted the audience to an evening of soft classical music that I can only describe as light, romantic chamber-like music. The guitar was strung and played in such a way that it sounded very much like a harpsichord which beautifully accompanied this style of music. Once I had found my comfy spot, I could have listened to them all night.

All in all a good series, 3 out of 5 concerts were out of this world and even though I could have lived without the other two, the St-Hippolyte venue was worth it for the ambiance. Now all we have to do is start the planning and organising for next year !

Our accommodation near Cluny and Taizé: La Tuilerie Website

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