Last night we went to the Cullen Theater to hear a performance of all six of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos by Mercury Baroque. At one time or another on the stage were eight violins, three violas, three cellos, two viola da gambas (or should that be violas da gamba?), a violone, a flute, two recorders, three oboes, a trumpet, two horns, a harpsichord, and a conductor when he wasn’t playing the viola da gamba. There were a lot of firsts in it for me. One was that I’d never seen so many musicians standing to play rather than sitting; another was that I’d never heard period instruments played live; another was that I’d never heard the Brandenburgs played live. We’ve all heard the Brandenburgs so many times in our lives — in commercials, in movies, even in elevators — but I never realized how difficult they are to play. And another was that John was not ready to leave at the intermission! He was enjoying this concert a whole lot.
John and I were lucky enough to get discounted tickets from one of the violinists, Maria, who practises Bikram Yoga every morning at the South Boulevard studio. Having watched her stand and play for three hours I can see why. Friends, Kevin and Callie were up in the mezzanine and had a good view, as you can see from this picture Kevin snapped with his cell phone. Bad bad!
The music was absolutely wonderful. My favourite was No. 2. That’s the one with the trumpet in it. I love trumpets! And this one had no valves, which obviously made it a lot more difficult to play. A close second favourite was (I think) No. 5, with an amazing harpsichord cadenza(?) played by Sebastian Knebel.