One of my treats for this week was to go to see David Helfgott in concert at the Tonhalle. David Helfgott is an australian pianist and was the subject of the film Shine which came out about 10 years ago.
Helfgott played Rachminanov's piano concert no.3. It was just wonderful. The Tonhalle was jammed full, people standing and I had the worst seat in the house - right at the back of the gallery behind a pillar. But even so it was just amazing. One of those cathartic concerts where you just breathe the music in and it hits you in the emotional and physical solar plexus. Shivers down the back, a few tears and a general feeling of deep contentment and wellbeing. I love the way that music can affect me like that.
Of course, it helps that (classical music wise) I'm a complete romantic at heart. Big orchestra, big sweeping sounds, a rich, full, orgasmic tone and I'm anybody's - especially Rachmaninov's (or Tchaikovsky's!). The Tonhalle is a lovely building. From outside it looks modern, but inside it's over the top rococco pillars, ceiling paintings and benches. What it lacks in audience comfort, it made up for in atmosphere....
David Helfgott appeared small and frail and took a long time to come on and off stage because he kissed and hugged and talked to most of the orchestra and the front row of the stalls. But his playing was phenomenal. After the interval the orchestra alone played Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony - which starts and finished with the double basses - hurrah!
The only downside to the evening was the audience. I don't think I've ever experienced a worse public. Shuffling, restless, murmerings, entering and leaving the auditorium during the concert, clapping wildly in the wrong place, standing in the aisles even though there were seats free. I could go on, but it would disturb me too much.
But all in all a lovely evening and it reminds me that I'm so grateful for the gift of music (without turning too Abba like!) I appreciate the fact that I've played in orchestras, that I can listen to music and understand it on so many levels - from sheer enjoyment, to a critical harmonic level, from a historical / cultural understanding to an appreciation of the performance itself. And I'm glad that music can still touch me on such a base, personal level.