Thursday, 19 April 2018

Fiddling for Spring

Not for the first time, we went to Wardown House, in Wardown Park, perhaps Luton’s most attractive spot, for a concert at the weekend.

I made the mistake of telling my granddaughter we were going to a concert, and she responded with some enthusiasm, ‘oh! Who are you going to see?’ That left her crestfallen when we replied that it was classical music. I have to keep reminding myself that ‘concert’ doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to different people.

This one was given by a violinist, Joanne Davis, who started off by apologising for having brought along a ‘box’ with her so she could playing backing music to her pieces. She couldn’t, she assured us, bring “the Berlin Phil” with her as there wasn’t enough space.

At least, I think she said “the Berlin Phil”, meaning the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, for which there certainly wouldn’t have been room. Note even for the orchestra, let alone an audience as well. On the other hand, she might have just said “Berlin Phil”. That, presumably, would have been an enormous man with an odd nickname, as well as extraordinary talents enabling him to play rather a lot of instruments all at the same time.

The concert was enjoyable, in a lovely setting. The rather small room (too little for her friend Berlin Phil) is attractively and tastefully laid out and decorated. It’s from the middle of the nineteenth century – what I still think of as ‘the last century’, but that only betrays my age – though the ceiling with its delicate mouldings, I couldn’t help feeling, seemed to be harking back to something rather older: the start of the century or possibly even the late eighteenth.
Wardown House Ceiling
Designed to be old-fashioned?
That would suggest that the owners of the house chose to decorate it in what was already an old-fashioned style. Suggesting that there’s nothing so old or so persistent as conservatism. Still, that’s hardly a surprising observation, is it?

The music included two pieces focusing on spring – the movement by that name from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the Beethoven Spring Sonata. As Ms Davis pointed out, her choices perhaps reflected wishful thinking: it was still cold outside and, while there were odd moments of clear sky, they were interspersed with more rain, the tail end (we hoped) of the infernally long winter we’ve been struggling through.

Joanne Davis fiddling for spring
The hat in the foreground shows at least one member of
the audience thought winter was still here (even indoors)
Well, if the music was aspirational, it worked. Because in the next couple of days spring finally arrived, and with a real flourish. The trees that had been holding back and holding back suddenly burst out. Trunks and branches that had been bare for months covered themselves in green in a matter of forty-eight hours: one could feel the impatience of nature to make up for all that wasted time.

I’m so pleased we went to that concert. Not just because it was pleasant, but because I’m sure our being there contributed to the aspirational effect it produced. In other words, I’m putting down the arrival of spring to Ms Davis having played her fiddle pieces on the season, and our being there to hear them.

And I challenge any of you to prove me wrong.

On the way to Wardown Park
Spring bursting out at last

No comments: