Sunday, 24 July 2011

Guitares en Cormatinois – Trio Alta

With yesterday’s concert in the church of Malay the festival “Guitares en Cormatinois” came to an end. And though there was no program available for the volunteers (the program was sold out in no time!), a quick search on the Internet provided the required information. The trio consists of Eric Sobszyk – guitar, Igor Kiritchenko - cello and Marc Vieillefon – violin and their program bore the title "Romantique", although the emphasis was on composers of the classical period. Having said that, also non-romantic music was performed in a rather romantic way. Their repertoirte consisted of work by composers such as Paganini, Gragnani, Guiliani, Bürgmüller and Haydn.
The Malay church has very good acoustics for this sort of ensemble. The concert was, in my view, an excellent conclusion of the series, despite, or even thanks to the light-footedness of the music. The music reminded me of light music, which I remember from the revival it had in the Netherlands in the fifties.
Time to make up the balance of the festival.
The highlight was no doubt the concert of Poulet and Saraglou in Chazelle, joint with the concert of Baty and Goudin in Cormatin. The quality of the latter concert was seriously hampered by the acoustics of the church. The piano sounded at times like a submarine, whilst the trumpet sounded absolutely brilliant.
A very good second was the Trio Alta in Malay.
About Bracco and Moncheny in Bonnay I cannot say much more than that I found them boring, and Rossfelder and the Ensemble Toscanini in Saint-Hippolyte I consider to be a missed opportunity.
As far as the venues are concerned:
Chazelle as well as Malay both offer good acoustics. Bonnay was really bad, unless one had a seat at the front, and Saint-Hippolyte’s acoustics were good, while its ambiance is stunning. Big disadvantage of this place is that it requires the back-up of Bonnay church in case of rain. The church of Cormatin has been mentioned earlier.
After each concert there is a buffet for the organisers and volunteers with the musicians in Cormatin. We went on foot to the concert in Chazelle, hoping to get a lift to Cormatin and back from some one. Fortunately the mayor of Cormatin lives in Chazelle, so he took us for a ride.
On the way the subject of venues came up in conversation, and the mayor worded what we had thought for a long time: why not concentrate the whole festival in one place, e.g. in Chazelle? It improves the logistics tremendously, it increases the recognisability of the festival, and the acoustics are known to be good. What else can one wish?
However, knowing how stubborn the artistic director of the festival is, it still will take a lot of lobbying before we can rename the festival into “Guitares en Chazellois”!

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Saturday, 23 July 2011

I am lost!

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Everybody who has travelled in France knows the most common French road types; N for Route Nationale, A for Autoroute (often toll roads) and D for Route Départementale. Not difficult to figure those ones out. Not so common are the Routes or Voies Communales, often small roads, managed by the Communes themselves. The C-roads are generally indicated on detailed maps, like the Michelin road maps or the detailed IGN-maps; for obvious reasons the road numbers are often omitted on those maps. They are however certainly mentioned on the Cadastre maps. As an example: our house is located on the side of a path called “Chemin de desserte” (connecting path) between another path, called Chemin rural dit de Coureau (the name of a farm and a brook at the end of the path) and the “main” road between Bois Dernier and Chazeux through Chazelle, the Voie Communale no. 3 de Bois Dernier à Chazeux. Needless to say, that a sign indicating C3 is nowhere to be found.
On one of our trips through the neighbourhood we stumbled upon an old road sign. Since I like those archaic things, we stopped to take some pictures. The sign displayed a type of road I had never heard of, a Chemin vicinale ordinaire, indicated on another sign as V1. The dictionary gives for Chemin vicinale as meaning local road, byroad. I have not been able to trace back the age of the sign, but given the state of the sign and the rarity of it, it would not surprise me if they go back to the time before the war. Cormatin, as far as I know, has only one sign like this, Cluny has a few more. They are normally fixed on the walls of houses at street sign height, often on a street corner.

In the more recent system the road has been rechristened as C1, which is shown on a road sign opposite the former one. Funnily enough, the spelling of the place names does not give much of a hint to the age either. On the old signs the place is called Rimont; on the (possibly) newer sign it says Rimond, and on another, brand new sign the place name is back to where it started: Rimont!
Still anybody there who can follow me?

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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Guitares en Cormatinois – Poulet and Saraglou

So far I have not mentioned the concert of Adèle Bracco – vocals and Thierry Moncheny – guitar. Unfortunately the concert was planned on one of the few rainy days of the last weeks, hence the venue was moved from Saint-Hippolyte to the church of Bonnay. The concert was announced as “Vocal Jazz – Viva Brasil!”, and since I am not terribly keen on Brazilian music, and to me a jazz evening is something more than 2 hours filled with bossa novas and sambas, I will not further elaborate on it. I am sure that someone who is more interested in the dancing side of music would have had a wonderful evening.
Yesterday however there was a concert in the romanesque church of Chazelle by Gérard Poulet – violin and Dimitris Saraglou – piano.
One of the short comings of the programs for these concerts I always find the description: this is often non-descriptive. “Le violon virtuose” could have described a primas of a gipsy orchestra, forcing a singing canary from his instrument, or Stéphane Grapelly performing an up-tempo jazz classic, or a classical violinist playing de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen without a flaw. “Sonatas of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms” makes taking a decision on attending or not attending a lot easier.
Anyway, for whatever reason I had a feeling that this could well become a very good concert. Both musicians are well known, and both teach at established institutions, the one in Japan, the other in Belgium. The program looked promising as well, with Beethoven’s Kreutzer sonata (one of my favourites) prominently there. The church of Chazelle turned out to have far better acoustics than those of Bonnay and Cormatin. The duo started off with an excellent rendition of Mozart’s sonata no. 13 KV 454, followed by a superb interpretation of the Kreutzer sonata. The last piece on the program, Brahms sonata no. 3 was played equally well, but being a great admirer of Beethoven’s work I would have preferred that to be played last (as was originally programmed). For me a concert is perfect when the best piece is kept for last. Having said that, a Brahms lover might be very happy with the change in the play order.
The two received a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the concert, and the French way of asking for an encore (applauding, gradually changing into rhythmic handclapping) was rewarded twice by the musicians. And even though it was not easy to discover any connection in the programming with guitars in general, the consensus of most people present was that this was by far the best concert in the series “Guitares en Cormatinois”.

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Saturday, 9 July 2011


When I was still living in the Netherlands, I was quite a keen jogger. Not that I was material for championships, but I was a member of one of the hundreds of informal jogging clubs in the Netherlands. Most of these clubs however have qualified trainers, and they knew what your limitations were.
I have spent a long time running twice a week, and since these sort of clubs heavily emphasize social contacts, the training evenings were spent nattering away whilst running. Also outside training evenings there was social contact between the members; trips were organised to various runs in the Netherlands, barbecues were held, in short, we did a lot more than just training for a 10 km run or half a marathon. Only training for the full marathon I did on my own. My tempo was considerably lower than that of the group that trained together for the Rotterdam marathon.
After I arrived in France I discovered that running in a group as a social event was not very well known here. Hence I trained on my own, did minimal 10 km a week, including running up a steep hill, and occasionally ran with some of our campers who had brought their running shoes with them. Finally I decided to post the question “Is there some running club around here?” on a number of forums. A guy from an athletics club in Tournus, about 30 km from here, answered and one Monday evening around 7h00 I reported for duty. There was a very small group, which was split up in even smaller units. My “group” consisted of one guy with a torch mounted on his head and myself. And off we went, on a dark late autumn evening, into a pitch black forest. I am night blind, but nevertheless I got back in one piece. My second run was less fortunate. Almost back, near the stadium where we gathered, I hit a tree root with my foot and fell flat on my face. My “buddy” waited till I was back on my feet again, but never said a mumbling word. In the dresser rooms (there were no mirrors!) I rinsed my hands, said to the coach “See you next time” and went to my car.
Only there I saw how much damage there was. My nose was severely damaged, it looked like a tooth had gone through my lip, my face had blood all over it, in short, I looked like a cowboy coming back from a nice brawl in the local saloon.
Once home, my wounds were tended, and only then I realised that this could not have happened with my Dutch running group. When somebody fell, another runner would turn back to the club house with the victim, look after him or her, and bring him or her to the first aid post if necessary, or home. And after that, one or more members would stay in contact with the victim, to hear how everything was developing, and when the trainings would be attended again.
One can draw the conclusion from the story above, that despite a few emails from me, I never heard anything from the club in Tournus. And I have left it at that. For a while I have tried to keep up running on my own, but the fun diminished further and further. And my condition has dropped to zero after having undergone 3 operations, all involving a pacemaker.
But, recently I have made up my mind again: I have got to do something to get back in some sort of shape. So presently, in the morning, I am very carefully running my 1.6 km from home to the edge of the village, hoping to build up in time to a 10 km run.
And who knows, I might be able one day to do the Classic “2 km de Cormatin” in a respectable 10 minutes....

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Sunday, 3 July 2011

Guitares en Cormatinois – Emmanuel Rossfelder

Last Saturday was the second concert in the series “Guitares en Cormatinois”, given by guitarist Emmanuel Rossfelder and the Italian flute ensemble Toscanini. The concert was held in the open air, i.e. in the old deanery of Saint-Hippolyte. Rossfelder is one of the mainstays of the festival, the ensemble was an amateur group of 18 (most of them female) flute players, and the gigantic tower of the deanery is a landmark visible for miles around. The pièce de résistance of the evening had to be Rodrigo’s Concerto d’Aranjuez, and I would like to make a note about this in particular.
In the past I once started collecting all sort of renditions of Mussogsky’s “Pictures at an exhibition” (originally written for piano). Well known are Ravel’s orchestration and Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s rendition, but there are also renditions written performed by a brass band, brass band and carillon, street organ, etc. Most of these pieces are more a curiosum than serious music, although very often fun to listen to once.
The same went for Rodrigo’s piece. Some of the flute players had problems hitting the right note every so often, the piccolos sounded like one of the males had just pinched one of the females in the bottom, and the arrangement was or was played very blandly. Rossfelder gave the impression he did not really take the piece or the whole concert seriously. The rest of the evening followed the same pattern. The ensemble played a.o. Pachelbel’s Canon and the allegro from Mozart’s Symphonie no. 40, pieces which are too well known to stand up after being treated this way. Rossfelder’s routine and craftsmanship could save neither Vivaldi’s concerto in D major nor
Tarrega's variations on Carnival of Venice. All in all, this concert was not of the standard we are used to of this festival, which is a pity. It could certainly not be blamed on the ambiance, which was stunning!

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