Sri Lanka, June 16 -- The Chamber Music Society of Colombo (CMSC), the arbiters of serious classical music in the country, produced another extraordinary event titled Music + Film on June 9 at the Goethe-Hall. With funding from Concerts Norway through the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, the Goethe-Institute, Colombo, and the premier sponsor of the CMSC, Fairway Holdings, the Chamber Music Society is able to bring to the public expensive and valuable new content to Sri Lanka's high-end cultural world. The fifth concert of the Chamber Music Plus series was no exception. Ludvig van Beethoven's Piano Trio Op. 11 began the proceedings and was thoroughly enjoyable. The interpretation of the B flat major Trio, which finds the composer in a slightly more mature frame of mind than his Op. 1 Piano Trios, was very appropriate.
There was no mistaking the masculinity of the young and confident Beethoven. After a highly propulsive Allegro con brio and a romantically inspired tranquil Adagio, the real astonishment came in the guise of the Theme and Variations on 'Pria ch'io l'impegno from Joseph Weigl's 'L'amor marinaro, a light opera that was a hit in its day.
Light-hearted and cheeky sounding, the playing was exemplary. Excellent balance and empathy between Lakshman Joseph de Saram, (Violin) and Peter O'Reilly (Cello) gave Soundarie David a challenging and dynamic bedrock to work the virtuosic piano part. A challenge met with plenty of elan to spare.
Next was Robert Schumann's Piano Trio 'Fantasiestucke,' Op. 88. This work is complicated in the sense that it does not follow strict classical form although written during the late classical period.
The short movements are abstract and have very little musical relationship to each other, but taken as a fantastical journey through the tortured mind of the genius Schumann, it can make for an intriguing listen.
The first movement, 'Romanze' was played with an easy elegance that served as a beautiful introduction to the collection of fantasies to follow.
'Humoreske,' the second movement was a catchy scherzo-like piece that had elements of the first movement weaved in. The shifting timbres and harmonic moods were highlighted, maybe a tad to much at times.
A lovely lyrical duet between Cynthia Fernando (Violin) and Peter O'Reilly (Cello) was the core of the third movement, titled 'Langsam.' The sympathetic string playing was augmented by Soundarie David's languid Piano accompaniment. The 'Finale' was strongly romantic in flavor and contained much contrapuntal expression. The fine musicians of the CMSC clearly understanding the complexities of Schumann were however not as confident as they could have been to make the most of the abundance of compositional inventiveness presented in the score.
As always, we could have done with more music making, The CMSC's high artistic standards and pristine programing are an oasis in the ever cheapening world of classical music in this country.
Next began the 'Plus' segment of the evening. Lakshman Joseph de Saram, the Artistic Director of the CMSC, who is actually better known internationally as a highly regarded film composer, presented Boodee Keerthisena, the film director, with a challenge. Listen to Beethoven and Schumann's Piano trios, and come up with a short film. Challenge accepted, and what we got was 'The Adventures of Ricky Deen.' It stared some of the best acting talents in Sri Lanka's film world.
Mahendra Perera, Sangeetha Weerarathna, Palitha Perera, Dharshan Darmaraja and an excellent cameo role by Seneka de Silva. However, due to some unfortunate unprofessionalism on the part of the film director, there was a delay of over 40 minuets before the film was screened.
Eventually, the film was screened but with countless issues with production values, although shot on a couple of iPhone 5's, there seemed to be plenty of clumsy post-production effects tacked on to the raw footage, making it more a VFX exercise than an iPhone exclusive. The premise of the short film was confusing to begin with, no sub-titles made it worse for the expat potion of the audience, that included four ambassadors representing major countries, no less.
We can not really criticize the short film's content because we truly believe it to be a work-in-progress. Unfortunately, we were not there to see a work-in-progress, this was a Chamber Music Society/Goethe Institute production, organisations well known for their slick, precise presentations, so it was more than surprising and quite disappointing to experience such amateurism from that impressive team. We hope this exercise is a one-off debacle.
Finally, we need to acknowledged the progressive thinking of the Chamber Music Society of Colombo and the Goethe-Institute, Colombo for giving the opportunity to allied art forms to express themselves in the most intimate of artistic settings, the Chamber music concert. We hope that this form of creative collaboration will grow from strength to strength.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka).
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