Sunday, July 10, 2005

Friday night

I'd like to tell you all about the spirit of London's music-lovers on Friday night when my friends of the Razumovsky Ensemble were unlucky enough to have their Wigmore Hall concert. The concert the night before - the day of the bombings - had been cancelled, but Oleg and the hall decided to go ahead as planned, although the audience was half of what it should have been, understandably enough.

I went along with a friend who feels, as I do, that we must defy terrorism and not let our daily lives be disrupted. We drove in, but I took the train home and had to get on the tube to return to Waterloo. If I couldn't do it that day, I might never have done it again. And, bolstered by the extraordinary music-making I'd been witnessing, it wasn't so difficult after all.

When the evening's total of four musicians took the stage for the Faure C minor Piano Quartet at the start of the second half (the first having been string players without pianist), Philippe turned to the audience and declared, "We'd like to thank you for coming to this concert tonight." Before he could say anything else, someone called back from the stalls, "Thank you for playing for us!!" Hugely appreciative round of applause followed; and then a transcendental account of the Faure, filled with elan, refinement, sensitivity, poetry and sensuality in perfect balance.

Life is very short, and often shorter than we could have imagined. Music is one of the best things we can experience during it. If we can clock in to that depth of beauty, that intensity of poetic vision, then something about life will have been worth living, despite the horrors around us. It's not just diversion, entertainment, escapism or something to do after work. Oscar Wilde wrote: "It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection." It is enrichment, defiance, assertion, power, but, above all, a form of love - a universal love that enters, draws out and re-expresses a deep-seated spirit shared, in some obscure corner of the soul, by most people on earth. We are, and in the modern world must struggle to remain, more than animals who go about daily life eating and sleeping and surviving and buying things. I feel it is our ability to appreciate and create art, in whatever form, that raises us to the apex of all that humanity at its best can be.