Fiddle tunes on the viol

The Thursday 5 PM concert was called The Celtic
Viol
and featured reknowned viol player Jordi Savall
playing various kinds of Irish and Scottish music on viol,
accompanied by Paul Odette on cittern and lute and Shane Shanahan
on bodhràn.

I’m always dubious about the idea of playing lots of dance
music in a concert setting, and this concert did nothing to change
that opinion. The lyrical airs and laments were very beautiful,
and there were enough of them that I didn’t regret buying my
ticket.

But the fiddle tunes kept reminding me of Samuel Johnson about
women preaching: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking
on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to
find it done at all.” It was rhythmic and sounded a surprising
amount like a fiddle, but I wasn’t sure anyone would really want
to dance to it even if they could in Jordan Hall.

On a cheerful note, this was the first of the Jordan Hall
concerts I’ve been to that was anything close to sold out. I
wasn’t surprised that the Monday concert was sparsely attended,
since it wasn’t designed for the general public, and a lot of the
BEMF public doesn’t arrive until later in the week. I was
surprised that the King’s Singers sold barely half the seats,
since the Celebrity Series used to sell them out regularly, so
they do appeal to the general public. (Maybe it still does sell
them out regularly – I haven’t been a subscriber for some time.)

On the whole, this concert should probably have been
an 11 PM one-hour concert instead of a 5 PM full-length concert,
except that I would guess the viol players complained two years
ago about the big viol concert being after most people’s bedtimes.
And Jordi Savall is one of the festival’s big draws, and there
are a lot of people who can’t really deal with the logistics of
the 11 PM concerts, so it makes sense to have him when people can
go.

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