A friend fond of organ music invited me to a thirty-minute lunch concert at the Gothic Hall or Gotische Zaal in The Hague. I don’t like organs much, but the promise of harp music convinced me. I love the harp – but should have declined.
It’s not often that these concerts disappoint. So if you happen to be in a town or city with a music school, ask the local tourist office if there are short lunch concerts. I consider the one I attended this time, as a small discord in a long line of extremely enjoyable music.
That quite a few of these concerts take place in historic buildings which are generally not open to the public, is a boon. I had visited this hall which was built for King William II, a while ago during a guided tour. It stands right across the Palace Noordeinde and is the only part left of a palace which was built so quickly in the 19th century, it started to crumble and had to be pulled down a few years later.
It was used to display the King’s art collection. Unfortunately, the collection had to be sold after his death. The building is now part of the Dutch Council of State‘s offices and is used twice a month to host short concerts.
Ms Eva Peet – a winner of the Princess Christina Concours 2014 – and mr van der Kooy started their concert with the first part of Händel’s harp concerto, with ms Peet playing harp and mr van der Kooy playing the Bätz organ. My friend is wild about Bätz organs. To me, it sounded asthmatic in the background of this well-known piece, which I had heard better performed as well.
Mr van der Kooy the performed a Praeludium and Fuga from Bach’s “Acht kleine Präludien und Fugen”. My friend liked this of course. I was glad I could stare at Queen Anna Pavlovna’s portrait. She didn’t seem too happy either.
Ms Peet then performed two parts from Paul Patterson’s “Spiders”. From the introduction she gave to these short pieces it was clear, she had looked up various spiders. Though she forgot to mention the link between a Tarantula and the tarantella, she had less problems with the Black Widow. But I found both fairly modern pieces terribly pretentious and boring. There exist quite a few interesting tarantella though.
Mr van der Kooy then played an improvisation on a newly acquired Bösendorfer concert grand piano. Ms Peet delivered an inaudible introduction to Gabriel Pierné’s Impromptu Caprice. However, this was the nicest piece of the whole concert and proved that she certainly is a gifted harp-player. The deep range of her harp sounded very warm, but occasionally the higher tones were metallic. Over all, I was left not happy and my friend slightly critical.