Utrecht Early Music Festival 2016 part 15: Danzi Duo

The Danzi Duo were no new ensemble for me. During the 34th Early Music Festival in Utrecht, they already belonged to the fabulous fringe circuit. They had performed at the large concert hall at Tivoli-Vredenburg. But unfortunately, the sound system at that hall had played up, or down – whatever you prefer. The result was a not so satisfying fabulous fringe concert.

20160830 017 Venetian PortraitThis year, at the 35th version of the festival, they gave a concert in the Auditorium of the Catharijne Convent Museum. Not that things ran smoothly here. But again: Mr Fiorelli and Ms Gandilyan were not to blame. This time, it was volunteers whose task it is to ensure a fringe or fabulous fringe concert runs smoothly for artists and public

For a start, the volunteers kept shepherding people into the auditorium. Last time I was part of the audience here at a 2016 fringe concert, the problem had been the public too. Not the late arrivals, but people who simply had not bothered to obtain the obligatory free tickets at the fringe ticket booth in Tivoli-Vredenburg. The volunteers on duty at the time, had not bothered to check if people had tickets or not. People without tickets are supposed to be kept waiting till all people who have bothered to obtain fringe concert tickets before the fringe concerts start, have found a seat.

This time, not only people who had not bothered to get tickets were allowed inside the small venue. The concert was supposed to start at 14:00. Okay, starting a concert a few minute late is no problem – provided there are no members of the public who have booked and paid for seats at other concerts have to leave early. Okay if the musicians are not ready either, but Ms Gandilyan and Mr Fiorelli were kept waiting while being very ready to start their concert, while volunteers continued to shepherd people inside. When the concert finally was allowed to start by the volunteers on duty this time, it started over 10 minutes late.

20160830 007 Catharijne Convent

Part of the Catharijne Convent Utrecht, where many fringe concerts take place. The former convent is now a museum.

The concert was titled “Teacher and pupils, Beethoven, Neefe and Ries”. From the order of works, the selected works and their impression, as well as dates the composers lived and died, I may be mistaken but I received the impression Beethoven might have been a pupil of Neefe and Ries a pupil of Beethoven?

Contrary to last year, neither Ms Gandilyan nor Mr Fiorelli tried to explain their program and selected pieces. Perhaps, after last year’s bad experience with Tivoli-Vredenburg, they had given up. Whatever, Ms Gandilyan started the concert with the Fantasia in F by Christian Gottlob Neefe.

After this impressive Fantasia played on a lovely sounding forte piano, Mr Fiorelli joined Ms Gandilyan to play Beethoven’s sonata Opus 102 nr 2 in D. Having studied Beethoven’s piano sonatas, I must say the Allegro con brio was certainly played con brio! The adagio con molto sentiment d’affetto and the allegro were also played pretty well. However, Ferinand Ries’ Trois Airs Russes Variés Opus 72 were another outstanding work, excellently performed.

Unfortunately – and I felt very sorry for the Danzi Duo – by then, a few members of the public had had to leave, to run to other concerts with ticket prices ranging upward from 20 Euro a piece. This happens often during fringe concerts and is no fault of the musicians, who after all have no say in the matter of scheduling. Usually, one hardly notices people leaving for other concerts, but this time, the volunteers had decided to lock the main entrance and exit doors …

People were shepherded out the auditorium by several spaces, interconnected by doors and the volunteers ensured these doors kept slamming open or shut throughout this concert. This is irritating enough for the audience, but imagine the effect upon the musicians.

This was not all. At the end of the Danzi Duo’s concert, which had started late for both musicians and the audience, members of the audience really had to hurry out of the venue to try and be on time for the next concert. With ticket prices for some concerts starting at more than 20 Euro or even more than 40 Euro a ticket, one can imagine people wanting to reach such concerts in time.

Well … the volunteers on duty blocked the staircase leading from balcony to ground floor because … photos needed to be taken. The duty of volunteers at all fringe concerts is not to ensure nice pictures are taken. Volunteers have to shepherd the public out of a venue, ensuring voting papers for the public’s award to promising musicians, as well as financial donations to the musicians are collected. What with taking photos being of utmost importance to the volunteers on duty at this fabulous fringe concert …

What also puzzled me was, that Saturday, other volunteers had told me that the public was not supposed to vote on fabulous fringe concerts. So why were we given voting form at this concert? Had the organisation demoted the Danzi Duo? If so, the organisation had better accept responsibility for the problems with the sound system at Tivoli-Vredenburg last year. Regardless: voting forms were not even collected when the first ten or more members of the public filed out. After all: volunteers were busy with other things like taking photos.

I completely forgot to include a remark about the Danzi Duo’s performance at the 2015 Festival when I mailed my complaint about volunteers at certain fringe concerts to the organisation this afternoon. But all in all, this was the first fringe concert I attended, which caused me to complain. It felt like the Danzi Duo got a rough deal last year and had another bad experience this year.

Danzi Duo:
Anderson Fiorelli cello;
Sofya Gandilyan forte piano

Christian Gottlob Neefe : Fantasia in F ;
Ludwig von Beethoven Sonata opus 102 nr 2 in D;
Ferdinand Ries Trois Airs Russes Variés Opus 72

Youtube Danzi Duo playing Beethoven

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