Immaculate decoration, dustless chairs, and dressed-upped onlookers waiting for Tudor Andrei and Lynn Carter. Before the event I had read all about Tudor Andrei and his already impressive CV, and St John the Divine seemed the perfect venue to herald the up and coming violinist. Somebody was filming, somebody else was recording, and there was a murmur in the crowd. Romanians waited side by side with the British.
With the introduction over they burst on. Beforehand, I was told that Tudor would be attempting a very difficult programme. Sure enough the stave was ready for Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 12 No.1 in D Major. Tudor looked rather nervous as he began what turned out to be a reasonably long piece. It took a while to get into it. I kept trying to weigh up the difficulty, the look of the performers and the surroundings. Bits of Beethoven grandeur and sharp arpeggios added to my confusion. I was getting settled in. And just as I was starting to enjoy it all they stopped. They went off and came back on again and Tudor put away his stave. Great, I thought, this must be the stuff he knows by heart. Sure enough I was soon captivated by Ernest Chausson’s Poem. There was pain there, artistic pain and, at last, we could hear spirit. A poem in musical form.
The second half was an opportunity to take in Tudor Andrei as showman. He was relaxed by this point and it showed. Smiling, pouting, turning from side to side unashamedly, here was a man confident of his craft and the way in which he presents himself. A Romantic, probably, a lover of craft and show. Thank God he’s not a robot. And on with the music as the second half was formed of five shorter pieces, starting off with Enescu’s Impromptu Concertant. I found there were bits towards the end where I wandered off, staring at the chairs in front, staring at the expression of others, staring because I couldn’t help but feel. The violin is an instrument of sadness. It laments the fragile nature of our hearts. I was taken back to my homeland. And then I was right back where I was, in St John the Divine, thinking how wonderful that a musician the like of Tudor Andrei has the chance to wow the world and how true that musicians and artists and writers can still speak with the freedom of artistic expression even though governments have always tried to shut them up.
On and off they went as we continued with two pieces by Elgar, Chanson de Matin and Salut d’Amour, the latter which brought a tear or two to my eyes. It was getting to that time in the evening when a tear or two was acceptable, a time when we could shake off the barbaric expectations of life and allow ourselves to enjoy a variety of moods and feelings. Lynn Carter’s piano playing made a lovely accompanying sound and allowed Tudor to prise us open with his virtuosity.
Ravel’s Sonate Posthume was an obvious highlight. The instruments battled against each other, separately then together, in a treatment that charmed the socks off the audience. Night through the windows contrasted beautifully with the bright golden interiors as we were carried away by musical bliss. The last piece, Study in a form of a Waltz by Saint-Saens, was lively enough to send us off with a bang. As Tudor wrapped up the night with his playful bow, and then as we clapped and whistled, we were left with a plentiful feeling in our stomachs like the follow-on from a tasteful feast. St John the Divine, yes, indeed, divine.