The International Interview Concerts came on line for the first time on Sunday 6 December to link up musicians across Europe to play and talk about their experiences and memories of Christmas. The event was hosted by Timothy Chick, who also did a valiant job linking up the various artists as well as interviewing them as the evening proceeded.
Of course, like so many events today, we were not only at the mercy of the legal restrictions but also the available technology. For some of the time this worked well but there were other occasions when the sound quality did not do justice to the professional standing and competence of the players.
The evening opened with violinist Kamila Bydlowska playing versions of ‘Angels From the Realms of Glory’ & ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’, with some fine double-stopping on display. This was folloed by the Bukolika Piano Trio (Gabriela Opacka violin – Joanna Gutowska cello – Anna Szalucka piano) bringing us a suite of arrangements of familiar carols – ‘The First Noel’, ‘Stille Nacht’, ‘Jingle Bells’and the traditional Polish: ‘Lulajze Jezuniu’ (‘Lullaby Jesus’).
Kamila returned to play the Polish carol ‘Oh Tiny, Tiny Baby’.
As a contrast we now heard from Mexican singer Jorge Carlo Moreno accompanied by Varvara Tarasova at the piano. They opened with the Spanish carol ‘La Virgen Lava Pañales’ followed by a piano solo – Tchaikovsky’s ‘December’ from The Seasons – and ended with ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ sung in Spanish.
Kamila followed this with another Polish carol arranged for violin but the final items fell to pianist Olga Paliy who brought us Holst’s ‘Chrissemas Day in the Morning’, Debussy’s ‘The Snow is Dancing’, and concluding with a fine arrangement of the ‘Carol of the Bells’.
In between Timothy Clark chatted to the artist about their own experience of Christmas music and particularly of their earliest memories of Christmas. It was fascinating to hear the very personal memories from across continents and the different traditions they keep within their own families.
Let us hope that the technical side can be improved so that the experience is closer to a live event in future as the venture itself was certainly engaging.