City of Vienna Resident Orchestra at Palais Auersper‏g, Vienna

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Music can at times move you to tears and/or give you goosebumps and this concert – that happens nightly at the grand Palais Auersperg in central Vienna – certainly did just that to us and also others sat near us during the course of the two-part performance. The Queen Anne-style building’s acoustics were superb, the decoration –  Corinthian columns and classical friezes showing chariot racing and wrestling – inspirational and the lead musician, playing a violin that was thirty years older than Mozart would have been, had a swagger be-fitting his instrument that was a joy to watch.

The orchestra started with familiar, up tempo tunes and continued like this for half an hour, representing what we’d been told was the golden age of Viennese music. The term ‘golden age’ is interesting to ponder; it’s kind of like saying that Cartier-Bresson represented the golden age of photography and everything after represents something of a fall. It’s a statement that’s not entirely without merit, of course, although one that many modern photographers would take issue with. Although they would, wouldn’t they…

Regardless of that it was a lovely performance, packed full of confident and accomplished playing, singing and dancing. There were four violinists, one cellist, one flute and a double bass, the men in evening dress and the ladies in ball gowns. After two pieces of music a lady came on for single operetta, to be replaced straight after by a couple performing a ballet, the lady doing so in the style of a marionette. The final piece before the interval was a duet, well acted and full of expression.

As we sipped our complimentary drinks on the balcony – later moving into a side room – we discussed the first half of the show. We found it difficult to say if the music was as superbly played as our first impressions suggested as the spaces between notes are every bit as important as the speed of play which impresses so many, and we are no experts at judging these spaces. It certainly seemed excellent though!

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Mozart had sounded a little lightweight when we’d heard him played by a quartet the night before but here we could begin to understand his potential and his classification as a genius. His music can evoke such vivid imagery – birds singing and dancing – and credit to the ballerinas who accompanied the music during the second half, they were so graceful, so full of beauty. In some parts of the world where Europeans find themselves isolated from their own culture I’ve witnessed, often, the comfort that such music can offer. Played at night on a bright veranda it’s almost like it’s warding off a primal fear that they believe lurks just beyond the reach of lamplight, although some would say the fear is only within the individual. Regardless, my point is that the music can comfort like little else, not just because it represents High Culture, but because, perhaps, it is High Culture.

The only low point was where the audience inevitably joined in with the Radetzky March, clapping and laughing like slobbering fools. You can’t escape it, they do it everywhere, irrespective of location. But we’d known it was coming the minute the orchestra had started the tune, so we’d steeled ourselves for it and consequently it hadn’t spoilt anything for us. Overall it was a really enjoyable performance (note than no photos are allowed during the performance), and one that we’d advise you try to attend.

To discover more, please see http://www.wro.at/vienna-classics

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