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How a lark and a bullet can be a combination that still makes you happy

From all sides, bird sounds can be heard. A song, a chirp. Call and response. The sky is full of them. Yet it's not birds you hear, but five strings. The acoustics of the Amstelkerk are exploited in their best qualities.

Creating programmes in a small setting, with a personal choice around a theme. This is what cellist Lidy Blijdorp profiles herself with in the series Cello020. For the first episode, The bullet and the lark, she invited the Ragazze Quartet to make music with her. It is clear throughout the evening how flawlessly the cellist and the quartet sense each other.

Around the audience

In the opening number, Le Rappel des Oiseaux of Jean-Philippe Rameau, the musicians sit around the audience. This is typical of the care with which Blijdorp and the Ragazze Quartet make something special of this evening. The arrangement and the spatial effect fit perfectly with this music full of bird sounds. Lidy Blijdorp immediately shines with her clever flageolet playing, in which she displays an unprecedented sense of nuance and musical fantasy.

Unit with beautiful relief

The evoked atmosphere and liveliness continue in Luigi Boccherini's Cello Concerto in G (G480). Right from her first clear entry, Blijdorp drags you into the flow of the music. The accompaniment by the Ragazze Quartet rather than by an orchestra makes this cello concerto surprisingly bright. Lidy Blijdorp emerges magisterially in this light atmosphere, creating a unity with beautiful relief between the five instruments. The sounds are of a silvery refinement. The virtuosity of the solo part is not emphasised for a moment, making the music all the more compelling.

The Ragazze Quartet

One of the two elements of this programme's theme is picked up again in the string quartet The lark in D (opus 64 no. 5) by Joseph Haydn, played by the Ragazze Quartet without Blijdorp. The four musiciennes perform it impressively. What a unity they form, both in sound and in the temperament they bring to this music! With sharpness and a sense of detail, they make this work by Haydn a vivid story.

Tragic hunting party

After the break, it is time for the bullet. As an introduction to the Quintet No 15 opus 38, The Bullet, by George Onslow, a contemporary and kindred spirit of Beethoven, Lidy Blijdorp recounts the fate that befell the composer after he wrote the first movement of this quintet. During a hunting party, one of his friends shot him a bullet in the ear. In the three movements Onslow wrote afterwards, he expressed this misfortune. Lidy Blijdorp and the Ragazze Quartet let you experience it amply. Thanks to their energetic onsets and lively tempo, you feel how the bullets do not land in your ear just yet, but whiz right past it.

The bullet and the lark is an evening you will go home happy. The composition of the programme is highly original. But it is Lidy Blijdorp's own thing to add to it: a narrative element. She also added her own touch to previous programmes. The way she tells the story of Onslow and the tragic bullet betrays a great sense of bizarre events and of humour, allowing her to tell even terrible things with a disarming twinkle.

Next episodes of Cello020 in the Amstelkerk:
Nov 23, 2017: No Tomorrow
Feb 1, 2018: Living under a tyrant
12 Apr 2018: Ode to Debussy
21 June 2018: Midsummer concert

More on Lidy Blijdorp: http://www.lidyblijdorp.nl

Maarten Baanders

Free-lance arts journalist Leidsch Dagblad. Until June 2012 employee Marketing and PR at the LAKtheater in Leiden.View Author posts

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