Bach, Bartoli, Handel, and the cat

The forecast was dire: heavy snow. But you don’t give up a concert ticket just for a few metres of snow. So into the car went shovels, carpets (to grip on the snow), blankets, extra clothing, food and drink. And the journey was smooth, despite some snow.
Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw was packed as it should be for a Cecilia Bartoli concert. Accompanied by the orchestra La Scintilla, from Zurich Opera House, Cecilia held the audience mesmerized as she sang exquisite arias from Handel, some of which I knew. It is amazing how much music Handel could write, and how there seems always more to be discovered. Cecilia sang several delightful arias from ‘Giulio Cesare in Egitto’, which I had seen with Susan at Paris’s Salle Pleyel in February. Her versality is amazing, you don’t hear her breathe, and the way she could sing the seemingly unending cadenza in the encore had the audience gasping and applauding immediately. The graciousness with which she applauds the accompanying musicians aids in creating a harmony of sound between voice and instrument that is multiplicative: the conjoined delight transports the music to a new dimension. Cecilia smiles and sings with her eyes. But close your eyes, and you hear the music smiling on as if it were a musical Cheshire cat, long after the visual has gone.

Handel was present two days later in a harpsichord concert given by Cvetanka Sozovska, who was playing in a beautiful little chapel Cellebroederskapel in Maastricht. Her concert was to celebrate the tercentenary of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, oldest son of J.S. Bach, and included music by other composers who were associated with W.F. Bach in some way. Cvetanka’s playing was scintillating, delighting the select audience. Outside in the snow rolled and rolled a white cat, white against white, animate fused with inanimate, happy as happy can be, as if it were playing an air harpsichord to accompany the aria Cecilia Bartoli sang to close her concert.

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