June 22, 2024

A Soirée Under the Sign of the Duke

There is only one free chair remaining in the archive room at Chateau d’Ainay-le-Vieil. Three hundred people are crowded in for the opening evening of 72 Hours in August. This year, there is something new: the classical music festival is opening with a jazz concert. More accurately, this opening concert is a return to the festival’s roots. During its first two years, 1992 and 1993, the festival welcomed French pianist Claude Bolling. Then, musicians interpreted his Suite in Four Movements for oboe, double bass, and piano. The director of the festival, Frances DeBross [DeBroff], recalls that the piece wasoriginally intended for flute, double bass, and piano: “Claude Bolling claimed that it wasimpossible for an oboe to play the suite because the notes were too high.” Alex Klein,the Brazilian oboist who has most notably performed with Daniel BarenboÁ¯m, masterfullyproved him wrong. The performance immediately enchanted the audience of classical music enthusiasts with the dissonant chords of Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. Tonight, the evening begins with a theme by Charlie Parker. Clarinetist Larry Combs, soloist in the Chicago Symphony, makes light of the technical difficulties characteristic in compositions by the inventor of be-bop. Meanwhile, double bassist Nico Abondolo keeps the rhythm with his right hand; his bow waiting patiently. In the next piece, “Daydream” by Duke Ellington, he is no longer satisfied to keep time like an ordinary jazzman. Instead, Nico inserts parts of the melody into his playing. His fingers do not pluck the strings of the double bass; they brush against them, caressing them from bottom to top. The Duke’s notes sway the audience; calm and serenity permeate the room. One last clarinet solo sustained by a few notes on the piano announces the end of the piece. The Bossa-Nova’s Exotic Magic The long archive room, built in the sixteenth century, is filled with the sounds of Brazil. Kl

Aymeric de Kerdel; trans. by Catharine Stoyanoff La Montagne MontluÁ§on
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