ECO Music Cruise 2011 – final blog

We spent the Wednesday at sea, crossing the Med from Malta to Greece, and were treated to a very beautiful recital of Schubert, Liszt and Richard Strauss arias by Elizabeth Watts accompanied by Maria Meerovitch.  In our ECO concert that day 20 year old Behzod Abduraimov wowed the audience for a second time, in Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto.  Nobody could ever have guessed that it was his first performance of that concerto!

On Thursday we docked at Kalamai (Kalamata), Greece.  Our concert venue there was not as visually attractive as the other shore venues but it had excellent air conditioning and a surprisingly good acoustic, as well as being right by the beach.  This latter attribute resulted in many musicians making unscheduled dips in the sea without the benefit of having brought swimwear or towels, and so an assortment of underwear and other clothing was hastily hung out to dry on trees before the rehearsal.   Pinchas Zukerman conducted Schubert’s 5th Symphony and gave a wonderful rendition of Haydn’s C major violin concerto – during the slow movement of which, his first grandchild was finally and belatedly born (back in the USA), causing considerable jubilation!  After the concert further dips ensued, and a couple of ladies threw bras aside and caution to the winds.  It was that sort of day!  In the evening Sergej Krylov played a fabulous recital of Franck and Stravinsky.

Friday was our last full day, and musicians and audience alike were bemoaning how quickly our week was drawing to a close.  Wind Spirit was unable to dock at the pretty island of Hydra as there was physically not enough space, and although we had booked the sole anchoring site another ship had apparently got there first;  so we hovered offshore under motor and disembarked via tenders.  There are no vehicles on Hydra, only horses and donkeys, and the quayside was lined with cafes and small shops.  Our afternoon concert was in the Maritime Museum, given by the ECO Wind Ensemble with the talented young Anna Hashimoto as guest clarinet soloist. The contemporary performance space with its backdrop of modern art was an appropriate setting for the well-chosen selection of 20th century wind music, including quartets and quintets by Holst, Ligeti and Francaix plus some solo clarinet pieces by Stravinsky etc.  The musicians wittily introduced each piece and the audience relished the temporary change of diet to a more edgy fare.   An impressive sunset accompanied our return to Wind Spirit that evening, heralding the end of the trip.  After dinner, for our farewell concert Stephanie Gonley directed the ECO in Faure’s Overture “Masques et Bergamasques”, Mozart’s “Jeunehomme” Piano Concerto and Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso;  our soloists were the excellent Plamena Mangova and Sergej Krylov.  A lovely end to a hugely successful Music Cruise!

To register interest for our next Music Cruise (October 13-20 2012, again on board Wind Spirit in the Mediterranean), featuring, amongst others, Maxim Vengerov please email ecomusiccruise@stlon.com

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