Society for Private Performances

Some years ago I had an idea for maybe reviving “salon” performances in London, perhaps combining it with the ideals of Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performances, but making it not only classical music, but also maybe some jazz, book readings, poetry, acting/performance/variety/etc, with two or three performers in one evening.

The idea was that it would be informal (or at any rate semi-informal), with no set pieces to be played in advance – it would be up to the artists to decide what to perform, and they could change their minds at any time. (Well, maybe not in the middle of a performance – unless that works!)

So (hopefully) less pressure to perform and more risk-taking, and better work.

And only constructive comments from a hopefully knowledgable audience. (But there wouldn’t be Schoenberg’s rule of not permitting applause after the performance of any work.)

Since then there I have found several people and organisations which approach that idea in different ways, for example Vera Chok’s Saltpeter Productions (new website, or older website).

Nothing is exactly what I had in mind, but some are close.

So nothing quite like that for the moment.

*BUT*: after a Sunday morning concert last year at The Forge in Camden (another organisation that is doing good work, as is The Red Hedgehog in Highgate) I spoke briefly with the violinist, whom I knew slightly. For some reason on the spur of the moment I decided to recommend that she might look at a piece by Nikolai Medtner, his first sonata for violin and piano, because it’s little known, but – in my opinion – is at least approaching the quality of Debussy and Ravel’s sonatas for violin and piano. And it’s fairly short, maybe 20 minutes or so.

I was anticipating a reply to the effect that she didn’t know it, and I would have been delighted if she had said she did know it.

But she said neither. What she actually said was that she’d been rehearsing it recently!

So I very much want to hear her play Medtner’s first violin sonata. In an informal atmosphere as described above.

The idea is for the two musicians (the violinist and the pianist who was with her at The Forge) to try to come up with a few dates when they might be able to play Medtner’s sonata (and a few other pieces of their own choosing) which could fit in with several people whom I think might – and/or should – be interested in this (I have a list, neither little nor large), and see if there is a date and venue which is convenient for most on the list.

Let’s see if we can make it happen.


About Colin Bartlett

I'm interested in arts, mathematics, science. Suliram is a partial conflation of the names of three good actors: Ira Aldridge, Anna May Wong, and another. My intention is to use a personal experience of arts to make some points, but without being too "me me me" about it. And to follow Strunk's Elements of Style. Except that I won't always "be definite": I prefer Niels Bohr's precept that you shouldn't write clearer than you think.
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