This is a postscript to the last post on the Miro Quartet concert. As has become customary, it seems, one of the members, the violist, gave lengthy introductions to two of the three pieces on the program. Lengthy meaning perhaps three or four minutes. As the writer of the program notes, there wasn't much for me, but perhaps it was helpful to those people who hadn't had time to read the notes. But he did get one of his facts wrong: it wasn't the cathedral in Toledo that commissioned Haydn's music, it was Cadiz.
When I was a young recitalist, it was considered a bit gauche to chat with the audience. It tended to erode the mystery of the music. But as time went on, that became passe and the cool thing to do was to speak directly to the audience. I do it all the time myself. Alas, sometimes the talking is a bad idea. In the case of a concert by a fine quartet whose every piece was preceded by remarks from their leader, a Russian with an impossibly thick accent, we could barely make out what he was saying, which was clumsy and pointless in any case.
I think it may be time to re-think all this talking. The reason I write program notes, which I do for over thirty concerts a year, is so the players don't have to try and think of what to say. It leaves them free to concentrate on the music. Properly researched and written program notes should also be much better than off-the-cuff remarks. Let's just get to the music, shall we? I often find myself squirming in my seat as some performer drones on, making unnecessary and often mistaken comments on the piece he is about to play.
And while we are at it, if we are not going to wear formal concert garb any more, can we at least refrain from do-rags? No, the Miro Quartet were not sporting this item of apparel, but it's been done...