Piano recital at Fairlight Hall, Bridget Riley at the de la Warr

Beautiful sun this week – the one wet day was Sunday, when we were supposed to go to Fairlight Hall for the Hastings Piano Concerto Competition winner’s recital. It absolutely poured down in the morning. As the piano event involves picnics in the gardens, followed by semi-outdoor concert, anxious frissons must have been rushing round all over the place…
     Fortunately, it cleared up by about 3.30pm, and the sun emerged. We decided to leave the picnic, and just have a Pimms when we got there. We had a stroll round the gardens – very tranquil and pleasant.  As I think I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Peter, the head gardener is, or was then, very keen on a biodynamic approach to cultivation – planting things according to the phases of the moon.  I keep on meaning to ask him how it went, and keep forgetting. Some things in the walled vegetable garden were excellent, some a bit less so – our broad beans are better-looking than his, and he gave us the seeds, too. Lovely border of peonies.  Here are a few garden pictures.

Fairlight Hall

General view – clouds clearing

Huge cabbage – biodynamic?
Beautiful peony

Love the shadows on the grass

     This year’s soloist and winner of the 2015 competition was a young Russian, Alexander Panfilov. We saw him at the final earlier this year, and he was a worthy winner.  Panfilov seemed assured and confident,  unlike a little Korean chap a couple of years ago, who we saw at the interval, sitting by himself, looking at the garden. Presumably he was just getting himself into the zone or something, but he looked very lost, very small, and very lonely.

This year’s soloist, Alexander Panfilov

     As usual, the piano was in the recital room with the doors wide open, and most of the audience sitting under big umbrellas in the courtyard. Previous years’ concerts have been enlivened by wind rustling in the trees, flapping brollies, pattering rain and bird-song accompaniment. This year we had no wind or rain, but the birds, clearly attracted by the music, still sang their heads off.  I like that though. Nice programme – Mozart, Chopin, Debussy with Mussorgsky after the interval.
     However – big downside. Clearly, they have had complaints from audience members not able to hear, so this year they had amplified the music. We were sitting quite near one of the speakers, which gave us a very distorted sound – loud and tinny, with some note ranges over-emphasised.  If I want to listen to artificially enhanced music, I can do that in comfort, at home. I go to concerts to listen to the live sound of the instrument.
      It seems to me that there are choices here. They could reduce the size of the audience, so everyone can hear. They could change the venue arrangements, for example, if they used one big marquee to enclose us all, that might work. They could just leave us to lump it – the noises off are part of the informality of the event. Or they can carry on using amplification – but I don’t think I’d want to go again if they do.
     Changing the subject totally, this week we have also been to the Bridget Riley exhibition ‘Curves’, at the de la Warr. Another beautiful day, we could have spent all morning sitting on the cafe balcony looking at the sun on the sea.

Sparkling day at the De la Warr Pavilion

      I have never actually seen any of Bridget Riley’s work in the ‘flesh’ before, and was surprised to find I couldn’t actually look at many of the paintings. They made me feel instantly dizzy and nauseous. She is well-known for optical illusion-type pop art, and the paintings seemed to ripple, quiver and heave in the most disquieting manner. I liked the more recent colour-splash curve paintings – at least they stayed unmoving on the wall, and the colours were vibrant. I asked the attendant how she managed to stay in the rooms with the wobbling paintings, and she said her eyes had  ‘adjusted’. I think I might have an epileptic fit or actually throw up first. 
     I was pondering how this might be a new departure in modern installation art, to create an exhibition that nobody could actually look at.
    Here are some examples of Bridget Riley’s work  – from the internet, as of course you are not allowed to take photographs of the paintings. They wobble much more in the flesh than in photographs, but you get the idea.

Bridget Riley op-art wobbling paintings

Colours – no wobbling

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