The tradition of concerts in the National Gallery dates back to 1922 when students of the Royal College of Music gave the first musical performance in the Gallery. And ‘..when the National Gallery was founded in 1824, one of its stated aims was to provide a resource for the inspiration of all young artists, not just visual artists..’..
This evening I attended one of the current series of concerts, also given by students from the Royal College of Music and sponsored in memory of Belle Shenkman.
The concert was to start at 6.00pm and at this hour the event did indeed begin – with a lengthy historical introduction to the music to be played – an explanation which could have appeared in programme notes. Eventually the music itself began, with further explanations (interesting) from the musicians. The programme reflected thoughts aroused by the paintings in the room and it was revealing to hear how the musicians connected the paintings with their chosen musical works.
Petr Limonov gave a sensitive and interesting performance of Mozart’s Fantasia in c minor, K475, in my view, and associated the work with ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’, commenting on the juxtaposition of clarity/simplicity and drama.
I also enjoyed ‘Brother’ for violin and viola, by Edmund Finnis.
But overall I felt it was a slight occasion – what would Myra Hess have thought, I wondered. If you are in London pop along to future concerts, but don’t make a special trip.