Thursday, November 01, 2012

Knots and do nots

To The Forge in Camden last night to hear our friend Sasha Seim's performance of her songs with a string quartet. This is a fascinating step in the tradition of great composers like Schubert and Mahler with the additional twist that Sasha sings them rather than playing the piano.

The venue was completely full and just the right size for Sasha's thought-provoking, playful, intimate and really compelling songs.  There are also echoes of the great 20th C songwriters like Cole Porter. The concert was called "Knots and do nots" after a song of that name ("you are a master at untying knots, and do nots"). For me the finest song of all was one advising a friend that "you're worthy of more" which is about someone who is dumbing herself down in a rather abusive relationship, and the one that got called for an encore "How do you kiss a kind man?"  which is about the predicament of a girl who wants to fall in love with man who is very kind to her (and is already her boyfriend) but just can't.  She also dedicated her final song ("See Through") to her art teacher at St Paul's Miss Evans who was in the audience.

Sasha really really should write opera - her idiom is fantastic: contemporary, accessible and profound at the same time. Each song tells, or rather hints at, a story and a sequence of them from different viewpoints would be amazing.  The quartet-writing was also superb: never over-obtrusive but really interesting.

I was delighted that Ruth Palmer was also there (I introduced Ruth and Sasha some years ago) and it was great to hang out with Ruth and some of Sasha's friends afterwards - and Sasha a bit but she was mobbed with so many of her friends having come to see and hear her.  Ruth has a whole series of really exciting concerts coming up including the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in Aberdeen in a concert which also sees the world première of her father's "A Cædmon Symphony" and a concert in Rockefeller University in NYC on Dec 7th at lunchtime.  There are several more bookings in the US stretching I believe to 2014.  Go go to hear her (and buy her CDs) she is amazing.

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