May 31 2011 Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
FOR his third visit to the Perth Festival Rainer Hersch, the self-styled only (half) German comedian… ever!, moved to the larger venue of Perth Concert Hall and was awarded an upgrade to an eight-piece band.
And what a band! Four were the members of the superb Tippett String Quartet, this year’s Artists-in-Residence, others were accomplished students of the RSAMD. Happily, a large number of people had either followed him there or accidentally ended up in the audience to keep up the atmosphere and enjoy the madcap aura of musical silliness.
Sometimes it is the simplest of humour that just catches the right edge: in trying to up the earnings of the band one of the things he said they did was play for fireworks – cue a few joyous bars of Handel, break off, then a rising vocalization of Oooh! A few more bars then, falling, Aaaah! Simple, but perfect.
The wrong note idea was there, too: Mozart (who, he opined, had written with great foresight music for hundreds of films) and what was the true inspiration behind his Symphony No 40. Orff’s Carmina Burana came in for the hilarious treatment of what people are actually singing, for we all know (!) that people sing in English and not these foreign languages.
There was a leavening of good music played straight: Leroy Anderson’s The Typewriter, dances Hungarian and Slavonic by Brahms and Dvorak and Rainer Hersch himself as piano soloist in the slow movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21, (which, if I myself may add a fact, is sometimes called on CDs ‘Elvira Madigan’ after the Swedish film it is played in!).
One part which may have surprised Rainer Hersch himself was the inviting up of three audience members to conduct. The first two did what one might expect: arbitrary speeding up/slowing down, poor rhythm. The third just happened to be this year’s chairman of the Perth Festival of the Arts Committee, who given the arduous task of conducting Postman Pat kept them up to speed and in time!
It was an innocent evening of fun and enjoyment about something which gives great joy and pleasure, but does sometimes get a bit too earnest.
A final nice touch was that after being called back for encores and curtain calls Rainer Hersch for his final bow went well back into the band and took it from there.