Monday, March 9, 2009


Yesterday afternoon, Tehachapi was treated to a flood of incredible music from Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. It was kind of a day for firsts--the first time the duo had visited Tehachapi and the first time the new BeeKay Theatre had been used for a concert. For me it was a first, too: despite years of listening to Mr. Fraser on CD, this was the first time I had ever seen him live. All I can say is, if you get a chance to do the same, please do! Even if Scottish fiddling isn't your thing, there is an excellent chance you will enjoy it thoroughly. The drive and the exceptional sweetness of Mr. Fraser's playing would probably hold its own in any setting, but it is hard to imagine a better complement for it than Natalie Haas' equally adept cello work. The entire show was just the two of them, and yet they more than adequately conveyed an infectious sense of rhythm that might be thought impossible without, say, a constant guitar going in the background. Both, likewise, had a true understanding of the tunes, as if every note was given due consideration and played in the manner that best suited it. If a phrase called for silence, it was whispered. If a bar was naturally exuberant, it fairly danced off the strings. In all, I would call it a rare thing to hear music that is so alive.
* * * * *
A bit of a tangent--one of the loveliest pieces of the afternoon was the Shetlander Tom Anderson's air, "Da Slockit Light". It was a piece whose title I had run across a fair amount when I was going through the books at the music store, and, without really thinking about it, had formed a vague (and incorrect) notion in my mind that "Slockit" was a headland in Shetland that had a lighthouse built on it. Not so! Mr. Fraser explained, before playing the tune, that the composer was looking down on a village at night, noticing how fewer lights were shining than had shone when he was young. "Slockit" means roughly, "extinguished," in this case. And yes, as a matter of fact, I do want to know if it's of Norse origin, and whether it is related to the archaic "slake". (And yes, it was a beautiful, beautiful tune!)

No comments: