Is that all there is?
Peggy Lee's lament came readily to mind last Sunday, when I attended the final concert of this year's Park City International Music Festival. It just didn't seem possible that six weeks had already flown by. Wasn't it just last week that I was looking forward to immersing myself in chamber music at this festival? And now I was suddenly forced to say goodbye to it all. Withdrawal symptoms were starting to set in.Some of my friends thought I was nuts wanting to spend the summer tooling up to Park City all the time for chamber music. Other, more tactful friends didn't say anthing but were probably thinking the same thing.
Nothing I could say to them would make them understand, but the plain and simple truth is, I love chamber music. I love listening to it for probably the same reasons that performers love playing it: You just can't beat the intimacy and one-on-one feeling you get with chamber music.
Chamber music concerts must, out of necessity, be held in small, intimate venues. Because of this, that invisible barrier between audience and performers vanishes - audience and performers blend, you become part of the music. The music engulfs you, you cannot be impervious to it. The music draws you in and charges your mind and spirit with infinitely beautiful aural visions. With the right music and the right performers, these visions become sublime.
This happened a few times at the Park City Festival. One of these unforgettable experiences was hearing violinist Elmar Oliveira in a performance of Tchaikovsky's string sextet, "Souvenir de Florence." The sheer energy generated by this performance was electrifying.
Another memorable performance featured Oliveira's friend, violinist Arturo Delmoni, in Joaquin Turina's Piano Quartet. Once again, the power of this performance was such that it left you drained, yet begging to hear more.
The secret behind these strong performances is what chamber music is all about: These were performances in which everything jelled, in which the performers were one with another, and where the audience felt as much as heard the music.
One of the really neat things about the Park City Festival is that there are no established ensembles performing at any of the concerts. The groups are made up of artists of diverse musical backgrounds.
Many are members of orchestras, while others are soloists or free-lance artists. But all share an interest in and a love for chamber music. This type of set-up allows many musicians the opportunity, which they ordinarily wouldn't have, to perform this music.
This, by the way, is the case with Oliveira. He is best known as a soloist and, according to him, 90 percent of his appearances are as a concert violinist. However, he misses the chance to play in a chamber ensemble and to perform with his wife, violist Sandra Robbins. This year things worked out so that he could come to Park City with his wife and allow the local audience to see this other side of his artistry.
There were many other noteworthy performances and superb musicians at this year's festival. There were also a lot of exciting and unusual concerts, such as the two where a couple of Charlie Chaplin shorts were shown, cleverly set to the chamber music of Beethoven and Dvorak.
But for now, as we draw the curtain on another summer, all that remains to be said is "la comedia es finita." And yes, I'm already looking forward to next year.