Owing to my sister’s door opening skills I spent this Tuesday evening at The Royal Albert Hall. It was the opening night of the BUTA festival – Azebijan’s cultural festival.
The main attraction was visually impaired and voice box inspired singer Andrea Bocelli.
The evening began with Azer Rzayev’s stirring violin concerto, performed by virtuoso Shlomo Mintz. He played with such electric gusto, power, and skill I thought his cat guts might snap! All concertos are mesmerising, but this chap really displayed his own character into his interpretation of the composer’s work.
I say it was magnetic, but during his stirring second movement one character sitting four rows ahead took centre stage. In the most oikish display I have ever seen at a classical concert, this man had spied his friend sitting 10 metres away. He stood up bold as brass, like the most obvious Where’s Wally, and waived relentlessly at him. He then proceeded to text and call his oblivious friend. This continued for around ten minutes.
The first half continued with an Azeri Mugham trio, who appeared to be lamenting about something very serious. The interval lasted an acceptable 20 minutes and we were deemed grown up enough to bring our drinks back to our seats (take note Barbican centre!!).
The second half included a pianist called Isfar Sarabski. Incongruous against the classical background Montreux prize-winner Isfar Sarabski seemed strangely at home. He had tinges of jazz, classical, blues, and Ludovico Einaudi. Isfar Sarabski will be showcasing his skills at ‘Jazerbaijan’ sometime in the next few months – well worth going if you want to someone with classical skills performing something unique vibrant and modern.
All eyes and ears proceed to the headline act – Andrea Bocelli. The audience became expectantly quiet and a sea of mobile phones and cameras shone like stars in the dark.
Led on by his personal conductor, he was, like most affluent Italian men, dressed suavely. He sung three songs, with the last being his signature song Con Te Partiro. Even on an evening dripping in quality performances from stars of the classical world, it was startling obvious that Bocelli was a bonafide superstar. His voice is as smooth as vintage bourbon and as powerful as a ship – an absolute pleasure to sit and listen to.
The final song, Con Te Partiro, is an uplifting end to any concert. It was a magnificent crescendo to a wonderful night and an exceptionally optimistic ending. The entirety of The Albert Hall swamped Kensington and formed an impossibly woeful choir singing Time To Say Goodbye.