It’s a rather cool idea to pick a painting from the National Gallery, build a music programme around it and perform that music just in front of it. For free.

The painting chosen for this opening concert was Assunzione della Vergine (The Assumption of the Virgin) by Francesco Botticini

Assunzione della Vergine

The music was Bach cello suite No.6, G.Sollima Concerto Rotondo for violoncello and live electronics and Colombi Ciaccona for violoncello and loop, played by Mario Brunello.

We were all seated in front on the painting on the most uncomfortable chairs I have used on my entire life.

After a short introduction by Brunello himself Guido Beltramini lectured us about the painting. This was a failure. Maybe Mr. Beltramini is an expert on Italian Renaissance or Botticini paintings. However you cannot expect to communicate anything on the 21th century by reading a piece of paper. C’mon. It feels unnatural and it does not work. We all have internet on our phones and wikipedia, so don’t read us anything. For real face to face communication we expect something else, something more natural and more communicative.

And then the music. Oh my God the music. Becase Brunello is a fucking awesome cellist. He has a charm and lyricism and bohemian emerge from him. His Bach was delicate and very free. Captivating all of us.

After the Bach, a contemporary work. It’s amazing how well Bach can be combined with the most modern piece perfectly (you cannot do that with Mozart for example). Concerto Rotondo by Giovanni Sollima is amazing music, truly good. Brunello added live electronics to the piece, generating echoes to different patterns of his playing. The effect was stunning.

Then the old Colombi’s Ciaccona got a modern reinterpretation with Brunello using a loop recording patterns from the work and playing on top of the next one in a polyphonic experience that captivated the audience and got all of us crazy about it.

Brunello is performing a couple of times more this year in the National Gallery. Don’t miss him.