Tuesday 29 September 2015

Madras String Quartet - Purcell Room

Mohan Rao
The forms and instruments were those expected when entering the Purcell Room (21/07/2015), the two violins, viola and cello were the shape that is pictured in the mind. The sound was abstracted and unexpected. Definitions twisted in the mouth and often spat out their sentiments like elegant tourreted impulses.

K Sasikumar
Four men sat on stage, dressed in white, their canvas as blank as my mind. The furthest to the left was leader VS Narasimhan and as our gaze headed right we captured Mohan Rao (violin), VR Sekar (cello) and finally K Sasikumar (viola). An hour journey of abstract proportion awaited that would evoke the metaphorical smell of Proust's madeleine. The involuntary memory that starts as an abstract form yet materialises as an object that is as indestructible and complete as a Fisher Price toy.

The music taunted us to cry, piggy back pats and those childhood games that are both cruel and addictive. VS Narasimhan's violin let out the whine of a child, the infants gaze settling on page after page of those old fashioned books of fables and myths, warts and jokes, light and dark. The viola was the maturity, the cello the voice of reason. It was the tension of a squirming tadpole in the palm, sliding between the fingers before being lost in the grass.

VS Narasimhan
Pride made us sit up straight backed, Narasimhan laced the brocade of his music as though his willowy fingers twisted the buttons on a uniform. The four of them were the foundation stones in a young boy's dam, the dancing water passed around them. The only movement, the eyebrow jig from VR Sekar's eyebrows. It was if the quartet had been carved from the hillside, steps of narrow fertile farmland. Perhaps there had been a little erosion with age but it was easy to call this wisdom, and to trust your footing in the ascent of these steps.

VR Sekar
It was never clear whether the long shoots and teetering stems of the violins spoke of dying or living. All that was clear was that the sound was malleable and dropped into Purcell Room laps like a wriggling being, a plasticine and abstract spirit. The connection was initiated by our eyes, watching the performers' nimble digits but feeling the twitch in our own fingers too. It was a night of naked Fingerbob dancers.


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