Bellman culture watch, weekend whirlwind edition

Friday: Soweto Gospel Choir - The choir was great throughout and performed an especially good version of Amazing Grace, but the show didn't really work for me until after the ushers let the folks who had bused in from the Bethel AME church move up into the unoccupied seats in my section. You just can't appreciate a good choir when you're surrounded by well-behaved people of culture who would not, under any circumstances, clap on the two and four or raise a quivering hand while shouting, "Amen, Jesus, take me Lord!"

Saturday: Milton Nascimento and the Jobim Trio - The first thing to know about the Jobim Trio is that it's a quartet. The first several numbers featured the trio performing Jobim standards. Mellow, except that the drumming of Paolo Braga was out of this world. He would set up a rhythym, maybe on the hi-hat, and then send it orbiting around his kit with just enough retrograde motion in the epicycle to ensure plenty of cow bell. Nascimento took a little while to warm up, but the meat of his set was quite good. I guess the trio needed to have Rodrigo Villa on electric bass in order to give heft to some of Nascimento's pop hits, but I thought that for the most part the bass only served to muddy up the sound of the group.

Sunday: Anne-Sophie Mutter with Camerata Salzburg - Here's some free advice. If you ever have an opportunity to see a virtuoso soloist play the violin, take it. Tartini's Devil's Trill, which I hadn't heard before, was the highlight of the evening and the weekend.

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