Search this Blog


Sunday, October 6, 2013

WE: weekend or Western Electric? A very musical weekend... Hopkinson Smith and Fred Frith at Basel's Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and visiting Andre' Klein & His Mighty Western Electric 15A and Klangfilm systems and Gunter Tobian's Atelier

A text will follow... as a preview, here are some random pixes of the trip, involving meeting dear (audio) friends like Jean Hiraga, Tim Gurney, Thomas Schick, Andre' Klein, Klaus Speth, Reinhard Huttenburg, Bernd Wieland, Julien Sullerot, Dragan Beronja... and personal musical heroes like Hopkinson Smith and Fred Frith (yes!) performing in Basel... friendly scheduled in the same evening!!! for "Basel Plucks" festival and visiting The Temple Of Music in Basel - i.e. Schola Cantorum Basiliensis... WOW!

Both WEs were true! 

Yes, folks... a 1607 (supremely musically soaked  km round-trip for yours truly...

Woke up a 5 A.M. on last Friday for the first of many music and audio oriented meeting during the ongoing weekend... I found a nice "Scherzo" integrated amplifier using 2 x PCL82 tubes... 1,7W of pure music and detailing bliss conceived years ago by Luca Chiomenti (KIOM) from Naples, which I had delivered from previous owner while en route to Switzerland and France.

A sought-after little gizmo, specially designed by Luca for the La Scala's.

Then, more highway and beautiful Swiss' landscapes, I arrived in Basel for midday and first visit was at... crazy I am... no museums, churches, restaurants, the old town, shops... no... straight to Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Leonhardstrasse, where virtually ALL the ancient music praxis began, decades ago. 

There I discovered I was - by chance - in the middle of above mentioned "Basel Plucks", a four days festival of Basel's residents musicians... a rare and unexpected opportunity... BUT - also if I had to STRONGLY push myself to do not stop in Basel for ALL concerts and lectures and lessons - something I'll sure do next year - I decided to go ahead to meet my audio friends, in beautiful Moselle region, up-north.

Imagine my emotion, while visiting the office building, finding - unattended - some music sheets with a label on a window "M. Kujiken's class"...

These buildings and walls are really pouring music and people is sooooooooooooo kind, also with a mid-aged humble blogger from Italy;-)

I really enjoyed the place, so friendly and classy at the same time.

Few dozens meters from the School was an ancient red stone church, near Lohnhof's ex-prison walls and building, where I heard a siren-like organ... oh, oh... it was J.S. Bach... on the church thick door, an A4 paper with the scheduled Schola Cantorum (again) students playing... the one I heard was from Sweden...

Carefully entered and... Holy Johannes-Sebastian... what a sound, beautiful, detailed, full-bodied, extremely clean and unboomy... hey, I'm talking like it was an audio system... BUT it was music, the source of pleasure and beauty, unfiltered... was jaw-dropped for at least ten minutes, when music stopped, the decay, as well... and a sof spoken female voice, the teacher, maybe, was tutoring and hinting the Swedish musician.

WOW... I, again, was VERY seriously thinking to stay in Basel, quitting my meeting with audio pals... no, better... to live in Basel... 

Self-pushing me hardly to the parking for the second time in a couple hours... I was heading to France.

Regretfully so... as I was asking for "why" I was quitting such an heavenly place and town and lively music... was audio more important than (real) music... is audio real music?

Then,  thinking about the gathering and chatting and food and laughing to come... well, I decided to keep the sails on Andre's place, in Moselle, France.

Highway, smaller and smaller and smaller villages, always narrower country roads and I arrived in three hours in a lovely countryside region.

Got my hotel in a village nearby and, while with my light hand-luggage still in hands, opened the main door... oh, oh... "Ciao Thomas!"... Schick, of course... the "chic"-est arm maker from Berlin and a good friend

We had a pleasant walk and conversation which really relaxed us after driving there and... arrived Jean Hiraga and Dragan Beronja and Bruno, a Jean's friend.

The hotel landlady was surprised as we all arrived in a row or so...

We decided to reach the nearby Andre's place also if (someway) uninvited;-)

He was so kind and welcoming us all, a bunch of audio-holics... also if the gathering was for the day after;-)

What a class, pals... Art-Deco stuffs everywhere... due to the late hour, the only sound we had, while chatting was from a 78 rpm shellac on a Victrola gramophone... impressively natural sound.

Andrè showed us the diaphragm/voice coil and... surprise, surprise... it was EXACTLY like a WE 555 diaphragm... same corrugations and design... an incredible revelation, indeed!

He showed to our curious eyes how the "needle" was made a sharp sting from some wooden stick... with a small cigar-like angled metal cutter... more than 80 years old! 

Then, all together to the hotel restaurant, for some beers, and Moselle white wine and a load of Mt. Saint Michel's mussels... and chatting and joking and cheers to Jean Hiraga's good health...

After having dinner... at about 11 P.M. nobody was too tired to miss the first Western Electric 15A's listening session at Andre' s place...  also if all in the bunch had A VEEERY LONG DAY.

(to be continued...)   

No comments: