A Music Tasting

Being neither a chamber music expert nor a French wine expert, last night’s event was an opportunity to learn a bit about both.  The venue was @Libitum Pte Ltd, Music and Art Studio on East Coast Road.  The wine and the information about it were provided by Guillaume of The French Cellar.  The music was performed by @Libitum Quartet.


I imagine some of my readers are thinking “isn’t a quartet four musicians?”  but these five very talented people to not all play at the same time.  When a piece called for the flute, Albert Shagimardanov gave up his seat to his father, Zufar.  The musicians from left to right are Zufar Shagimardanov, Elena Shagimardanov, Albert Shagimardanov, Narine Gevorgyan, and Khachatur Khachatryan.

There were four types of wine, each paired with two pieces of music.  Pairing wine with food has become almost commonplace but pairing it with music was a novelty I could not resist.  Here are my impressions:  The first wine was a sparkling wine called Clairette de Die Tradition.  The first piece of music was Polka Pizzicato by Johan Strauss; bubbly and light-hearted, it danced like the bubbles in my glass.  The next piece, also by Strauss was Tales from the Vienna Woods.  At first, the music seemed staid and sombre, so I was afraid it had been mismatched, and that it would be better with a red wine. Soon the music changed and became whimsical and playful.  I was told later that this kind of music was written to be played in the wine houses on the outskirts of Vienna and was meant to emulate the drunkenness of the patrons.

The next wine was Chateau Haut Bessac, a white wine from Bordeaux.  I thought I must have misunderstood because I thought Bordeaux wine is always red, but Guillaume explained that 80% of the wine from that region is red but not all.  I discovered that white wines from the Bordeaux region are very interesting.  Elena invited the audience to close their eyes and imagine they are in a garden.  The quartet played Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D major and suddenly Zufar’s flute filled the garden with birdsong.  It was magical.  The second piece paired with the white wine was a Baroque Quartet by J.S. Fasch.  This time the music was led by the flute and the strings were like gentle breezes blowing through the imaginary garden.

It was time now to start getting serious.  The first red wine was Bastien from the Cotes de Provence. Accompanying this wine were two pieces by A. Piazzolla, Oblivion and Adios Nanino.  The music, like the wine, was intense.  The finale was a red wine from Bordeaux (Orby) and two tangos; one, Chao Paris by Piazzolla, and Pur Una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel, probably the most recognizable tango ever.

For my readers in Singapore, I recommend checking out the @Libitum Facebook page for upcoming events.

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