we shared a beautifully decorated box with a lovely older couple and listened to the Raphael Quartet. I'd love to return to Bordeaux some year to take advantage of the Quartet Festival -- and I'd love to see an opera in that magnificent building
Much less formal, but still very satisfying were the impromptu performances we encountered on the Paris streets. Here, music students (at least, that was our best guess) busked their way through a number of classical excerpts in front of the Comédie Française. Over the years, we've seen a number of very talented individuals and groups performing here -- I'd say it's worth stopping by if you're in the area (1st arrondissement).
Our Paris stay coincided with the St. Germain-des-Près Jazz Festival which offers a number of free events along with some hot-ticket items. The Jacques Schwarz-Bart Quartet free mini-concert at FNAC helped turn around my Why's it raining in Paris? grumpiness, and if we hadn't had a dinner scheduled with friends that evening, we would have gone to the main event. As it was, we bought a copy of the quartet's new CD, The Art of Dreaming, and even had it signed my Mr. S-B himself.
We also bought tickets to a concert in Eglise St. Germain to see Laurent de Wilde and Stefano di Battista, playing together for the first time specifically for, and because of, the festival. This was a spectacular concert, mesmerizing, captivating, intoxicating . . . all the superlatives.
And one night we wandered into Cafe Laurent for a drink in an intimate, jazz-soaked setting, pianist and double-bass player being on their last set, just enough music left to send us winding our way home through the still-lively-at-midnight Left Bank streets.
After our run this last Sunday, back on our little island so far from Paris, we put the Schwarz-Bart Quartet CD on and settled in with our newspapers and our usual hearty post-run breakfast of bacon, eggs, and Paul's baking-powder biscuits. . . It's not very French, that breakfast, but one improvises, under the influence of jazz, non?
For another account of impromptu jazz encounters in France, check out my friend Alison's blog -- she's posted a charming watercolour illustration of the piano that enlivened a pique-nique cerises she was fortunate enough to be invited to. Alison's a talented artist, currently cycling through Provence with her husband before she begins teaching a two-week painting class in a small town near Toulouse. I warn you, lifestyle envy will ensue, but she writes and photographs and paints so well, you'll be well rewarded.