Monday, July 19, 2010

On Lotte Obratsov

Blackie's Blues

I remember the place we met - an old army barracks that had been converted to a rehearsal studio. The September sun entered the narrow faded room through the wood frame window. Outside the window was an apple tree with small misshapen fruit. It was quiet. The old barracks were somewhat out of the way, on the outskirts of the city.

Lotte sat at a very sturdy but scarred wooden work table going over a score.

I had only recently met the fellow who introduced us, a friendly but empty-headed tenor.
“Here's Lotte, a unique individual, you'll love her ... one of a kind..”

Lotte ignored his somewhat patronizing introduction and began sharing her enthusiastic and completely original, to my mind, thoughts on Berlioz, just as if we were old friends resuming an interrupted chat.

As we (mostly Lotte), compared the songs from “Les Nuits D'ete” Lotte illustrated her ideas by singing phrases, tapping out rhythms and interjecting surprisingly (at first) earthy colloquialisms such as “Any one can tell, that passage is flat as piss on a plate!”

Lotte moved from Berlioz to a discussion of a contemporary composer whom I had never heard of, and when I confessed my ignorance, she described his avant-garde experiments with such clarity and humour that I put aside my prejudice and became quite anxious to hear his compositions.

But I was ever more curious to get to know Lotte. I was captivated, as so may audiences have been, before and since.

From the road,

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