His hands fly over that instrument, teasing a string here and touching one there.
An instrument that comes all the way from the mountains of Bavaria, rendering
tunes collected from all over the world. And guess how the instrument got there?
It's our very own Santoor… it had traveled the route from India to Germany centuries
ago, and there the Germans adopted it to make it their own! And Rudi Zapf, with
two tiny hammers and with an intimate knowledge of every string and knowing just
what to do to get the right note from it, his hands flying in the air, hardly
visible… it was an experience that belies words.
His partner, Wolfgang Neumann, a little eclipsed by the flamboyance of this man's performance, but no less competent at speaking the language of music or tuning his guitars ("changing their moods", as he would put it), came out with a variety of sounds that most people think are beyond guitars. And when one is reminded that most of the tunes were composed by him, we realize the abundance of talent that this man has to go with his skill.
Rudi Zapf and Wolfgang Neumann, two musicians from Germany performing in India as part of the German Festival in India, performed in Hyderabad on the evening of the 5th of November. The concert at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Auditorium in Basheerbagh received a surprisingly heartening response.
The night started out with a quiet air of expectation, and went on to become a pure experience - that of being lost in music. People moving their hands in unison, unaware that they are doing so; that slight silence preceding the applause after each number, showing how lost the people were in the music; the standing ovation that the artistes received at the end of the concert - everything showed how enriching an experience this was for the audience. At the end even the most tone-deaf person in the audience was standing there with the others clapping in appreciation of the music that he was treated to.
Zapf and Neumann were in perfect sync, with one giving the base rhythm while the other played. From the Tango to a carol, from the polka to an Irish melody, from a waltz to a Romanian folk number, these two took the entire auditorium on a trip around the world with them. All one had to do was close his eyes, and the images took over. One particular number, The Devil's Dance, was so evocative that you could almost see Satan himself tapping his feet. Just as you could feel the snow drift down when they played another piece, which Neumann said he composed after the first snow on a winter night in Munich.
The concert got off without much delay - there weren't any irritating speeches or mementos before the show, and the artistes started off promptly. The photographers, as is usual, walked all over the place in an exhibition of professional competence, but a subtle remark from Neumann had them scurrying back to the seats, rather embarrassed. Later in the show, another subtle remark saw many cell-phones being shut off.
The artiste's humor was not reserved just for these hints, but also showed in the small intros that he gave each piece. Irritants removed, one could lean back and appreciate the petite nuances like the competent sound system with proper live mixing. This was one evening that the people in the auditorium are going to remember and savor, considering that some of them even bought the CDs featuring the artistes' music!