NCH: Igudesman and Joo

Force of circumstance, it was a tight run thing to see whether I would make it to Igudesman and Joo last night; and in the end, fortune prevailed. This is a good thing. The concert was great, great fun.

The National Concert Hall was about half full which in some ways was disappointing; the gig was such that I think the next time the pair come to visit, they will sell a lot more tickets.

If you’re not familiar with them, their big, big viral hit is I Will Survive of which there are a number of versions on Youtube (but here’s one) but that is just a mere hook into the monumental crazy experience that is one of their gigs. Before they close out with that, you will experience the frustration of a time share piano, the wonder of seeing a concert pianist playing Eric Satie while lying on the floor and seeing a kungfu violinist. And I must confess it is completely news to me how much in common All By Myself has with Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto. It’s hard to pick out the most effective moments – this version of Rondo Alla Turca by Mozart is evidence of musical talent on a scale which few can offer. If you don’t play music, what they do here is incredibly difficult to do and get right. They did that last night too.

What is on show is some very interesting and rather crazy comic talent, very, very sharply scripted (and they stick robustly to that script), but it would not work at all if the musical talent was not there, underpinning it all. A tango dancing violinist would not be all that entertaining if he didn’t happen to also be playing Libertango near perfectly. And for all the physical comedy involved with contending with Rachmaninov’s handspan chords in one of his Preludes, the truth is, before the props come out, Joo has already demonstrated that he is technically a very strong musician as well. Both Igudesman and Joo are consummate musicians and that is why they are so effective at what they do on the comedy side. In one respect, Victor Borge was the same; his comedy would not have worked without his also being a very strong musician technically speaking.

The boys got ┬ástanding ovation and a super reception last night. Ultimately I hope they will be back and that word of mouth will do for them what I’ve seen it do for people like Tommy Emmanuel in the past…grow their audience. What was refreshing (and not often the case on a Friday night) was the noticeable presence of children in the NCH.

The duo’s YouTube channel is here.