Stepping into Toshi Image Studio, I was greeted by floor to ceiling windows looking out on the harbor, and a unique décor which melded traditional and modern Japanese design to create an atmosphere both elegant and quirky. Toshi, our equally stylish host and the owner of this hair salon, had set up a miniature concert hall for about twenty people to enjoy an intimate performance.
I have had my hair cut several times by Toshi, and recently he told me about the monthly concerts and other events which he hosts in his studio on the yacht harbor of Point Richmond. This month, he had invited a bassoon and cello duet, and my curiosity was immediately drawn to this unusual combination.
German bassoonist Friedrich Edelmann and American cellist Rebecca Rust have been going strong as an international duo for over forty years. Both coming from prestigious musical backgrounds, (Edelmann was principal bassoonist for the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra for 27 years and Rust has studied with renowned cellists such as Mstislav Rostropovich) this duo has concertized extensively in Germany, Italy, the U.S.A and Japan. Edelmann and Rust have even had the honor of performing for the Emperor and Empress of Japan in the imperial palace in Tokyo.
But this musical success has not eroded their approachability. Edelmann's introduction to each piece was imbued with enthusiasm and curiosity, a testament to their genuine and humble passion for music.
It was charming to watch Edelmann and Rust perform classics-pieces by Mozart, Bach and Haydn-which had been a part of their repertoire for over forty years. I could sense the intimacy and familiarity that they felt towards these pieces that had traveled with them across the globe and had touched many different audiences. Despite having played this repertoire countless times, they emphasized that each performance was a unique adventure. Their approach to these pieces has not been dulled by repetition. Rather, I felt that they had a profound respect and camaraderie with these compositions and their creators.
As well as having these ripened relationships with certain pieces, Edelmann and Rust demonstrated an openness and curiosity towards music of different cultures and modern composers. Their performance of a series of short Japanese songs reflected the melding of Japanese and western cultures, embodying the venue as well as the diversity of the audience. In addition, Edelmann gave a world début of — newest composition by George Tingley (Edelmann told us that — had been making changes on the composition by email shortly before the concert). Each movement was extremely short, so short that “if you don’t pay attention, it will already be over.” The piece was like a taste-test of a range of emotions, it’s theatrical melodrama making the audience-and Edelmann- laugh.
To learn more about Friedrich Edelmann and Rebecca Rust, visit their website: http://edelmann-rust.com/