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The Culture Vulture

About cultural things: music, dance, literature and theatre.

CULTURE or SPORT? The Beatles or the FIFA World Cup?
Saturday, November 26, 2022 @ 6:59 AM

What’s it to be? thought the Culture Vulture. The Beatles Songbook or England v. USA in the Qatar World Cup? Both were on at the exact same time.

The FIFA World Cup only comes around every four years, and after the English team’s pulsating 6-2 win in their first match against Iran, surely this was a game not to be missed.

The concert of Beatle music was for one night only, and it did sound exciting. Six musicians, four strings, one piano and a xylophone, reinterpreting Beatles’ masterpieces.

What did the Culture Vulture choose?


I posted my dilemma on Facebook, and to a man and woman, the responses all counselled the concert – and this from football-mad Spaniards!

So, that’s what I decided to do. After all, I could watch the football highlights later on BBC1.

And, boy oh boy, did I make the right choice. The concert was brilliant and, as I was to later find out, the football match didn’t have any highlights. It was a boring 0-0 draw in which England were fortunate to gain a point. USA had dominated the match.

Back to the concert. It was free-of-charge, so I got to the Teatro Vicente Espinel in Ronda half an hour early to be sure of getting a seat. There were only six people there before me! Great. I got my pick of the seats. Third row from the stage, in the middle.

By the time the concert began the numbers had swelled to around 150. Still not many out of a Ronda population of 33,000, however. Perhaps they had all stayed in to watch the footie!

The band came on stage. Cuarteto Granada with special guests Javier Navas and José Carra made up the six musicians, five males and a female. Their instruments were piano, two violins, a viola, a cello and a xylophone. A xylophone? How does that work?

Well, it did! And how! The audience was treated to 90 minutes of great tunes re-arranged as instrumentals to suit the instruments on show. As the only percussion the xylophone really worked well and enhanced the whole performance.

They kicked off with “Eleanor Rigby”, well-suited to strings, of course. By the way, the original Beatles’ version of this iconic song is the only one on which no Beatle plays a note. Fact.

Then we sat back and enjoyed their versions of “Across the Universe”, “Day Tripper”, “Come Together”, “Blackbird” and “Norwegian Wood”, before they concluded with George Harrison’s “Something”, a track from the album Abbey Road, “You Never Give me Your Money”, and “A Day in the Life” from Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

A triumph, even without the moving lyrics of the original.

A standing ovation brought us a triumphant encore, “Let it Be”, one of their last ever recordings.

I had been sitting with my pal Emilio, who is a local lad around my age. We both agreed that this music by the Fab Four from Liverpool represents the classical music of that era, the 1960s. John Lennon, long dead, and Paul McCartney, just turned 80 and still touring, really were the Mozart and Mendelssohn of the 20th Century.


©  The Culture Vulture


Tags: Abbey Road, A Day in the Life, Beatles, Beatles Songbook, Blackbird, cello, Come Together, concert, Cuarteto Granada, Culture Vulture, Eleanor Rigby, England, Fab Four, Facebook, FIFA, football, free-of-charge, Javier Navas, John Lennon, José Carra, Let it Be, Liverpool, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Norwegian Wood, Paul McCartney, piano, population, Qatar, Ronda, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Something, Teatro Vicente Espinel, triumph, USA, viola, violin, World Cup, xylophone

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