Prom 14: "Wouldn't you just die without Mahler?"
- Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR)
- Sir Roger Norrington conductor
I was away for a few days in sunny Suffolk but hi-tailed (hightailed?) it back for this Prom. Roger Norrington's last. Sitting up in the gallery as I was I didn't realise for ages he was conducting it sitting down - never seen that before.
I loved it. There seems to have been lots of chatter about the lack of vibrato and whether that really is 'authentic' as Norrington believes or not. Made no difference to me. There were bits where I laughed, bits where it was dramatic and the final, gorgeous lingering notes. Only marred by the annoying man walking up and down with noise shoes. Grrrr, wait until it's over why don't you.
And then....he gave us an encore. Elgar's Elegy for Strings. Purists are steaming and it has to be said, following Mahler 9 with anything is odd, but I loved it. Both the piece itself, the performance and
the having of it as an encore. It worked well for me, there was stillness in the gallery (no annoying man walking up and down) so I gained some equilibrium back and it felt a very Prom thing to do. To be a bit rebellious.
Prom 6: It was all rite
I really went to this Prom because a) I have a half season pass so thought I ought to get to some concerts and b) Rite of Spring is considered a modern classic and I really don't know it very well and have never heard it live. I did however go to the interesting Re-Rite
a few years ago where the piece is broken down and you wander through rooms listening to the different orchestral sections separately, following along with a score if you want, or banging on some actual percussion in the percussion section, till you get to one room where it's all mixed together. I guess it was rather odd to do that when I didn't really know the piece but I was a bit obsessed at the time with someone who was obsessed with Stravinsky so I wanted to learn.
Anyway, I wasn't really in a concert going mood, so it was all nice to experience but nothing really set me going. And I think my new found love for Brahms may be confined to his symphonies. Or more likely I just have a lot more listening to do
Weber Oberon - overture (9 mins)
Brahms Concerto in A minor for Violin and Cello (Double Concerto) (32 mins)
Stravinsky The Rite of Spring (33 mins)
- Renaud Capuçon violin
- Gautier Capuçon cello
- Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
- Myung-Whun Chung conductor
Prom2: William Tell
Definition of an intellectual: someone who can hear the William Tell overture and not think of the Lone Ranger.
As I've never seen the Lone Ranger but came across William Tell as a child (I have a horrible feeling arranged for a recorder group - can that be right? Hmm maybe it was as a simplified piano piece) I never think of the him, but am not sure that makes me an intellectual.
Anyway, the whole opera is rarely performed, apparently it's a stunningly difficult piece for the tenor, as well as being well over three hours long. (The four hours quoted elsewhere do include the intervals.)
So this was a concert performance and I loved it. Well I was bound to really, as it's set in the alps it had an awful lot of horns. And I do have a penchant for French horns. There was a glorious bit where I thought "golly that horn's awfully close" and realised he was just a few metres down from me in the gallery. The gallery horns (there was another one elsewhere) bounced off each other and orchestra down below - gorgeous stuff. (And as he made his way down afterwards in flamboyant Italian fashion he bowed and blew kisses to us all - oh how I love the gallery.)
I like opera but I'm no opera buff. I thought the two female leads had stunning voices but for me it was the orchestra that really made it. They were fantastic. And the conductor.
The whole thing was well worth four hours standing, sitting and lying in the Royal Albert Hall and a bitch of a journey home. (Didn't get back till after midnight.)
Rossini William Tell (180 mins)
concert performance; sung in French.
- Michele Pertusi baritone (William Tell)
- John Osborn tenor (Arnold Melchthal)
- Matthew Rose bass (Walter Furst)
- Frédéric Caton bass (Melchthal)
- Elena Xanthoudakis soprano (Jemmy)
- Nicolas Courjal bass (Gesler)
- Carlo Bosi tenor (Rodolphe)
- Celso Albelo tenor (Ruodi)
- Mark Stone baritone (Leuthold)
- Malyn Byström soprano (Mathilde)
- Patricia Bardon mezzo-soprano (Hedwige)
- Davide Malvestio bass (Huntsman)
- Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome
- Antonio Pappano conductor
First Night of the Proms
Need to note these down here to remind myself of what I went to!
I love being up in the Gallery at the Proms
but have only ever done it as a day prommer before. But this year I have a half season pass so should be going to quite a few.
Judith Weir -Stars, Night, Music and Light (c4 mins) BBC Commission, World Premiere
Brahms -Academic Festival Overture (11 mins)
Liszt -Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major (20 mins)
Janáček - Glagolitic Mass (45 mins)
This was my first ever first night. I surprised myself by enjoying the new commission (the eager young teenager next to me said "they should have sacked the lyricist" but he'll grow up one day to appreciate George Herbert.) I loved the Janacek which I'd not heard before. (Three sets of timpani, what's not to like?) The Brahms sounded a bit muddy but that may have been the RAH acoustics and it definitely reminded me that Brahms is not what I expect and I like him a lot and really should listen to more. The Lizst mainly left me cold (I like dramatics in my Lizst) but the playing was superb and his encore (Brahms Hungarian Dance 5 - no I didn't know this, I got it from the reviews the next day!) was fab.
Achoo, achoo, achoo. Sniff, snuff, sniffle.
Today's blog is brought to you through a fog of sneezing and runny nose.
Not hay fever. But a cold. A cold. In July. Not fair.
In other news: the people at the box office at the Albert Hall are lovely. I'm going Prom, Prom, Promming, up, up, up in the Gallery but the pass confirmation only arrived yesterday so no time to send photos off to them and get a pass back before tomorrow night. But they say that's OK. (Have a half season Gallery pass. Would have got a whole season one but, er, I left it too late.)
First up: Jancek's Glagolitic Mass tomorrow and the whole (not just the Overture) of William Tell on Saturday. Yay.
Simple Summer Supper
I don't normally eat a lot of meat. And I only eat free-range meat. I'd rather not have an animal suffer for my pleasure. But I found myself on Friday afternoon at a meeting over the road from an amazing organic/free-range butchers. And oddly found myself drawn to not lamb which I love and which I normally buy, but pork. Pork chops to be specific.
I can't even remember the last time I had a pork chop. Quite possibly it was when I was a teenager.
Anyway, grilled, spread with two types of mustard (Dijon and grainy) and served with greens from the garden and rice, they made a perfect simple summer supper. Accompanied by a glass or two of rose.
(This is the "for lunch I ate a cheese sandwich" type of blogging that is so despised, isn't it??!)
Cy Twombly redux
Following yesterday's post I dreamt about Cy Twombly last night.
And secret military bases with underground submarines. (I knew there were submarines under the ground because their periscopes were sticking up.)
Perhaps I shouldn't eat cheese before bed.
Though on a food related note (says she remembering that this blog was supposed to be about food and faith) gooseberry chutney is delicious.
I'd never heard of him until I went to an exhibition at Tate Modern in 2008
that blew me away. The thing is reproductions of his work, such as the one I've pasted in here, really, really don't do it justice. Looking at it here it can seem a bit of a splodge of colours. But in reality - oh my - the energy, the movement, the earthiness, the sheer sexuality.
I bought a mug of the above painting. I think people must wonder why I have it (if they don't know his work) because it's not particularly pretty. But, as you can just about see in the above, but is really overwhelming in the original, it's a woman with splayed legs, nether regions on display and encroaching / approaching male genitalia. Powerful stuff. It amuses me that someone's tried to translate that onto gift shop memorablia. And that people drinking out of it have no clue.
Packing it in
I've had a busy weekend.
A friend stayed on Friday night and we stayed up far too late eating, chatting and watching the West Wing.
Saturday morning I was out on the water paddling an outrigger canoe
. Gorgeous day for it.
Saturday afternoon and evening my father and step-mother were here. Which of course necessitated a lot of tidying and cleaning to get my place to the stage where they could tut at how messy I am. They brought up a whole load of papers they'd discovered stashed away in a cupboard somewhere which appear to be souvenirs from my childhood that my parents had kept: school reports, school concert programmes....that kind of thing. Though in the very brief look I've had so far there was also an A5 piece of card with a number on it. I'm thinking this may have been a number I wore in a race at some point. Or maybe....? Ack, who knows. It would appear my father is as much of a hoarder and clutter bunny as I am.
Sunny Sunday morning saw me working my way through the crowds at Colombia Road Flower Market
, picking up a whole heap of bright red pelargoniums (that's a geranium to you and me) and salvias, and a couple of white cosmos, before meeting my friend J and his parents for lunch.
Then, after a quick dash home to drop off the plants, off to the British Museum where I was singing in the Great Court (with a community choir, not on my own) for the evening community opening of the Treasures of Heaven
exhibition. We also got to go to the exhibition but that probably deserves a separate post. Sadly though I managed to miss the reliquary with the breast milk of the Virgin Mary.
Then pub. An interesting, but far too serious conversation for late on a Sunday evening, about religion, spirituality and what on earth is meant by "secular spirituality".
Phew. I'm exhausted now. Need another weekend in which to recover.
It's Friday again. Hurrah. And if I'm not actually managing to blog daily I do appear to be doing it a lot more frequently again. Double hurrah.
Though they* say you shouldn't blog unless you have anything to blog about. And the main things I have to blog about I want to keep private for a bit. So really this is just wittering.
I know, I can blog about my garden. It's all going a bit Pete Tong. My first round of radishes did brilliantly but the second seeding don't seem to have germinated at all. Neither have the salad leaves. Even the red chard seems to be failing me and that's normally really reliable.
I did two wigwams: one for runner beans and one for French beans. None of the French beans have germinated. The runners did, but one has now been completely eaten by slugs. In fact the slugs have been on a massive rampage.
And I nearly killed my beautiful pieris. It's in a pot and I clearly failed to water it enough in the dry spell we had earlier in the year. It was looking OK for ages and then suddenly it was all brown. I've been drenching it thoroughly (probably giving in quite a shock in the process) and, touch wood, there are signs of new greenness. Should I cut all the old brown stuff off. Anyone have a clue?
Right. Onwards and upwards - time to have a conversation about Appreciative Inquiry and worker empowerment.