Last night was great, – was at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, London for an evening concert by the BBC Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Semyon Bychkov). It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and although the first item in the programme (the UK première of Detlev Glanert’s “Shoreless River”) may not have been to everyone’s taste, personally I found it pretty interesting. It’s apparently a taste of the kind of music to expect from his next opera.
Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini was brilliantly performed by Denis Matsuev, although I think pretty much the whole audience was a little surprised that he didn’t have an encore (possibly the length of the concert ruled that out anyway).
The second half performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 “The Year 1905” was really the main event of the evening and sitting where we were -directly behind the first violins- mean that even if the sound wasn’t entirely balanced, we did feel very involved with the music. During the finale, the score calls for bells to be rung, and usually that means tubular bells, however last night the BBC Symphony Orchestra used actual, full-size bells, which looked as if they’d previously been in some church tower! They sounded very impressive, even if at the end it required the efforts of three percussionists in order to dampen them!
Pretty much the only downside to the day was the ferry home. We’d already discovered that there was no midnight sailing, so took our time getting down the A3 for the 1am boat. Upon arrival it turned out that the 1am was actually going to be the 1.45am, due to unspecified ‘operational reasons’. I think it was pretty much 3am by the time we made it to Brighstone.
Not in the bad way either – the IWSO concert was completely sold-out on Saturday, and went really well. Especially important from my perspective was the complete absence of any collapsing percussion instruments! Even the tubular bells, the stand for which had lain at the back of a cupboard for many years, stood up to the hammering (please excuse the bad pun).
It was a long concert, the finish made later for the percussion section due to the sheer amount of kit we had to dismantle and stow in various cupboards, cars and vans; but I think we all enjoyed it.
It’s the last Symphony Orchestra concert of the current season next Saturday (12th July), – and it’s going to be a good one.
I don’t think the rest of the orchestra realise just how much space the percussion section is going to take up, – here’s just the largest of the instruments we’ll be playing:
- Pedal Timpani (not sure if there’ll be 3 or 4, but they’re pretty large anyway)
- Bass Drum
- Tubular Bells
- Drum Kit
In addition to those, there’ll be a wide assortment of other drums (Congas, Bongos etc.), Cymbals and miscellaneous auxiliary instruments (including a bird whistle!).
The IWSO concert at the weekend went pretty well in the end, – despite the fact that we were unable to perform Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 that we’d prepared (we’re still trying to work out exactly what happened with that one). Chiao-Ying Chang, the pianist instead performed a Liszt piano sonata, which was very well played, even if it wasn’t my favourite piece in the world.
I’m actually slightly relieved that we didn’t do the Concerto, since I wasn’t feeling too well anyway, and the triangle part’s a bit of a pain (I know it sounds daft, but it’s true). I’m blaming Luke for the latest round of illness at work, since he started it…
Work continues on the new theme for this site, but with the IW Cantata Choir concert on Saturday, and rehearsals of one sort or another most evenings this week it’ll be a while before anything much happens.