An excellent concert - a heavyweight programme given top level performances. When you open a score and see that it starts with two bass clarinets and then the bass tuba comes in at only bar nine you know to expect an exceptionally large orchestra on stage. Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony gives an impression of an alpine mountain hike which starts in the pre-dawn, ascends the mountains wandering through meadow, forest and pasture (these programme points are all itemised quite precisely in the score) before reaching the summit with a huge and expansive view. Strauss’ orchestral textures are dense but Antonio Pappano’s reading showcased Strauss’ effects and impressions without loosing the overall theme and thrill of a day out in the mountains. Crossing the glacier was spiky and perilous, the apparition scary and the vision mysterious. Even the organ solo suggesting passing a village church on the last leg of the homeward hike was given due prominence. A full respectful silence from the audience as the music faded in to the night, followed by an enthusiastic reception.
Marching jazz band Cie La Rumeur et l'Incroyable Freaks Band performing their Déambulation ludique in Marseille St. Charles railway station to promote the 17th Marseille | Jazz des Cinq Continents festival (jazz from five continents). Totally mad but rather a nice way to be greeted at a major rail terminus. I rather liked the jazz piano on the high wheel trolley! A couple of numbers with obvious rail associations, although I didn't hear "Chattanooga Choo Choo". In the best traditions of French musicians, the wacky name of the band currently defies translation...
Brighton’s own Philharmonic started an adventurous New Year’s Eve Viennese Gala with a brisk and colourful rendition of the Overture to Die Fledermaus. Warm strings, confident brass with supportive conducting from Barry Wordsworth. The Brighton Philharmonic clearly enjoy playing together and (having many seasoned players in their ranks) have respect but little fear for technical difficulty. A fullish house, I heard a figure mentioned of more than 1320. So the second item, Bahn Frei (“Line clear”) was doubly ironic as Brighton has been marooned from London by Rail Engineering Works since Christmas Eve.
Franz Lehar’s Waltz Gold and Silver, with its lusciously beautiful melody, was the first of no fewer than four full-scale waltzes in the programme; each given sensitive and intelligent performances, no small feat of preparation and commitment. And shining through the Brighton Philharmonic’s performances is a sense of enjoyment in the same way as happens with the best performances of chamber music amongst friends.
“Streets of London” was one of the background songs to my time at university in Nottingham, the first track on Ralph McTell’s album “Spiral Staircase” (1969). The song’s a mainstay of London buskers even now - I heard it played and sung very creditably by a busker at Leicester Square tube station just yesterday. Not a hit until a rework in 1974, the song has a timelessness with its poignant words and simple tune.
Lots of fun on the South Bank for La Soirée in the Speigeltent, part of the winter festival next to Hungerford bridge. Just to list acrobats, burlesque, magic, melodrama, pole acrobatics, clowning and bubble blowing doesn't do this show justice. Nor does a single photo. The company quickly won over even the knowing London audience (the cabaret atmosphere with the bar open during the show clearly helped).