Saturday, March 08, 2008

Leningrad

Well who'd have guessed? This is the first weekend (excluding Christmas) that I've had both days off from work since October last year. I am writing this with a new haircut and having had a long walk out to beyond Buckingham Palace this morning. The route I take would be much quicker if I didn't have to do a huge detour around the grounds of the palace. Sadly one suspects that Her Maj wouldn't take too kindly to ramblers and the razor-wired fences act as a further deterrent.

I'm now back at home watching England lose in the rugby. T has plans to take photos tomorrow so I had best go and dust off the tripod and associated paraphernalia.

I promised to write up the details of the rest of my week but I got sidetracked by work (again). On Wednesday night a few friends and I went to see the Royal Philharmonic perform Shostakovich's 7th Symphony at The Royal Festival Hall (this is turning into quite a regal post isn't it?). Following a moment of panic where we received a phone-call from one of our number who'd gone to the Barbican, having convinced himself that was the venue, we all made it to our seats on time. Shostakovich's 7th is, I think, my favourite piece of classical music. It's a huge piece, taking an hour and quarter to perform but the range of emotion that runs through the piece easily holds your attention. I remember the first time I heard it was the last year I studied music at school, so I'd have been about fourteen. The small excerpt we heard so grabbed me that I told my parents that night over dinner. So glad were they that their long-haired, spotty, heavy metal loving offspring had declared an interest in something they could relate to that they immediately went out and got it on CD. I have loved it ever since and listen to it frequently.

Wednesday's performance was very good. The conductor seemed largely ineffectual as the exhortations he made had no effect upon the members of the orchestra who seemed quite content to take things at a pace that suited them. They carried this off with aplomb. I think I am still spoiled by last year's Prom performance by the Simon Bolivar Orchestra because every classical show I've been to since just hasn't had that same level of passion and enthusiasm. Wednesday's performance was firmly in the very professional category rather than sparks flying. Nonetheless the music is so potent that I had hairs standing on the back of my neck for large sections and there was a tear in my eye at the end of the first movement.

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