Saturday, January 17, 2009

A London Evening...

The other night, I went to see London Philharmonic perform a pretty amazing lineup of repertoire and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

However, allow me to briefly paint a picture of my short time out on the town beforehand. I went to the concert by myself, so my wandering allowed me to be somewhat more observational than usual. Saying that, it would have been particularly difficult for me to miss the things I saw.

In a true overview of London I noticed the following three things:

1. A giant crowd of tourists standing outside of a Subway restaurant arguing about whether they should eat at Subway, or Ha Ha Bar and Grill (big difference).

2. A street preacher, and

3. A man relieving himself against a railing.

Big props to the bloke for trying to do it inconspicuously, but unfortunately he clearly was not aware that the fence/railing was on the edge of the road and he was facing the traffic. Luckily for me, I was on the same side as his back. The people over the other side of street were not so lucky...

Anyway, on to the concert.

The performance was of excellent quality, overall. The LPO played Richard Strauss' Til Eulenspiegel, Piano Concerto no. 22 by Mozart, K. 482, Suite from 'Daphnis and Chloe' by Maurice Ravel and Firebird Suite - Igor Stravinsky.

Great Grizzly Pandas, what a line up (especially for flutes).

The conductor was a very talented lady by the name of Marin Alsop.

She seemed to inspire the orchestra with a lot of energy and intensity. The shining qualities of each of the pieces were captured extremely well. Til Eulenspiegel was quirky and crazy, Daphnis was just pure magic - floating, soaring, swelling magic and Firebird was just bloody fantastic, mate. Yep, that's the best I can come up with today.

The only thing that didn't work as much, in my opinion, was the Mozart piano concerto. Jonathon Bliss is an exceptional pianist, I can tell that - but he just didn't have the flow and elegance that was presented in the concert with Mitsuko Uchida. I much prefer that in performances of Mozart. He certainly has vibrance, which is also essential. The other thing that didn't work as well (which I couldn't put my finger on at first) was Alsop's conducting of the piece. I much prefer to have the ensemble directed by the soloist, when playing works by a composer like Mozart. Alsop's direction of the orchestra in the concerto was a little clunky, and I believe this transfered into the soloist's playing.

On the whole, as I said - the concert was fantastic. Special mention needs to be given to Adam Walker - the flautist who played principal for the evening. Absolutely top flute player and a good bloke as well - I caught up with him after the concert and went out for a drink with his crew of musos.

Well, that's a good time out in London, and I really do recommend going to see the LPO. If you're keen to catch them, let me know and we'll catch up at or after the concert.


Rachel said...

Oooh, I can never pass up a chance to see (hear? never really know how to put it in reference to live music) The Firebird. Caught it last year here at the NY Philharmonic with Maazel conducting. Sounds like the whole thing was amazing!

Matto said...

Wow! That's really cool. Firebird is a favourite of mine. You should also listen to Pulcinella, another great work of Strav-dog.

Conrad said...

those composers have strange names.
I actually hadn't heard of Strav-dog before.