Monday, March 16, 2009

Scalpers and chocolate...Fantastique times.

Again, another blog from quite a while ago. I still try to get them out though. Enjoy!!


You know that concert or show that you’ve been waiting months to see since the program was released?

Oo, oo! This one.

So, tonight I went to see the London Philharmonic perform Messiaen’s Les offrandes oubliées, Tchaikovsky’s Piano concerto No.1 in Bb minor and Symphonie Fantastique by my hero, Hector Berlioz. Let me start by putting out there that the concert was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it (except the usual ridiculous coughing fits in between movents).Yeah, I know – I complain about it every time.

I had been checking the website for the South Bank Centre over the last months, and in the last couple of days, there seemed to be quite a few seats available. Due to this, I decided to buy my tickets on the night. When I arrived, I lined up to purchase my seat for the night, and encountered a few dear old ladies (Imogen, Peggy and May), who were trying to scalp off a ticket because their friend, Ethel, had a cold and couldn’t make it (Ok, I made up that name because I can’t remember what it really is). The ticket was a great seat and because it was a charity purchase (I think), they had scored it for only 15 quid. So I happily agreed to take it off their hands and then went to chill before the show.

LPO started with Les offrandes oubliées, which was a colourful and evocative introduction. It represents the Cross, the descent of Man into sin and the salvation offered through Eucharist. I guess they were gearing up for Easter.

Then we had the monumental Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto. Favourite of old ladies and classical enthusiasts world-wide. I gotta say, I was always quite 'meh' about the concerto in comparison to Tchaik's other works. However, as soon as I heard those majestic opening chords on the piano, I had chills and a whole new appreciation of the piece. The second movement is just sublime, and of course ya gotta love the flute feature in it.

Despite this, the pinnacle of the performance was the Berlioz. Before that, though, I have to tell a story about interval. I had of course, had some lovely short conversations with my elderly scalping friends, and then I let them know that I was just going to stretch my legs at interval. After a pleasant ten minutes out on the balcony looking out onto the Thames, I arrived back at my seat to find that they had saved me some pieces from their Cadbury chocolate bar. Now, I know you shouldn't take candy from strangers, but who am I to turn down caramel squares?

Anyway, I thought that was just the most brilliant thing ever. I gotta hang about the elderly more often at these classical concerts.

Onto Berlioz. I was a tad excited and could barely contain myself when Reveries commenced. Tell you what, when I first heard that idée fixe, my night was made. Just stunning.

Despite LPO being their usual dynamic and glorious selves, there were a couple of moments, particularly in Un Bal that were slightly sloppy. However, other than select instances they were generally very tight.

I probably listen to Symphonie Fantastique once a week (a movement, at least), so to have this spectular, passionate, rich and resonating work performed by a powerhouse group like LPO was a massive treat.

Stay tuned for the next one.


Present day: I'm really looking forward to the next concert - Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony (amazing) and the Brahms Piano Concerto! Come and join me if you're a Londoner - Wednesday night at the South Bank Centre (Tube: Embankment). Even if you're not a classical fan, I'm almost positive you'll get a kick out of this performance. We'll have a pint or vino and then catch the concert! Take it easy!

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