Thursday, 23 February 2017

This serious moonlight…

This review is dedicated to Paolo Pezzangora – without whom there would be much less musical magic in the world.

Whoever writes the Orchestra of the Swan’s programme notes is either a genius (doubtful); has a crystal ball – in which case: can I borrow it, please…? – or understands Artistic Director David Curtis’ winsome whimsies far too well – for they had written at the end of the (supposedly) final work of yesterday’s concert at Town Hall, Birmingham: Haydn’s 59th symphony…

Watch David closely, though, the concert – unless he rejigs the programme (again) – may not quite end when you think it does!

…and, of course, he opened with it, didn’t he?!

Mind you: I got absolutely soaked on my short hobble from Snow Hill station – ‘weather bomb’ Doris already making her bad temper known – so the ‘Feuer’ was just what was needed to drive out the damp: especially the rude interruption, in the slow movement coda, from the horns – who then excelled in the final, galloping movement! Even a member of the orchestra said he’d never enjoyed playing a Haydn symphony quite so much! And it was not just invigorating; but truly, musically, thrilling. OOTS excel at many things: but they do seem to have a special affinity with the wit and wisdom of the Father of the Symphony.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Commissions accomplished…!

As part of OOTS’ 21st Anniversary season, four composers, who have all worked with the orchestra before, were invited to write “companion pieces” to classical ‘concertante’ works – which they would then be premièred alongside – an idea conjured up by orchestra trustee Tim Richards. As David points out, “this gives our principals the opportunity to shine, as well as thanking them for their commitment”; adding that pairing music in this way “gives the orchestra, soloists, audience and composer both context and inspiration”.

Last year’s commissions – Douglas J Cuomo’s Objects in Mirror and Paul Moravec’s Nocturne – were both instant hits. (In fact, I described the Cuomo as “a cracking work: the perfect foil to the Bach that inspired it”; and reported that Moravec’s “left me with a mammoth lump in my throat, and several large somethings in both eyes”.) I am therefore certain that this year’s will follow in their winning footsteps.

Julian Philips’ composition (to be premièred in June) is for viola and double-bass. David commented that “Julian is an old friend of OOTS, and I expect something slightly more ‘traditional’. Because he knows us so well, I’m sure he will want to capitalize on our distinctive string sound.”

Asked about Joanna Lee – whose Blue Blaze – Dance Suite will be performed this month – David explained that “Joanna is relatively young: and OOTS believes in championing emerging talent.” He went on to say: “I have always been struck by her inventiveness and highly individual voice: so her work is likely to be quite challenging for audience and players – fully exploiting the characteristics of the solo instruments – but also very witty and light-hearted!”

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Anything different is good…

I didn’t know it was National Time to Talk Day until the closing moments of my assessment in Warwick Hospital’s Clinical Health Psychology department – but it seemed such a neat coincidence that my appointment (last Thursday) should have taken place on such a significant date that any doubts I had rapidly faded. By the way, it was Groundhog Day, also. However, I’m still struggling to find an apposite correlation with that….

I like to see a man of advancing years throwing caution to the wind. It’s inspiring in a way.

My hesitancy had concerned the publication of what follows. But, if we’re going “to get talking and break the silence around mental health problems”, as I had previously done, eleven months ago – and without any real qualms – then this is what it’s going to take. Not just wearing “my heart upon my sleeve For daws to peck at”. But allowing those who care to have a wee peek inside: and see that “I am not what I am”.